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My articles on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot
     I am posting this material involving articles related to Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot relatively early for the following reasons:
1 I hope that readers will use the material to create their own articles and letters and/or talking points for radio call-in programs and for other activities;
2 I plan to send the material to the Jewish media soon, and would welcome any suggestions you might have for improvements;
3 I often receive messages re kapporot (kapporus) ceremonies when it is too late to respond effectively, so I wanted the articles on that rite to get to you early. 
This message contains the following articles:
1 Rosh Hashanah Message: Is God’s “Very Good” World Now Approaching An Unprecedented Catastrophe?
2 Rosh Hashanah and Vegetarianism
3 Yom Kippur and Vegetarianism
4 Why Perform a Rite That Kills Chickens as a Way to Seek God’s Compassion?
5 The Custom of Kapparot in the Jewish Tradition
6 Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah and Vegetarianism
     Please feel free to share these articles and letters with others who might be interested.
      Please help in getting one or more of these articles published in your local Jewish publications.
Many thanks,
Richard
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1 Rosh Hashanah Message: Is God’s ‘Very Good’ World Approaching an Unprecedented Catastrophe?
     Rosh Hashanah commemorates God’s creation of the world. The “Ten Days of Repentance” from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur is a period to evaluate our deeds and to do teshuvah (repentance) for cases where we have missed the mark. Sukkot is a holiday in which we leave our fine houses and live in temporary shelters (sukkahs) to commemorate our ancestors journey in the wilderness. Hence, the upcoming weeks provide an excellent time to consider the state of the planet’s environment and what we might do to make sure that the world is on a sustainable path.
     When God created the world, He was able to say, “It is tov meod (very good).” (Genesis 1:31) Everything was in harmony as God had planned, the waters were clean, and the air was pure. But what must God think about the world today?
    What must God think when the rain He provided to nourish our crops is often acid rain, due to the many chemicals emitted into the air by industries and automobiles; when the abundance of species of plants and animals God created are becoming extinct at such an alarming rate in tropical rain forests and other threatened habitats; when the abundant fertile soil God provided is quickly being depleted and eroded; when the climatic conditions God designed to meet our needs are threatened by global warming?
     An ancient rabbinic teaching has become all too relevant today:
           In the hour when the Holy one, blessed be He,
   created the first human being (Adam),
He took him and let him pass before all the trees of
   the Garden of Eden and said to him:
“See my works, how fine and excellent they are!
All that I have created, for you have I created them.
Think upon this and do not corrupt and destroy My world,
For if you destroy it, there is no one to set it right after you.”
                              Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28

 

     Today’s environmental threats bring to mind the Biblical ten plagues:
*  When we consider the threats to our land, water, and air due to pesticides and other chemical pollutants, resource scarcities, acid rain, deforestation, desertification, threats to our climate, etc., we can easily enumerate ten modern “plagues.”
*  The Egyptians were subjected to one plague at a time, while the modern plagues threaten us simultaneously.
*  The israelites in Goshen were spared most of the Biblical plagues, while every person on earth is imperiled by the modern plagues.  
*  Instead of an ancient Pharaoh’s heart being hardened, our hearts today seem to have been hardened by the greed, materialism, and waste that are at the root of current environmental threats.
* God provided the Biblical plagues to free the Israelites, while today we must apply God’s teachings in order to save ourselves and our precious but imperiled planet.
     Today their seem to be almost daily reports about record heat waves, severe droughts and wildfires, the melting of glaciers and polar ice caps, an increase in the number and severity of hurricanes and other storms, and other effects of climate change. All of the above and much more has occurred due to a temperature increase in the past hundred years of a little more than one degree Celsius. So, it is very frightening that climate experts project a  temperature increase of 3 to 6 degrees Celsius in the next hundred years. Some leading climate experts, including James Hansen of NASA, have stated that global warming may reach a tipping point and spin out of control  within a decade, with disastrous consequences, unless major changes soon occur.
     All countries, including Israel, are affected by climate change. Israel is already suffering from one of the worst droughts in its history, with below average rainfall in each of the past five years, and the Kinneret, a major water source, at dangerously low levels.
