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Kaparos and Mistreatment of Chickens

Question:

There is a lot of hype lately about mistreatment of chickens before they get slaughtered for kaparos. Animals that are raised for kosher slaughter, do they have animal rights? And do protestors have a claim that animals that are bred for mass kosher slaughterers must not be treated differently than their pets? They cry “tzaar ba’aley chaim” claiming that these overcrowded animals are “crying” for help to HAshem and living as tortured and abused animals. Are they right? Thank you. Your guidance is appreciated.

Answer:

The torah, which is the guiding light to the morality of the Jewish people and of the world as whole, has told us that we are to be careful not to pain animals unnecessarily. If there indeed is tzar ballei chaim going on there then it is incorrect, however I am not familiar with what goes on with the chickens before they are used for kaparos. Regarding the claim of the animal activists that chickens should be treated as pets, from a Jewish outlook, such an idea doesn’t exist. There is no such thing as “animal rights” in the torah, except for the halacha that the owner of an animal has to feed it before he himself goes to eat. Otherwise, the torah doesn’t tell us that animals have “rights”. Again this doesn’t mean that we can cause them unnecessary pain, but they don’t have any claim or rights.

Gmar chasima tova

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