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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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Discussion (51)
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. Staff
October 29, 2016
At what age do young boys start to wear a kippah?
Phoenix Az
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.
Eliezer Zalmanov
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?
Z'eve Lane
May 16, 2016
Kippah, Jewish Law

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
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.
Eliezer Zalmanov
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).
February 22, 2015
This was really helpful !
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,
Janice Lewis Trinchi
August 12, 2014
to Mordecai and Jacqueline
Thanks! We corrected the chapter.