     Israeli climate experts are  concerned with additional climate threats, each and all of which would heighten tensions and suffering in and around Israel: (1) a rise in temperature causing many severe heat waves; (2) a significant increase in the Mediterranean Sea level, which would threaten the narrow coastal strip of land which contains most of Israel’s population and infrastructure; and (3) a significant decrease in rainfall, estimated at 20-30%, which would disrupt agricultural production and worsen the chronic water scarcity problem in Israel and the region. Making matters even worse, much of that rainfall would come in severe storms that would cause major flooding.
     Fortunately, there are many Jewish teachings that can be applied to shift the earth to a sustainable path. Briefly, these include:
* Our mandate to be shomrei adamah (guardians of the earth), based on the admonition that we should “work the earth and guard it” (Genesis 2:15);
* the prohibition of bal tashchit, that we should not waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value (Deuteronomy 20:19. 20); 
* the teaching that,”The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Psalms 24:1), and that the assigned role of the Jewish people is to enhance the world as “partners of God in the work of creation.” (Shabbat 10a); 
* the ecological lessons related to the Shabbat, sabbatical, and jubilee cycles.
     As co-workers with God, charged with the task of being a light unto the nations and accomplishing tikkun olam (healing and restoring the earth), it is essential that Jews take an active role in applying our eternal, sacred values in struggles to reduce climate change, pollution and the waste of natural resources. Based on the central Jewish mandates to work with God in preserving the earth, Jews must work with others for significant changes in society’s economic and production systems, values, and life-styles. So at the start of a new year, we should seek to reduce our environmental impact  The fate of humanity and God’s precious earth are at stake, and if we fail to act properly and in time, there may be “no one after us to set it right.”
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2. Rosh Hashanah and Vegetarianism
[Whenever vegetarianism is mentioned in this article, it means vegetarianism and preferably veganism.]
    Rosh Hashanah is the time when Jews take stock of their lives and  consider new beginnings. Perhaps the most significant and meaningful  change that Jews should consider this year is a shift away from diets  that have been having devastating effects on human health and the  health of our increasingly imperiled planet. While many Jews seem to  feel that the holiday’s celebration can be enhanced by the 
consumption of chopped liver, gefilte fish, chicken soup, and roast  chicken, there are many inconsistencies between the values of Rosh  Hashanah and the realities of animal-centered diets:
     1. While Jews ask God on Rosh Hashanah for a healthy year, non-vegetarian diets have been linked to heart disease, strokes, several forms of cancer, and other illnesses. While we implore “our Father, our King” on Rosh Hashanah to “keep the plague from thy people”, high fat, meat-based diets are causing a plague of degenerative diseases that have led to soaring health care costs.       
     2. While Jews pray on the Jewish New Year that God “remove pestilence, sword, and famine”, over 70% of the grain grown in the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter, as about ten percent of the world’s people are chronically hungry and an estimated 20 million people die annually because of hunger and its effects. Animal-centered diets, by wasting valuable resources, help to perpetuate the widespread hunger and poverty that often lead to instability and war.
     3. While Jews commemorate the creation of the world on Rosh Hashanah, livestock agriculture is a major contributor to many global threats, such as climate change, soil erosion and depletion, air and water pollution related to the production and use of pesticides and chemical fertilizer, and the destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats.
     4. While Jews pray on Rosh Hashanah for God’s compassion during the coming year, many Jews, as well as most other people, partake in a diet that involves animals being raised for food under cruel conditions, in crowded, confined cells, where they are denied fresh air, exercise, and any emotional stimulation.
     5. While Judaism teaches that people’s fate for the new year is written on Rosh Hashanah and sealed on Yom Kippur and that repentance, prayer, and charity can cancel a stern decree, the fate of farm animals is determined before they are born and there is no way they can change it. While the Torah and Prophetic readings on Rosh Hashanah describe the great joy of both Sarah and Hannah after they were blessed with sons after it seemed that both were destined to be barren, animal-based diets require the taking of animal babies from their mothers almost immediately after birth.
     6. While Rosh Hashanah is a time when we are to “awaken from our slumber” and mend our ways, the consumption of meat and other animal-sourced foodson Rosh Hashanah means that we are continuing the habits that are so detrimental to our health, to animals, to hungry people, and to ecosystems. While we symbolically cast away our sins at tashlich during Rosh Hashanah, the eating of meat means a continuation of the “sins” associated with our diets, with regard to treatment of animals, protecting our health, polluting the environment, and wasting food and other resources. While Rosh Hashanah is meant to be a time of deep contemplation when we carefully examine our deeds, most meat eaters ignore the many moral issues related to their diets.
