Home / Israelite Clothing / Does the Jew Have to Wear A Kippah?

Does the Jew Have to Wear A Kippah?

Unfortunately, many Jews or Jewish communities have made it a habit to accept both the aggadoth and midrashim as ‘Halakha’. I believe this has much to do with some who believed that most, if not all commentaries were binding, and as a result, developed much of what Judaism may resemble today.

Now this brings us back to the issue of the wearing of kippoth and it’s ‘sources’.

judges of Israel wore turbans-graphics

First, let us examine the most common Talmudic sources that many use in an attempt to ‘prove’ the Talmudic ‘mandate’ about wearing a kippah,

“????”??? ???? ??? ??? ??? ?????? ?????? ??”? ?? ???? ???? ?? ????? ???? ???? ????? ?????? ????? ????? ???? ??? ??? ????? ?? ???? ?????? ??? ????? ????? ???? ?????? ??? ??? ???? ????? ??? ???? ?? ???? ?? ???? ???? ????? ??? ????? ??????? ???? ???? ????? ??? ?????? ????? ????? ???? ????? ??????? ??????”

“From R. Nahman b. Yis’haq too [we learn that] Israel is free from planetary influence. For R. Nahman b. Yis’haq’s mother was told by astrologers, ‘Your son will be a thief.’ [So] she did not let him [be] bareheaded, saying to him, ‘Cover your head so that the fear of heaven may be upon you and pray [for mercy]’. Now, he did not know why she spoke that to him. One day he was sitting and studying under a palm tree; his evil inclination overcame him, he climbed up and bit off a cluster [of dates] with his teeth.” BT Mas. Shabbath 156b

From the above Talmudic passages, we can clearly see that the sages were teaching that Israel is free from Astrological influences. Nonetheless, an aggadah was given about Rabbi Nahman’s mother as an objection to the declaration that Israel is free from the zodiac’s influence. This story explains that she allowed her superstitions, belief in astrology and soothsayers, to motivate her into creating a ‘protection’ from this foretold negative omen against her son. She then decided to cover his head as a shield from the influence of the stars. It is clear, this was not a halakhic ruling to wear a kippah out of the fear of Heaven; instead, it demonstrated how the wearing of a ‘head covering’ was an attempt to protect her son from her personal superstitious fears.

The next most commonly cited Talmudic passage:

“?’ ???? ?? ????? ????? ???? ????? ???? ???? ????? ????? (?????? ??) ?? ??? ?’ ????? ???? ????? ???? ???? ?????? ????? ?? ??? ???? ???? ????? ???? ???? ????? ????? ???’ (?????? ?) ??? ?? ???? ????? ?? ???? ???? ??? ????? ?? ???? ???? ???? ?????? ???? ??? ????? ????? ?????”

“Rabbi. Yis’haq said: He who transgresses in secret is as though he pressed the feet of the Shechinah, for it is written: Thus saith the L-rd, the heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.  R. Yehoshua b. Lewi said: One may not walk four amoth (a Hebrew unit of measurement, about 19 to 22 inches) with haughty posture, for it is said, the whole earth is full of His glory. Rabbi Huna, son of Rabbi Yehoshua would not walk four amoth bareheaded, saying: The Shechinah is above my head.” BT Mas. Qiddushin 31a

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