Kippah

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A Kippah is a religious garment worn to inspire fear of heaven as it reminds one that G-d is above a person all the time.

Actions forbidden if one doesn’t have a Kippah

  1. One shouldn’t walk (or travel[1] ) 4 amot without a Kippah. Nowadays the Kippah serves as an identification of religious Jews and so it’s important to wear it in order to show that one fears Heaven. [2]
  2. A Midat Chasidut (correct and laudable practice) is to wear it even when one walks less than 4 amot, [3] or one stands or sits for the time it takes to walk 4 amot [4] whether one is outside or indoors [5]
  3. One isn’t allowed to make Brachot without a Kippah, but if by accident (for example, the kippah fell off and one didn’t notice) one made a bracha without a Kippah one fulfills the bracha Bedieved. [6]
  4. One is allowed to think about Torah if he’s without a Kippah (such as if he’s in bed, or by a pool) [7]
  5. One is allowed to greet a Jew who isn’t wearing a Kippah even if he’ll respond “Shalom” which has some status of Hashem’s name. [8]

Wearing a Kippah to sleep

  1. There is a Midat Chadisut to wear it to sleep and if it’s falls off when one is sleeping one doesn’t have to be concerned with it. [9]

Size and Material of Kippah

  1. One should wear a Kippah that’s recognizable from all sides (front, back, and sides), but from Midat Chasidut one should wear one that covers majority or the entire head, especially when one is saying Kriyat Shema, Shemona Esreh, and Birkat HaMazon. [10]
  2. A kippah with holes in it is a acceptable Kippah. [11]
  3. If someone is wearing a wig with which there is a cloth underneath that’s not visible to the outside, there’s a dispute whether it counts as a Kippah or not. It’s preferable to be strict especially during Tefilah and while making Brachot. [12]
  4. One’s hand isn’t considered a Kippah in order to make Brachot, however someone else’s hand or one’s sleeve is sufficient. [13]

Who’s obligation in wearing a Kippah?

  1. Children also should wear a Kippah to inspire Yirat Shamayim. [14]
  2. Unmarried women don’t have the practice to cover their heads, yet it’s correct for them wear a covering during Shemona Esreh. Those who don’t wear a covering at all have what to rely on. [15]

Wearing a Kippah in a place not-suitable for a religious Jew

  1. If one is in a place that’s not suitable for a religious Jew to be such as a party with mixed dancing (or perhaps even a museum or theater) one should not remove one’s Kippah so as not to make a Chilul Hashem. [16]

Wearing a Kippah at work

  1. If one can’t take a job unless he doesn’t wear a Kippah at work, one doesn’t have to forfeit his job for this mitzvah. If they allow one to wear a regular hat one must wear such a hat. Also, when one enters another room or the marketplace one must put back on a Kippah even if one will be mocked as long as there is no concern of losing one’s job. [17]