     7. While we speak of God’s “delighting in life” on Rosh Hashanah, the standard American diet annually involves deaths of billions of animals, as well as many human deaths, due to insufficient food in poor countries and too much rich food in the wealthy countries.
     8. While Rosh Hashanah has a universal message and involves the prayer that “all the world’s people shall come to serve (God)”, many of the world’s people suffer from chronic hunger which denies them the necessary strength and will for devotion, while meat and fish from the choicest land and most bountiful waters of their countries is exported to meet dietary demands in the United States and other developed countries.
     9. While Rosh Hashanah is a time of joy (along with sincere meditation), animals on factory farms never have a pleasant day, and millions of people throughout the world are too involved in worrying about their next meal to be able to experience many joyous moments.
    In view of these and other contradictions, I hope that Jews will enhance their celebrations of the beautiful and spiritually  meaningful holiday of Rosh Hashanah by making it a time to begin striving even harder to live up to Judaism’s highest moral values and teachings by moving toward a vegetarian and preferably a vegan diet.
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3.               Yom Kippur and Vegetarianism

                           

       There are many connections that can be made between the sacred Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and vegetarianism:
1.  On Yom Kippur, Jews pray to the “Living God”, the “King Who delights in life”, that they should be remembered for life, and inscribed in the “Book of Life” for the New Year.  Yet, typical animal-based diets have been linked to heart disease, stroke, several types of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases, that shorten the lives of millions of people annually.
2. On Yom Kippur, Jews pray to a “compassionate God”, who compassionately remembers His creatures for life.  Yet, there is little compassion related to modern intensive livestock agriculture (factory farming), which involves the cruel treatment and slaughter of about 9 billion farm animals annually in the United States and about 70 billion worldwide.
3. On Yom Kippur, Jews pray to God, “Who makes peace”, to be inscribed into the “Book of Life, Blessing, and Peace”.  Yet, animal-centered diets, by requiring vast amounts of land, water, energy, and other resources, help to perpetuate the widespread hunger and poverty that often lead to instability, violence, and war.
4. On Yom Kippur, Jews are told through the words of Isaiah in the morning prophetic reading that the true purpose of fasting on that day is to sensitize us to the needs of the hungry and the oppressed, so that we will work to end oppression and “share thy bread with the hungry”. (Isaiah 58:6,7)  Yet, 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States is used to fatten up farm animals, while an estimated 20 million of the world’s people die annually from lack of adequate food.
5. One of the most important messages of Yom Kippur and the preceding days is the importance of teshuvah, of turning away from sinful ways, from apathy, from a lack of compassion and sensitivity, and returning to Jewish values, ideals, and mitzvot.  Vegetarianism involves a significant turn, away from a diet that has many harmful effects to one that is consistent with Jewish mandates to take care of our health, treat animals kindly, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help the hungry, and seek and pursue peace.
6. The Yom Kippur liturgy has a prayer that includes the statement that “we are God’s flock, and God is our shepherd.”  Since Judaism teaches that people are to imitate God in His acts of compassion and caring, we should be treating God’s defenceless creatures in the ways that we want God to treat us.
7. On Yom Kippur, Jews ask for forgiveness for the sin of “casting off responsibility”.  Vegetarianism is a way to assume responsibility for our health, for animals, for the environment, and for the world’s hungry people.
8. Yom Kippur is time for reflection and soul searching, a time to consider changes in one’s way of life, a time to make decisions for improvement.  Hence, it is an excellent time to switch to a diet that has so many personal and societal benefits.
9. According to the Jewish tradition, our fate is sealed on Yom Kippur for the coming year.  But repentance, charity, and prayer can avert a negative decree.  However, people have determined the fate of animals before they are born, and there is virtually no possibility of a change in the cruel treatment and early slaughter that awaits them.
10. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, a day of being, in effect, at-one with God.   One way to be more at-one with God is by adopting a plant-based diet, and thereby not harming animals, since “God’s compassion is over all of His works”. (Psalm 145:9)
11. Yom Kippur reminds us that, while it is often difficult, old habits can be broken.  Thus, the days surrounding Yom Kippur provide a good period to break habits related to the consumption of animal products.
