Why don a yarmulke?

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  • #3126

    Greg P.
    Member

    Why do Jewish men wear yarmulkes (the little hats)? As a non-Jewish person, to me yarmulkes appear to be just a piece of clothing.

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    Name : Greg P., Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Catholic, Age : 22, City : Los Angeles, State : CA Country : United States, Occupation : Student, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #15614

    GARY
    Member

    The head covering to which you refer in your question serves many purposes. Perhaps the most important can be explained in a famous jewish story: A man once came to Rabbi Hillel and said, ‘teach me all there is to know about judaism while I stand on one foot’. Rabbi Hillel answered him, ‘Do not do to others what you would not want done to you. The rest is all commentary’. The yarmulka serves as a reminder to religous Jews that there is a G-D and that HE expects a great deal from us. As long as we wear the yarmulka, we are careful not to defame HIS name by behaving or speaking in an offensive manner. The yarmulka is a sign for us and for the world that we have chosen to represent a lifestyle that HE has outlined for mankind; that being a diligent study of Torah, giving charity, and acts of kindness toward our fellow man. Finally, the yarmulka reminds us of the lesson of rabbi Hillel. We try not to do to others what we would not want others to do to us.

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    Name : GARY, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Black/African American, Religion : Jewish, Age : 38, City : Los angeles, State : CA Country : United States, Occupation : professional, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, 
    #47586

    Alexis31367
    Participant

    Male Jews cover their heads out of respect to G-d. It’s also necessary to cover one’s head when reciting prayers or blessings. The specific use of a yarmulke is cultural rather than religious, though, and you’ll often see men (especially more right-wing Orthodox) wearing hats (often black) on top of or instead of a kipa.

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    Name : Alexis31367, Gender : F, Religion : Jewish, City : Huntington Station, State : NY Country : United States, Education level : 4 Years of College, 
    #37888

    Whitty__
    Member

    Kippot, or yarmulkes, are worn by all branches of Judaism. All Orthodox, some Conservative and very few Reform Jews wear them constantly. It is common practice for all Jews to wear them in synagogue, both men and women, although some Reform Jews choose not to. The Talmud says ‘cover [the child’s] head so that he will have the fear of heaven.’ The Talmud also associates a covered head with humility. Therefore, wearing a yarmulke is a sign of humility to and respect for G-d.

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    Name : Whitty__, City : Washington, State : DC Country : United States, 
    #27797

    Bacr23458
    Participant

    This is a fairly basic tradition. Yarmulkes (Kippot – kippah s.) are worn as an acknowledgement of humility and respect in the presence of The Almighty. By the way, many women now wear them, as well, mostly in synagogue. While these items have become more decorated, they are not merely a fashion accessory, but a statement of devotion.

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    Name : Bacr23458, Gender : F, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Jewish, Age : 40s, City : Seymour, State : CT Country : United States, Occupation : Sales/Religious school teacher, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #23596

    Susan27495
    Participant

    Jewish men are commanded to cover their heads at all times as a reminder that G-d is above them. It doesn’t really matter what they wear. Very observant men cover their heads all the time. Others, only in synagogue. Yarmulkes are traditional for those of eastern european descent, but there’s nothing magical or special about that particular shape. Any head covering is fine.

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    Name : Susan27495, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Jewish, City : New York, State : NY Country : United States, Occupation : attorney, 
    #17759

    Aaron-L
    Participant

    The word ‘yarmulke’ is sort of a Yiddish version of two Hebrew words that together mean ‘fear of God.’ The yarmulke is supposed to remind men to be humble, that they are literally no higher than the top of their head, and that there is a God above them to whom they are accountable. The other word for yarmulke that religious Jews use more frequently is pronounced ‘kee-pah.’

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    Name : Aaron-L, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Jewish, Age : 29, City : Beverly Hills, State : CA Country : United States, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, 
    #24260

    Andy
    Member

    That’s a good question. I am impressed you actually took the time to learn how to spell it correctly. Yarmulke is a yiddish word for skullcap. The Hebrew word that we use is kippah. Anyway, the practice dates back to Roman times. In ancient Rome, people wore headcoverings to signify they were servants. Roman Jews took to wearing the hats in temple and while praying to show that they were servants of the Lord. Gradually, they started wearing them outside as well, because they wished to show reverence for God no matter where they were. There really is no religious meaning for wearing a skullcap as opposed to a hat. Basically, they are popular because they are so light and easy to wear. If you look at orthodox Jews, they wear great big hats instead.

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    Name : Andy, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Jewish, Age : 33, City : Los Angeles, State : CA Country : United States, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #26941

    Hope
    Member

    A friend once asked me the very same question. The answer I gave her is really the simplest answer I could think of: it’s like at baseball games, when they do the National Anthem and men take their hats off. Christians take their hats off to show respect; Jews put their hats on.

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    Name : Hope, Gender : Female, Sexual Orientation : Bisexual, Religion : Jewish, Age : 38, City : Pittsburgh, State : PA Country : United States, Education level : 4 Years of College, 
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