Sources

  1. Taz 2:5 writes that traveling is the same as walking in this regard. Malbim in Artzot Hachaim (6, Meir LeAretz 48) and Halacha Brurah 2:11 concur.
  2. Kedushin 31a records Rabbi Yehoshua’s practice not to walk 4 amot without a head covering so that he would be reminded of Shechina that’s above him. Shabbat 156b writes that Rav Nachman’s mother was careful that her son always wore a head covering to keep upon him fear of Heaven. There is a long standing dispute whether there is an obligation or it’s only a Midat Chasidut. Zohar (Pinchas pg 245b, Naso pg 122b) implies that it’s only a obligation for a Talmid Chacham but for everyone else it’d be only a Midat Chasidut to wear it. Rambam (Deot 5:6; More Nevuchim 3:52), Kol Bo 11, Orchot Chaim (Tefiliah 48), and Tashbetz 547 in name of Maharam imply that it’s only a Midat Chasidut for a non-Talmid Chacham. However Sefer Manhig (Tefilah 49), Kitzur Piskei HaRosh (first perek of Kedushin), and Sh”t Mahari MeBruna 34, 165 write that it’s a obligation on every Jew to wear. S”A 2:6 writes “It’s forbidden to walk with an arrogant posture and one shouldn’t walk 4 amot without a head covering” Implying that Kippah is only a Midat Chasidut. [Similarly, it seems from the last of his writings in Bet Yosef (Siman 91) that it’s only Midat Chasidut compared to his earlier writings in Siman 8 and 46.] So is the opinion of Darkei Moshe 2:3, 8:4, Maharshal 72, Birkei Yosef 2:2, Magan Avraham 91:3, Buir HaGra 8:6, and Maamer Mordechai 2, 91:5. However, Taz 8:3 writes that it’s forbidden because of Chukat Akum. (Even according to this opinion one can be lenient if one has a reason to take off the Kippah as per Bet Yosef Y”D 178 and Rama against the Gra who forbids Chukot HaGoyim even if there is a reason to take it off. ) Pri Megadim A”A 2:6 and Sh”t Elef Lecha Shlomo O”C 3 differentiate between a complete head covering which is a Midat Chasidut and a partial head covering which is an obligation. However, Sh”t Igrot Moshe O”C 1 argues on this distinction and adds that perhaps one can make such a distinction within the opinion of the Taz. Sh”t Otzrot Yosef 1:4, Sh”t Yabea Omer 6:15 (4-5), Sh”t Yachave Daat 4:1, and Yalkut Yosef 1:7 write that even if we hold it’s a Midat Chasidut, nowadays since the Kippah is a symbol of someone religious, wearing a Kippah is somewhat more obligatory than a Midat Chasidut because there is a concern of Marit Ayin (suspicion) if seen without a Kippah.
  3. Sh”t Mahari MeBruna 34 permits if one walks less than 4 amot. However the Bach 2 implies from Rambam (Deot 5:6; More Nevuchim 3:52) that less than 4 amot is also forbidden. Taz 8:3, Bchor Shor (Shabbat 118b), and Birkei Yosef 2:3 concur. Magan Avraham 2:6 writes that it’s only a Midat Chasidut to wear it for walking less than 4 amot.
  4. Sh”T Mahari MeBruna 34 permits if one is just sitting and Magan Avraham 282:8 permits whether one is sitting or standing. Bechor Shor (Shabbat 118b), Birkei Yosef 2:3, Halacha Brurah 2:11 are strict as long as one waits the time it takes to walk 4 amot.
  5. Sh”t Maharshal 72 permits one not to wear a Kippah indoors. Knesset Hagedolah 2, Bear Heteiv 2:5, and Olat Tamid 2:5 quote the Maharshal. However Bach 2 argues on this distinction. Eliyah Rabba 2:4, Mishna Brurah 2:10, and Halacha Brurah 2:11 concur.
  6. Sh”t Otzrot Yosef 1:5 say that since the Rosh (on Brachot 60b), Rambam (Tefilah 7:4), and S”A 4 hold that the order of the Brachot is precise and Oter Israel BeTifarah is made for having a head covering, implying that the other Brachot can be made without a Kippah (Gra 8:6 makes similar implication from Rif). Nonetheless, Masechet Soferim has a dispute whether one can say Hashem’s name without a Kippah and Rabbenu Yerucham (quoted by Bet Yosef 91:3), Or Zaruha 2:43, S”A 91:3 rule stringently. Lechem Yehuda (Tefilah 5:5) argues that it seems that S”A 91:5 holds that one in Shemona Esreh is it forbidden not to have a Kippah. Perhaps S”A (retracting from his ruling in Bet Yosef like Rabbenu Yerucham) rules with the term “Yesh Omrim” and then an anonymous opinion and so we should follow the anonymous opinion. Yet, Sh”t Yabea Omer O”C 6:15(3) rejects this because S”A 206:3 is very clear that one can’t say Hashem’s name without a Kippah and S”A 91:5 meant there’s an added reason to wear a Kippah in Shemona Esrah. Sh”t Maharshal 72 says that perhaps from halacha it’s permitted but since the Minhag is not to say a bracha without a Kippah one shouldn’t be lenient (Chida in Sh”t Chaim Shaal 2:35 and Kiseh Rachamim (Masechet Soferim 14) writes similarly). Gra (Biur HaGra 8:6 and Meorei Or (Bear Sheva 15b)) writes it’s only a Midat Chasidut and if there’s a bracha which one will miss if he gets a Kippah (such as if he just heard thunder) he can make the bracha. Sh”t Yabea Omer 6:15(6) says Bedieved one fulfills his bracha.
  7. Sh”t Yabea Omer 6:15(7), Sherit Yosef 2 pg 370.
  8. Sh”t Yabea Omer 6:15(8). See further Sh”t Otzrot Yosef 1:5e