12. The afternoon service for Yom Kippur includes the reading from the book of Jonah, which tells how Jonah was sent to warn the people of Nineveh that they must do teshuvah, change their sinful ways in order to avoid destruction.  Today, the whole world is like Nineveh, in need of redemption, and in danger as never before from a variety of environmental threats.  In a sense, vegetarians are now playing the role of Jonah, pointing out that a shift away from an intensive animal agriculture that has significant negative effects on the environment and a shift toward vegetarian diets have become global imperatives, necessary to shift humanity from its current perilous path.
13. An important message of the book of Jonah is that God is concerned about the fate of all of the world’s people.  Vegetarianism is a way to show such concern and hence to imitate God’s attributes of caring and compassion, since this diet requires far less land, grain, water, fuel, and other resources, and hence can contribute to a reduction of the widespread hunger that afflicts so much of humanity.
14. The book of Jonah also shows God’s concern for animals.  It ends with God’s statement, “Should I not then spare the great city of Nineveh with more than one hundred and twenty thousand human beings. . . and much cattle?”
15. On Yom Kippur, one of the many sins that we ask forgiveness for is “the sin we committed before Thee in eating and drinking.”  This can be interpreted in terms of the harm that animal-based diets do with regard to human health, animals, the environment, and hungry people.
16. On Yom Kippur, Jews are forbidden to wear leather shoes. One reason is that it is not considered proper to plead for compassion when one has not shown compassion to the creatures of God, Whose concern extends to all His works.
17. Rabbi Israel Salanter, one of the most distinguished Orthodox Rabbis of the nineteenth century, failed to appear one Yom Kippur eve in time for the sacred Kol Nidre Prayer.  His congregation became concerned, for it was inconceivable that their saintly rabbi would be absent or late on this very holy day. They sent a search party to look for him.  After much time, their rabbi was found in a Christian neighbor’s barn.  On his way to the synagogue, Rabbi Salanter had come upon one of the neighbor’s calves, lost and tangled in the brush.
Seeing the animal in distress, he freed him and led him home.  His act of compassion represented the rabbi’s prayers on that Yom Kippur evening.
      In summary, a shift to vegetarianism. and preferably veganism,  is an important way to do teshuvah, to turn away from a diet that is harmful in many ways to one that is in accord with the many significant teachings and values that Yom Kippur represents.
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4. Why Perform a Rite That Kills Chickens as a Way To Seek God’s Compassion?
     The period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest period, is one in which Jews ask for God’s compassion so that we will be forgiven for our transgressions during the previous year and granted a happy, healthy, peaceful year. Yet, many Jews perform the rite of kapparot (in Ashkenazic Hebrew kappores or in Yiddish, shluggen kappores) in the days before Yom Kippur, a ritual which involves the killing of chickens.
     Kapparot is a custom in which the sins of a person are symbolically transferred to a fowl. First, selections from Isaiah 11:9, Psalms 107:10, 14, and 17-21, and Job 33:23-24 are recited; then a rooster (for a male) or a hen (for a female) is held above the person’s head and swung in a circle three times, while the following is spoken: “This is my exchange, my substitute, my atonement; this rooster (or hen) shall go to its death, but I shall go to a good, long life, and to peace.” The hope is that the fowl, which is then donated as charity to the poor for food, will take on any misfortune that might otherwise occur to the one who has taken part in the ritual, in punishment for his or her sins. 
     There seems to be an inconsistency here because of Judaism’s strong teachings about compassion to animals and because the rite can be carried out in a rabbinically approved way without using and then slaughtering chickens.
    The psalmist indicates God’s concern for animals, for “His compassion is over all of His works” (Psalms 145:9). And there is a mitzvah-precept in the Torah to emulate the Divine compassion, as it is written: “And you shall walk in His ways” (Deuteronomy 28:9). Perhaps the Jewish attitude toward animals is best summarized by Proverbs 12:10: “The righteous person considers the soul (life) of his or her animal.” 
     Moses and King David were considered worthy to be leaders of the Jewish people because of their compassionate treatment of animals, when they were shepherds. Rebecca was judged suitable to be a wife of the patriarch Isaac because of her kindness in watering the ten thirsty camels of Abraham’s servant Eliezer. 
