Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Faceless With a Kippah (PHOTO BLOG)

February 8, 2013 8:54 am 0 comments

Faceless with a Kippah © Todd Weinstein

There is considerable debate among the Halachic authorities as to whether or not wearing a kippah is required by law.

Jewish law dictates that a man is required to cover his head during prayer. Originally, wearing a head covering outside of the synagogue for Orthodox males was a custom.

Today, according to some Halachic authorities it has since taken on “the force of law” because it is an act of Kiddush Hashem [glorifying God]. The 17th-century authority David HaLevi Segal suggested that the reason was to distinguish Jews from their non-Jewish counterparts, especially while at prayer.

Others, however, including the Taz (commentary to the Shulchan Aruch by Rabbi David Ben Shemuel Halevi, Poland, 1586-1667), held that nowadays wearing a Kippa is required according to the strict Halacha.

Other halachic authorities like Ovadia Yosef rule that it should be worn to show affiliation with the observant community.

The Talmud states, “Cover your head in order that the fear of heaven may be upon you.” Rabbi Hunah ben Joshua never walked 4 cubits (2 meters) with his head uncovered. He explained: “Because the Divine Presence is always over my head.”

According to the Shulchan Arukh, Jewish men are strongly recommended to cover their heads, and doing so, should not walk more than four cubits bareheaded.

Covering one’s head, such as by wearing a kippah, is described as “honoring God.” The Mishnah Berurah modifies this ruling, adding that the Achronim established it as a requirement to wear a head covering even when traversing less than four cubits, and even when one is standing still, indoors and outside. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch cites a story from the Talmud (Shabbat 156b) about Rav Nachman bar Yitzchok who might have become a thief had his mother not saved him from this fate by insisting that he cover his head, which instilled in him the fear of God. In many communities, boys are encouraged to wear a kippah from a young age in order to ingrain the habit.

The Vilna Gaon says one can make a berakhah (blessing) without a kippah, since wearing a kippah is only midos chassidus (“exemplary attribute”). Recently, there has been an effort to suppress earlier sources that practiced this leniency, including erasing lenient responsa from newly published books.

According to Rabbi Isaac Klein, a Conservative Jew ought to cover his head when in the synagogue, at prayer or sacred study, when engaging in a ritual act, and when eating. In the mid-19th century, reformers led by Isaac Wise completely rejected the kippot after an altercation in which Rabbi Wise’s kippah was knocked off his head.

Weinstein is an internationally acclaimed photographer living in New York, he can be emailed at: ionruach at gmail.com.

Faceless with a Kippah © Todd Weinstein.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Relationships Yossi Vardi Credits Pushy Jewish Mother for His Startup Success

    Yossi Vardi Credits Pushy Jewish Mother for His Startup Success

    Millionaire entrepreneur Yossi Vardi credited his success in start-ups to his Jewish mother continuously pushing him to do better, Daily Mail reported on Thursday. “Jewish mothers are never satisfied and nothing is ever good enough,” he said, adding that his mother, who died 15 years ago, used to compare him with his cousins and say he was “an idiot.” “For most of my life I have been trying to show her I’m not,” he continued. “I keep on trying even now.” Vardi, […]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Famed actor Seth Rogen on Tuesday unveiled with typical comic fanfare the trailer for his new Christmas film. The movie “was made by Jews… and opens on Thanksgiving,” Rogen pointed out on Twitter. The Night Before tells the tale of three “ride or die homies” celebrating one last debauchery-filled Christmas Eve reunion before they become too busy to keep up their annual tradition. In an effort to make the night as memorable as possible, they set out to find the “Nutcracka Ball – the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish History Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    A June 2015 art exhibit, “The Transformative Power of Art,” at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, harnessed the universal language of art to convey an important message: “Our fragile Mother Earth faces the devastating consequences of climate change, a defining challenge of our time.” The exhibit also included sixteen portraits of people from all over the world who have “contributed to the common good of humanity in one way or another and have transformed the way we […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    A 32-year-old Circassian Israeli Muslim Mixed Martial Arts fighter from Abu Ghosh says he takes pride in fighting under the Israeli flag, Israel’s Walla reported on Sunday. Like most Circassian Israelis, Jackie “the Punishment” Gosh was born Sunni Muslim. He became observant about eight years ago, and is now scrupulous in following his religion’s tenets, praying five times a day and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Gosh is also very proud of his Israeli nationality, and sees no contradiction between […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    A new documentary explores the lives and work of Jewish and Arab rappers in Israel and how the ongoing conflict in the region has impacted their lyrics, the U.K.’s Jewish Chronicle reported on Thursday. Hip Hop in the Holy Land is a six-part series co-directed by Mike Skinner, the British frontman of hip-hop group The Streets, and produced by Noisey, a music channel published by Vice news. The first episode, published last week, shows Skinner meeting with Tamer Nafar, the founder of one of […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada 49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    New 49ers running back and Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne apologized on Wednesday for a tweet in which he raised the age-old myth that Jews were historically responsible for Jesus Christ’s death. Reaching out to his Jewish fans, and the chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, Hayne tweeted: “To the Jewish community @DvirAbramovich #WeAreAllOne.” Underneath, he keenly included a screenshot of a text message to elaborate on his apology: “I sincerely apologize for my tweets on July 1. I […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot reminisced about her childhood in Israel during an interview published in this month’s edition of Vanity Fair. “I don’t remember this, but my mom told me that when I was three they threw a party on the rooftop of the house. They put me to bed, and I heard people coming into the house and no one came to me. I went to the rooftop and took a hose and I started to spray water on everyone, just […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    An Israeli organization is helping wounded U.S. veterans move past their physical and psychological challenges by connecting them with injured Israeli soldiers who understand what they’ve been through. “What we discovered very early is that there’s no ‘professional, psychiatrist, social worker’ or anything like that [or] pills that can come even close to helping a soldier who fought in combat, who was wounded, who lost his friends. No one can help him like another person who’s been through exactly what he has,” Rabbi Chaim Levine, […]

    Read more →