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

Does the Jew Have to Wear A Kippah?

Some have legitimately asked, where RaMBaM gets his ruling from when he says that ‘one must cover his head before reciting the Amidah’ prayer. – MT Hilkhoth Tefillah 5,5.

Now, most of us are certainly of a belief that RaMBaM is not guilty of ‘free-styling’ a ruling. Some have theorized that it must have come from a ‘lost sugya’ (lost halakhic source). I’d agree if we assume that RaMBaM was talking about an actual kippah, then we can go on an assumption that there must be a lost suyga, that we assume, must have existed at one time or another.  And assuming that to be true, then that assumption would be correct. I assume that we can all see the problem with making assumptions here.

The Laws of the Kippah. Does the Torah command the men of Israel to wear head coverings, kippahs or turbans? Visit WestAfricanJews.com to find out more!

So, let us continue with the facts:  The Talmud never stated that Israel must wear kippoth/ hemsinefeth, and as I said earlier, RaMBaM being consistent with the HaZaL, never stated this either (no tifree-styling here). We are now left with the task of reconciling the words of RaMBaM with the halakha, not with the assumptions and mistakes of believing that we should be accepting the aggadoth as law, which are not the halakhoth.

After careful investigation, we discover that the HaZaL (Talmudic Rabbis or Sages of Israel) did teach specifically about important attire that was required before entering prayer.  What are these you may ask? They are none other than the tefillin and the Tallith gadol (large prayer shawl). Understanding this important fact, there is only one out of the two which is able to cover the head, and that is the tallith gadol.

If one simply puts the above sources*, into the context of this subject, one would realize that RaMBaM was essentially explaining that the sages didn’t walk four amoth without covering their heads with a tallith gadol (not with a kippah); saying, “..Rav, the student of Rabbenu HaQadosh, was that he was never seen walking four amoth without [reciting words of] Torah, without sisithand without tefillin.

 *BT Mas. Qiddushin 31a and MT Hilkhoth Tefillin 4,25,

Now, a few important facts one MUST know about the tallith:

“?”? ??? ?????? ?????? ????? ???? ???????? ???? ???? ?????? ?”? ???? ????? ???? ????? ??? ????? ???? ??? ??? ???? ??? ????? ???? ???? ??????”
“Our Rabbis taught: All must observe the law of sisith, kohanim, Lewi’im, Yisrael, gerim (converts), nashim (women) and avedim (servants). R. Shimeon declares nashim exempt, since it is a positive precept dependent on a fixed time, and nashim are exempt from all positive precepts that are dependent on a fixed time.” –BT Mas. Menahoth 43a.

Torah commands Tallith must be large enough to cover the body. West African Jews of the Diaspora

A prayer should not be recited over a sisith katan or gadol, which is not large enough to cover both the head and the most of a person’s body. For the Torah commands that the tallith must large enough cover the head and body.

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

“You shall make sisith on the four corners of the clothing with which you cover yourselves with”Devarim/Deut 22,12

This meant that the Tallith must be worn over the head like a cloak or a hood. The same is also alluded to in the Talmud, saying:

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

“All robing that is not done the way the Ishmaelites do it is not considered robing.” -BT Mas. Mo’ed Katan 24a

Moreover, even the Shulhan Arukh (code of Jewish law) states: “The manner of wrapping ( ????? ) [the tallith gadol] is similar to the way people wrap themselves for work. Sometimes their heads are covered and sometimes uncovered. It is appropriate that one cover his head with his tallith.”-Siman 8,2

All of the sources presented thus far, support the fact that when the halakha speaks of covering one’s head before saying the Amidah, it is not necessarily speaking of putting on a kippah, but covering one’s head with his tallith gadol, like the hood of a cloak.


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