    Many Torah laws involve proper treatment of animals. One may not muzzle an ox while it is working in the field nor yoke a strong and a weak animal together. Animals, as well as people, must be permitted to rest on the Sabbath day. The importance of this concept is indicated by the fact that it is in the Ten Commandments and by its recitation every Sabbath morning by many Jews, as part of the kiddush ceremony. 
     In summary, the Torah prohibits Jews from causing tsa’ar ba’alei chayim, any unnecessary pain to living creatures, even psychological pain. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, an outstanding 19th century philosopher, author, and Torah commentator, eloquently summarizes the Jewish view on treatment of animals: “Here you are faced with God’s teaching, which obliges you not only to refrain from inflicting unnecessary pain on any animal, but to help and, when you can, to lessen the pain whenever you see an animal suffering, even through no fault of yours.” (Horeb, Chapter 60, #416) 
    In view of these strong Jewish teachings, fortunately there is a substitute kapparot ceremony that is widely practiced by many observant Jews. Money, perhaps equal to the monetary value of the fowl, is substituted for the rooster or hen. The money is put into a handkerchief which the person swings three times around his or her head while reciting a modified saying: “This money shall go to charity, and I shall go to a good, long life, and to peace.” Hence, the heightened sense of repentance can be kept, and perhaps even enhanced, since no bird has to lose its life or suffer for our sake. This substitution, which maintains the tradition of giving charity (the substituted money) to the poor, has been endorsed by many rabbis and is mentioned in many prayer books, including the Artscroll Siddur, which is used in many Orthodox synagogues.
     Some additional considerations pointing toward shifting toward the use of money rather than chickens for the kapparot ritual are:
* Kapparot is not mentioned in the Torah or in the Talmud. The custom is first discussed by Jewish scholars in the ninth century. 
* Several Jewish sages strongly opposed kapparot. Rabbi Solomon ben Abraham Aderet , one of the foremost Jewish scholars during the 13th century, considered it a heathen superstition. This opinion was shared by the Ramban (Nachmanides) and Rabbi Joseph Caro, who called it “a foolish custom” that Jews should avoid. They felt that it was a pagan custom that mistakenly made its way into Jewish practice, perhaps because when Jews lived among pagans this rite seemed like a korban (sacrifice) to some extent  However, the Kabbalists (led by mystics such as Rabbi Isaac Luria and Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz) perceived in this custom mystical significance which strongly appealed to many people. This greatly enhanced the popularity of the kapparot ritual down to the present day. 
* Some Jewish leaders opposed kapparot because they felt that people would misunderstand the significance of the ritual. The belief that the ceremony of kapparot can transfer a person’s sins to a bird, and that his or her sins would then be completely eradicated, is contrary to Jewish teachings. For, if the ritual could remove a person’s sins, what would be the need to observe Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement? 
* The birds may suffer while they are handled. In some places in Israel and the United States, the birds are sold on street corners for this ceremony, and not every merchant takes sufficient care of the chickens during this period. The birds are frequently cooped up in baskets, and some merchants neglect to give them sufficient food or water. In recent years communal and rabbinic leaders were placed in the position of publicly apologizing for the mistreatment of chickens used for kapparot and the wastefulness of slaughtered chickens sometimes discarded on the eve of Yom Kippur. It should also be noted that the chickens have generally been raised under cruel conditions on modern factory farms.
     Hence, while the Jewish tradition is filled with concepts, prayers, and actions during the Rosh Hashanah-Yom Kippur period that relate to the importance of rachamim (compassion and sensitivity), the message of kapparot to those who take part and those who view it (including children) may be just the opposite in some cases, a lesson of insensitivity to the feelings of other living creatures. 
* Acts of kindness and charity are consistent with God`s “delighting in life” on Rosh Hashanah, since, unlike the kapparot ceremony using chickens, they don’t involve the possible cruel treatment and death of animals. 
• Finally, consistent with the Rosh Hashanah – Yom Kippur period as a time when Jews are to “awaken from slumber” and mend our ways, using money rather than chickens for the kapparot ritual shows that we are putting Torah teachings about compassion into practice. 
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5. The Custom of Kapparot in the Jewish Tradition
     Every year, before Yom Kippur, some religious Jews perform the ceremony of kapparot. The following, in question and answer form, is a discussion of the ritual and its relation to the treatment of animals. 
What is kapparot  [in Ashkenazic Hebrew or Yiddish, kappores or shluggen kappores]? 