  9. Sh”t Otzrot Yosef 1:5 say that since the Rosh (on Brachot 60b), Rambam (Tefilah 7:4), and S”A 4 hold that the order of the Brachot is precise and Oter Israel BeTifarah is made for having a head covering, implying that the other Brachot can be made without a Kippah (Gra 8:6 makes similar implication from Rif). Certainly then, there’s no obligation to wear a Kippah to sleep as the Leket Yosher pg 46 writes. However, Eliyah Rabba in name of the Shlah says that one should wear it to sleep as a Midat Chasidut. Mishna Brurah 2:11, Kaf HaChaim 2:18, and Halacha Brurah 2:12 bring this opinion as halacha.
  10. Halacha Brurah 2:12 (quoting Sh”t Otzrot Yosef 1:4e). Pri Megadim A”A 2:6 and Sh”t Elef Lecha Shlomo O”C 3 differentiate between a complete head covering which is a Midat Chasidut and a partial head covering which is an obligation. However, Sh”t Igrot Moshe O”C 1 argues on this distinction and adds that perhaps one can make such a distinction within the opinion of the Taz. Sh”t Otzrot Yosef 1:5 adds there’s an added concern by Kriyat Shema, Shemona Esrah, and Birkat HaMazon as in Mishna Brurah 91:9 (concerning Shema) and Brachot 51a (concerning Birkat HaMazon).
  11. S”A 91:4 based on Sh”t Trumat HaDeshen 10 says that even a straw head covering is acceptable. Sh”t Chatam Sofer 6:2 (quoted by Halacha Brurah 2:14) says that this permits even Kippah’s made with holes in them.
  12. Pachad Yitzchak (20 D”H Kama Chasif, 80 D”H Peirukanu), Olot HaTamid 2, Sh”t Levushei Mordechai (Tanina O”C 108) say that Marit HaAyin applies to Kipah and so one should wear a Kippah on top of the wig. Maamer Mordechai 91:6 says limits it to Tefilah and Brachot. However Mekor Chaim 2:6, Hagot Rabbi Akiva Eiger 91, and Artzot HaChaim (2, Meir LeAretz 54) argue that there’s no issue of Marit Ayin since Kippah is only a Midat Chasidut to start with. Mishna Brurah 2:12 quotes the dispute without ruling on the topic. Sh”t Chaim Shaal 2:35(1) writes that one should wear it because of Minhag. Halacha Brurah 2:15 quotes the dispute and says it’s preferable to be strict especially during Tefilah and Brachot.
  13. S”A 91:4 (based on Sh”t Trumat HaDeshen 10 against the Sh”t Maharshal 72 who is more lenient) rules that one’s own hand isn’t acceptable but one’s friend’s hand is acceptable. Eliyah Rabba 91:5, Taz 8:3, Machsit HaShekel 91:4, Artzot HaChaim 2:6, Mishna Brurah 2:11, Halacha Brurah 2:16 conclude that one can rely on the Maharshal to walk four amot but not to make Brachot. Bach 91 says one’s sleeve is acceptable and so is the Minhag. Mishna Brurah 2:12 and Halacha Brurah 2:16 bring this as halacha.
  14. Magan Avraham 2:6 proves from the Gemara that a child doesn’t need a Kippah but it’s correct for them to have a Kippah to inspire Yirat SHamayim. Eliyah Rabba 2:4, Shulchan Aruch HaRav 2:7, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 3:6, Mishna Brurah 2:11, Artzot HaChaim 6, and Halacha Brurah 2:19 concur.
  15. Yalkut Yosef (91:8, Tefilah pg 318, Sherit Yosef 2 pg 368), Sh”t Otzrot Yosef 1:5
  16. Sh”t Igrot Moshe O”C 2:95e writes that if one goes to a museum or theater which is forbidden, one shouldn’t take off one’s Kippah as we don’t say since you’re doing one sin you can do another also. [Perhaps Rav Moshe considers entering a museum or theater inappropriate, perhaps because of possible inappropriate or profane material that’s on display.] A more substantial claim is that if one’s Yetzer Hara is overpowering and one is going to go to the museum anyway, in order to minimize Chilul Hashem one should take off one’s Kippah if one does it Leshem Shamayim, to which Rav Moshe writes, if this is a case of a person giving into their Yetzer there is little chance he’s going to take off his Kippah Leshem Shamayim and so it’s forbidden. Sh”t Igrot Moshe Y”D 2:33 writes that teens going to a place where there is mixed dancing and Perisut which is totally forbidden, should not remove their Kippah. He says that the claim that if they wear their Kippah people will think that a religious Jew is allow be involved in mixed dancing is incorrect, rather, we don’t tell someone who’s already doing a sin to do another one. Following the incorrect logic, Rav Moshe writes, we should also tell him not to follow any mitzvah so it’s clear he’s a Rasha so that people don’t think that a religious Jew can go mixed dancing. Since he’s doing a sin in public it’s also a source for Chilul Hashem but would only increase Chilul Hashem for him to do another sin of not wearing a Kippah. Nonetheless, the religious community to make it clear that it’s forbidden so that people don’t learn from such teens who are sinning.
  17. Sh”t Igrot Moshe (C”M 1:93 and O”C 4:2) writes that since wearing a Kippah is neither a positive or negative mitzvah one need not loss a large portion of his money by not taking such a job. However since they don’t care if you wear it in another room or in the marketplace one must wear it in such places. Sh”t Igrot Moshe Y”D 4:11(3) adds that even according to the Taz who holds there’s a prohibition of Chukot HaGoyim (that the practice of Goyim used to be to always wear hats and when they saw down to eat or something similar they would take off their hat) nowadays it wouldn’t apply since people don’t wear hats at all. Thus, one can take a job at a place where they don’t allow one to wear a Kippah. However if they allow one to wear a regular hat (not a Kippah) one should wear a hat he wears regularly.