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Why does a pregnant woman take more then one chicken for Kaparot?

by

Mikvah.org

  

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According to the custom initiated by the Arizal, a pregnant woman should take three birds for kaparot -- one female for herself, and an additional male and female because of the undetermined sex of the fetus.1

[The question is asked - why would an unborn fetus require any atonement? It is explained that if the mother ate a forbidden food while pregnant, this would have been transformed into her own blood and flesh and for this atonement is required -- as the food becomes blood in the woman's heart and also in the heart of the fetus.]

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Footnotes

  • 1. This is the ideal way to fulfill the kapparot custom. However, if one is unable to afford a chicken for each family member, one can use one rooster for many males and one hen for many females. In such an instance, a pregnant woman would suffice with one rooster and one hen -- which she would "share" with her fetus if it indeed is a girl.

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Arizal
Rabbi Isaac Luria, the 15th Century founder of Modern Kabbalah.