     Kapparot is a custom in which the sins of a person are symbolically transferred to a fowl. It is practiced by some Jews shortly before Yom Kippur. First, selections from Isaiah 11:9, Psalms 107:10, 14, and 17-21, and Job 33:23-24 are recited; then a rooster (for a male) or a hen (for a female) is held above the person’s head and swung in a circle three times, while the following is spoken: “This is my exchange, my substitute, my atonement; this rooster (or hen) shall go to its death, but I shall go to a good, long life, and to peace.” The hope is that the fowl, which is then donated to the poor for food, will take on any misfortune that might otherwise occur to the one who has taken part in the ritual, in punishment for his or her sins. 
What is the history of this rite? 
     Kapparot is not mentioned in the Torah or in the Talmud. The custom is first discussed by Jewish scholars in the ninth century. They explain that since the Hebrew word gever means both “man” and “rooster”, punishment of the bird can be substituted for that of a person. 
     According to the Encyclopedia Judaica (Volume 10, pages 756-757), several Jewish sages strongly opposed kapparot. Rabbi Solomon ben Abraham Aderet , one of the foremost Jewish scholars during the 13th century, considered it a heathen superstition. This opinion was shared by the Ramban (Nachmanides) and Rabbi Joseph Caro, who called it “a foolish custom” that Jews should avoid. They felt that it was a pagan custom that mistakenly made its way into Jewish practice, perhaps because when Jews lived among pagans this rite seemed like a korban (sacrifice) to some extent 
However, the Kabbalists (led by mystics such as Rabbi Isaac Luria and Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz) perceived in this custom mystical significance which strongly appealed to many people. This greatly enhanced the popularity of the kapparot ritual down to the present day. 
Why did some Jewish sages oppose kapparot? 
     Some Jewish leaders felt that people would misunderstand the significance of the ritual. The belief that the ceremony of kapparot can transfer a person’s sins to a bird, and that his or her sins would then be completely eradicated, is contrary to Jewish teachings. For, if the ritual could remove a person’s sins, what would be the need for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement? 
     The Mishneh Brurah, an eminent contemporary commentary on Rabbi Joseph Caro’s classical codification of Jewish law written by the respected Chafetz Chaim at the beginning of the 20th century, explains the significance of the ritual. Judaism stresses that a person can’t obtain purity from sin, and thus obtain higher levels of perfection, without repenting. Through God’s mercy, we are given the Divine gift of repentance, so that we might abandon our corrupt ways, thereby being spared from the death that we deserve for our violation of the Divine law. By substituting the death of a fowl, one will (hopefully) appreciate God’s mercy and be stirred to repentance. By no means, however, does the ritual and the slaughter of the bird eradicate one’s misdeeds, even though the bird is donated to the poor. 
What are more recent objections to this ceremony? 
    The birds may suffer while they are handled. In some places in Israel and the United States, chickens are sold on street corners for this ceremony, and not every merchant takes proper care of his chickens during this period. The birds are frequently cooped up in baskets, and some merchants neglect to give them sufficient food or water. 
     Hence, while the Jewish tradition is filled with concepts, prayers, and actions during the Rosh Hashanah-Yom Kippur period that relate to the importance of rachamim (compassion and sensitivity), the message of kapparot to those who take part and those who view it (including children) may be just the opposite in some cases, a lesson of insensitivity to the feelings of other living creatures. 
     How should Jews who are concerned about the treatment of animals respond to this issue? 
     Jews who are concerned about the treatment of animals should try to engage courteously and respectfully with Jews who perform kapparot. It should be recognized that they are performing what they regard as an important religious act. Some of the points that can be brought up include: 
1. There is a substitute ceremony that is widely practiced by many Torah-observant Jews. Money, perhaps equal to the monetary value of the fowl, is substituted for the rooster or hen. The money is put into a handkerchief which the person swings three times around his or her head while reciting a modified saying :”This money shall go to charity, and I shall go to a good, long life, and to peace.” Hence, the heightened sense of repentance can be kept, and perhaps even enhanced, since no bird has to lose its life or suffer for our sake. This substitution, which maintains the tradition of giving charity (the substituted money) to the poor, has been endorsed by many rabbis and is mentioned in many prayer books, including the Artscroll Siddur which is used in many Orthodox synagogues.

