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The Kippah (Skullcap)

The Kippah (Skullcap)


A kippah (literally: dome) is the Hebrew word for skullcap, also referred to in Yiddish as a yarmulke, or less frequently as a koppel.

Jewish law requires men to cover their heads as a sign of respect and reverence for G‑d when praying, studying Torah, saying a blessing or entering a synagogue.

This practice has its roots in biblical times, when the priests in the Temple were instructed to cover their heads.

Traditionally, Jewish men and boys wear the kippah at all times, a symbol of their awareness of, and submission to, a "higher" entity.

Although it is not explicitly required by law, the practice is noted in the Talmud, and through the ages, this became an accepted Jewish custom to the point that according to the majority of halachic authorities, it is mandatory. One should, therefore, not walk or even sit, bareheaded. Small children should also be taught to cover their heads.

Aside from the commonblack kippah, many wear kippot (plural form of kippah) of various colors or designs. Some communities have developed kippah designs that are highly intricate works of art, such as those made by Jewish artisans from Yemen and Georgia, most of whom now live in Israel.

For more on the Kippah, click here and here.

Lorne E. Rozovsky (1943-2013) was a lawyer, author, educator, a health management consultant and an inquisitive Jew.
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Richard August 12, 2017

The Jews I know from work do not wear hats. So the "mandatory" directive is coming from whom? Seems that many Jews don't care about some edict from some book, or whatever body of men is telling them to wear a goofy hat. Reply

Simcha Bart for Los Angeles August 16, 2017
in response to Richard:

You may be right that they don't care, but most probably they just don't know any better + that is why Chabad is here - to let people know about Jewish values and practice. By the way, it doesn't have to be "goofy" - any form of head covering, a baseball hat for example, will do just fine. If you would like you can discuss this further with one of our Rabbis via email. Reply

Binyamin Sacramento August 16, 2017
in response to Richard:

Richard, the Jewish men you know are probably non-observant (unorthodox) Jews. Generally speaking, only Orthodox Jewish men wear kippot.

Approximately 10% of American Jews are Orthodox.

Wearing a kippah raises one's spiritual awareness and changes one's personal paradigm. Reply

S. Austin NJ March 26, 2017

Miss Janice. Why do the women cover their heads? Reply Staff via November 1, 2016

To Anonymous Traditionally Jewish boys start to wear the kippah at age three, many start introducing it in the months prior to the child's third birthday. Reply

Anonymous Phoenix Az October 29, 2016

At what age do young boys start to wear a kippah? Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for August 15, 2016

To Ze'ev The reminder is not for G-d, it is for us. And being that we are physical finite creatures, we need a physical reminder. Reply

Z'eve Lane NYC August 12, 2016

So why do we wear them all the time as a physical reminder of an infinite God? Couldn't the symbolism of these"traditions" of Kippah or suggesting The star of David means Judaism get in the way for all nations to see the same thing? Since they worship physicality as a means to the absolute truth? Reply

David NYC May 16, 2016

Kippah, Jewish Law Eliezer,

Thanks for the clarification on "Jewish Law" (Shuchan Aruch). In that seemingly most Jewish men do not wear the Kippah, well what does that mean? Also, any thoughts on the large black brimmed hats question that don't seem to fit? Is this more stylistic than anything else?

I appreciate your comments,

Thanks you Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for May 15, 2016

To David "Jewish law" means the laws dictated in the Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch). While the State of Israel does incorporate many Jewish values in its current laws, it is not an indication of what true Jewish law is meant to be. Reply

David NYC May 12, 2016

"Jewish Law" or "Judaic Law?" First, I'm ignorant and this is a genuine question.

Regarding your brief explanation of the Yarmulke or Kippah you state "Jewish law requires men to cover their heads ...." But would that be Judaic law since there are so many Jews who are not religious nor observant. Is it, perhaps more technically correct, to consider it a law/requirement of Judaism as a religion? What would "Jewish law" be? I mean even in Israel more Jewish men don't wear the Kippah than do.

On another, though similar note, I often observe more conservative orthodox men wearing all black "suits" with "tails" underneath (told you I am ignorant) wearing large brimmed black hats and have wondered why so many of them wear these hats that appear way too small for their heads. In fact, they seem so small for their heads that when sitting on the back of their heads seem like the hat is going to fall off, I've wondered how it even stays on their heads. (I hope I explained this part adequately). Reply

Leah London October 16, 2017
in response to David:

It is a custom to Hasidim to wear a hat and under the hat is the kippah, actually even if they dance won’t fall off as it is properly fitted to the head! Ultra orthodox, the skvers a Hasidic sect wears as well!!! Reply

kaiza February 22, 2015

This was really helpful ! Reply

Janice Lewis Trinchi Kitchener September 4, 2014

Should women wear a head covering if so when and where? As a female entity in the congregation of the synagogue,
Why do woman cover there head in a synagogue, Do you know the answer to this question, as I do,
Ask me in the comments and I will tell you, Reply

Dan NY April 19, 2017
in response to Janice Lewis Trinchi:

Why not just tell us here!?! Or is it a secret?? Reply

Editor August 12, 2014

to Mordecai and Jacqueline Thanks! We corrected the chapter. Reply

Mordecai Claude August 12, 2014

You're right.
As I posted a correction earlier, it is mentioned in (Exodus 28:4) not in (Exodus 27:4).
Menachem Posner probably mistyped it. Reply

Jacqueline Cirencester UK August 9, 2014

Exodus 27:4 has no mention of a man wraring a anything to covet his head as you suggested. Reply

Ilene South Carolina August 6, 2014

To Chana Thank you, Chana! Reply

Chana Benjaminson August 6, 2014

To Ilene What a wonderful gift! I would check with the mom to see if there is a particular style the family uses or not...other than that you should be ok. Reply

Ilene South Carolina August 6, 2014

Is it ok for me to crochet a Kippah for my friend's child? My friend's 3 year old child is having an upsharin - his first haircut - soon and I thought I'd crochet a kippah as a gift. Is that ok? Are there special rules I need to know? Reply

Mordecai Claude Brooklyn, NY July 10, 2014

Men Head Covering Bible Source Correction However, it is rooted in the Bible where we read that the priests wore special headcoverings (Exodus 28:4). Reply

Menachem Posner Montreal July 10, 2014

In the Bible You are correct. The Bible does not mandate that men cover their hair. As you can read in the above article, it is a custom that developed later. However, it is rooted in the Bible where we read that the priests wore special headcoverings (Exodus 28:4). Reply

Sophie Uk January 16, 2014

Homework Thanks it really helped Reply

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