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If I want to do something and/or go somewhere and partake in something that is permissible, but I just don't want anyone to hassle me about being Jewish, am I allowed to wear a baseball cap or some other nondescript head wear, instead of a kipah?

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@Will, can you give us some idea why you think this might be a problem? And CYLOR if you think there isn't an obvious 'yes' answer here. – Seth J Mar 16 '12 at 14:24
@SethJ because someone said to me "If you don't feel comfortable going somehwere / doing something without your kippah on, you probably shouldn't be doing it." I wanted the question to lack examples, because people might start arguing whether the examples themselves are permitted - but okay, let's say I have some non-frum friends back in the US, and I want to go out with them for a beer in a bar. (a sports bar, NOT a pritzus lady bar). Beer is kosher, the cup is glass etc, it's all mutar; but I don't want to be stared at all evening b/c of my kipah. I just want to blend in. – user1095 Mar 16 '12 at 14:30
Is your question whether or not it's permitted to try and blend in with non-Jews? – yoel Mar 16 '12 at 14:46
@Will, purely based on past experience alone, including years of conflicting opinions depending on which rabbi was asked this exact same question, I can probably tell you with some degree of authority that you will get a couple of links to "mussar shmoozen" online with one or two well-intentioned but ultimately non-conclusive sources (M"B, perhaps), leading to the same conclusion: if you're going out make sure the activity is reasonable for a person on your level of observance. If you are uncomfortable in any given setting with a Kippah, consider going someplace else... – Seth J Mar 16 '12 at 15:08
...if you are going there regardless and the question is ultimately "may I" - will Halachah permit me to - go out with a baseball cap instead of a Kippah, the answer is yes. – Seth J Mar 16 '12 at 15:09
up vote 5 down vote accepted

It seems to be that the answer depends on the effect that a baseball-cap covering your head has on you. From what I understand, the reason why we cover our heads all day is because of the gemara in Shabbat (156b) which says:

כסי רישיך כי היכי דתיהוי עלך אימתא דשמיא

(My) translation: "Cover your head so that there will be on you fear of heavens"

which is quoted in the Shulchan Aruch as Halacha (O"C 2:6). If a baseball cap indeed imbues you with a sense of "fear of heavens," then it should be enough to fulfill the words of the gemara. (On the other hand, if your standard kippa does not fulfill this gemara, perhaps you should move on to a more extreme option.)

The cultural aspect of a kippa, from what I understand, (of course I may be completely wrong,) is outside the boundaries of Halacha, which makes it difficult to address definitively. Nowadays, when a kippa has become the symbol of an Orthodox Jew, I could see how some may compare hiding it to מושך עורלתו- someone who covers up his Berit Mila because he is ashamed to be in a covenant with God, which is a very serious offense (Rambam Teshuva 3:6), but I don't think that Halachically it can be classified as such, considering that Halachically it doesn't represent a Jew, the way a Berit Mila does.

(I think that it goes without saying, though, that CYLOR is pretty applicable here.)

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Those who don't have yiras shamayim, throw off their head coverings entirely. Wearing something on ones head at all, when the general public are not, is already a meaningful internal sign. – user1095 Mar 23 '12 at 6:39

HaRav Haim Levi Shelit"a (Anshe Hayil 1:55) says hats count for a head covering.

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I have been told that the head should be covered at all times. This being said I don't always wear a Kippah as a hat seems to work just fine and protects my face from the sun's rays. If you wear the head covering as a fulfillment of the requirement, and not to blend-in with the crowds then the answer is yes, wear your cap, hat or whatever. If you are afraid of looking like a Jew by wearing a Kippah and wish to trade it for a hat in public then I would advise against the hat and go talk with your Rabbi. Some places of work will not allow Kippah (Mining, construction, etc...) If would then be assumed that any head covering allowed by the place of work should be used. Some of us also wear both, the Kippah underneath the hat to gain the benefits of both.

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Joel, welcome to Mi Yodeya and thanks for your perspective. Since we don't know you, your advice is not worth all that much on your say-so: can you source any of it? Also, please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. – msh210 Sep 9 '12 at 5:03

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