 

2. We should attempt to increase the knowledge of Jews with regard to Judaism’s beautiful and powerful teachings with regard to showing compassion to animals. The following are a few examples: 
    Moshe Rabbenu, (our great teacher, Moses) and King David were considered worthy to be leaders of the Jewish people because of their compassionate treatment of animals, when they were shepherds. Rebecca was judged suitable to be a wife of the patriarch Isaac because of her kindness in watering the ten camels of Abraham’s servant Eliezer. 
    Many Torah laws involve proper treatment of animals. One may not muzzle an ox while it is working in the field nor yoke a strong and a weak animal together. Animals, as well as people, must be permitted to rest on the Sabbath day. The importance of this concept is indicated by the fact that it is inthe Ten Commandments and by its recitation every Sabbath morning by many Jews, as part of the kiddush ceremony. 
     The psalmist indicates God’s concern for animals, for “God’s compassion is over all of His works” (Psalms 145:9). And there is a mitzvah-precept in the Torah to emulate the Divine compassion, as it is written: “And you shall walk in His ways” (Deuteronomy 28:9). Perhaps the Jewish attitude toward animals is best summarized by Proverbs 12:10: “The righteous person considers the soul (life) of his or her animal.” 
     In summary, the Torah prohibits Jews from causing tsa’ar ba’alei chayim, any unnecessary pain to living creatures, even psychological pain. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, an outstanding 19th century philosopher, author, and Torah commentator, eloquently summarised the Jewish view on treatment of animals: “Here you are faced with God’s teaching, which obliges you not only to refrain from inflicting unnecessary pain on any animal, but to help and, when you can, to lessen the pain whenever you see an animal suffering, even through no fault of yours.” (Horeb, Chapter 60, #416) In the same section, Rabbi Hirsch indicates further how great our concern for animals must be: 
     “There are probably no creatures that require more the protective Divine word against the presumption of man than the animals, which like man have sensations and instincts, but whose body and powers are nevertheless subservient to man. In relation to them man so easily forgets that injured animal muscle twitches just like human muscle, that the maltreated nerves of an animal sicken like human nerves, that the animal being is just as sensitive to cuts, blows, and beating as man. Thus man becomes the torturer of the animal soul, which has been subjected to him only for the fulfillment of humane and wise purposes . . .” 
3. In view of the above, it can be argued that one way that Jews can accomplish repentance and other goals of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is by moving away from the unnecessary exploitation of animals. For many of the values of this holiday period are more consistent with practicing mercy toward all of God’s creatures: 
     (a) Prayers on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for God’s compassion during the coming year are most consistent with acts of kindness to both other people and animals. The following story reinforces this idea: 
     Rabbi Israel Salanter, one of the most distinguished Orthodox Rabbis of the nineteenth century, failed to appear one Yom Kippur eve to chant the sacred Kol Nidre Prayer. His congregation became concerned, for it was inconceivable that their saintly rabbi would be late or absent on this very holy day. They sent out a search party to look for him. After much time, their rabbi was found in the barn of a Christian neighbor. On his way to the synagogue, Rabbi Salanter had come upon one of his neighbor’s calves, lost and tangled in the brush. Seeing that the animal was in distress, he freed it and led it home through many fields and over many hills. His act of mercy represented the rabbi’s prayers on that Yom Kippur evening. 
     (b) Consistent with Rosh Hashanah as a time when Jews are to “awaken from slumber” and mend our ways, using money for the kapparot ritual shows that we are putting Torah teachings about compassion into practice. 
     (c) Acts of kindness and charity are consistent with God`s “delighting in life” on Rosh Hashanah, since, unlike the kapparot ceremony, it doesn`t involve the possible cruel treatment and death of animals. 
4. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we should remind others that kapparot is not biblically or talmudically ordained (as is tsa’ar ba’alei chayim), that the custom arose at a later period in Jewish history, that it has been condemned by many Jewish sages, and that the important goal of increasing our sensitivity to the importance of repentance and charity can be accomplished as well, and perhaps better, by substituting money for a bird. 
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6.        Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah, and Vegetarianism
     There are many connections that can be made between vegetarianism and the joyous Jewish festivals of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret (the Eighth Day of Solemn  Assembly), and Simchat Torah:
1. Sukkot commemorates the 40 years when the ancient Israelites lived in the wilderness in frail huts and were sustained by manna. According to Isaac Arama (1420-1494), author of Akedat Yitzchak, and others, the manna was God’s attempt to reestablish for the Israelites the vegetarian diet that prevailed before the flood in the time of Noah.
2. On Simchat Torah, Jews complete the annual cycle of Torah readings, and begin again, starting with the first chapter of Genesis, which  contains God’s first dietary law: “Behold I have given you every herb  yielding seed which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree, in which there is the fruit of a tree-yielding seed – to you it shall be for food.” (Genesis 1:29).       
     Also, the Torah, along with prophetic and Talmudic interpretations, is the source of the Jewish mandates – to take care of our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people, and  seek and pursue peace – that point to vegetarianism as the ideal diet today.
3. Sukkot is the Jewish harvest festival called the “Feast of 
Ingathering”.  Hence, it can remind us that many more people can be sustained on vegetarian diets than on animal-centered diets that presently involve over 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States being fed to animals raised for slaughter, while 15 to 20 million people die due to malnutrition and its effects annually.
4. The Sukkot holiday, including Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, is known as the “Season of Rejoicing”, because people’s worries about the success of the harvest are over. Since one must be in good health in order to fully rejoice, the many health benefits of vegetarian diets and the knowledge that such diets are not harmful to hungry people or animals are factors that can enhance rejoicing.
5. Sukkahs, the temporary structures that Jews dwell in during Sukkot, are decorated with pictures and replicas of apples, oranges, bananas, peppers, carrots, and other fruits and vegetables, never with meats or other animal products.
6. After the sukkah, the main ritual symbols for Sukkot are related to  the plant kingdom. The Torah states: “On the first day, you shall take the first fruit of hadar (goodly) trees (an etrog or citron), branches of palm trees (lulav), boughs of leafy trees (hadassim) and myrtle, and willows of the field (aravot), and you shall rejoice before the Lord thy God seven days (Leviticus 23:40). These four species represent the beauty and bounty of the land of Israel’s harvest.
7. On Shemini Atzeret, Jews pray for rain, and plead to God that it should be for a blessing, not a curse. This is a reminder of the preciousness of rain water to nourish the crops so that there will be  a successful harvest. Also, according to the Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 1, 2), the world is judged on Sukkot with regard to how much rainfall it will receive. In the days when the Temple stood in Jerusalem, there was a joyous “Water Drawing Ceremony” (Simchat Bet Shueva), designed to remind God to pour forth water when it was needed. Modern intensive livestock agriculture requires huge amounts of water, much of it to irrigate feed crops. According to Newsweek magazine, the amount of water needed to raise one steer would float a Naval destroyer. A person on an animal-based diet requires up to 13 times as much water as a person on a strict vegetarian (vegan)diet.
8. Sukkot is a universal holiday. There are at least three indications  related to the festival that Jews consider not only their own welfare, but  also the fate of all of the world’s people:
     a. In Temple days, there were 70 sacrifices for the then 70 nations of the world;
     b. The lulav is waved in all directions, to indicate God’s rule over and concern for the entire world;
     c. The roof of the sukkah is made only of natural materials such as  wood and bamboo, and must be open sufficiently so that people inside can see the stars, to remind them that their concerns should extend beyond their immediate needs and should encompass the world.
     Vegetarianism also considers not only a person’s health, but also encompasses broader concerns, including the global environment, the  world’s hungry people, and the efficient use of the world’s resources.
9. Moving out of comfortable homes to dwell in relatively frail 
sukkahs  indicates that it is not our power and wealth that we should rely on, but rather that our fate is in God’s hands. And it is God Who originally provided vegetarian diets for people, and created us with hands, teeth, and digestive systems most conducive to eating plant foods.
10. Dwelling in sukkahs also teaches that no matter how magnificent  our homes, no matter how extensive our wealth and material possessions, we should be humble and not be overly concerned about our status. Vegetarianism is also an attempt to not be taken in by status symbols, such as those that the eating of meat often represent.
11. Sukkot’s prophetic readings point to the universal messianic transformation of the world. According to Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel, based on the prophecy of Isaiah (“. . . the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, . . . the lion shall eat straw like the ox , . . .  and no one shall destroy in all of God’s holy mountain,” (Isaiah 11: 6-9)) the messianic period will be vegetarian.
     In summary, a shift to vegetarianism, and even more so veganism,  is a way to be consistent with many values and teachings related to the joyous festivals of Sukkot,  Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah.
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