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What is the esoteric or hashkafic significance of the shtreimel? Some things I have seen but without details or sources are that it is like a crown, that the number of pelts involved have numerical significance, and so on.

Sources are appreciated, and I am specifically not looking for answers that are limited to a practical basis, such as "Polish nobleman garb" or "decree that Jews should wear a tail on their heads". This question presupposes that there is in fact a deeper significance to it.

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This question comes as a more general version of this one, which I fear may be too specific to get many good answers. –  yoel Nov 15 '12 at 21:00
    
+1 Well posed.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ –  Double AA Nov 15 '12 at 21:02
    
Why not just edit the other one? –  Seth J Nov 15 '12 at 21:03
    
By "deeper significance behind it", do you mean that you are assuming it is not Polish nobleman's garb, or do you mean that, even if it was Polish nobleman's garb, it was adopted because a significance was seen in it or assigned to it, or that some significance has been established because it's been adopted so widely and for so long? Or are you not sure what you are looking for? –  Seth J Nov 15 '12 at 21:05
    
@SethJ It sounds like any or all of the above. Also I don't see a problem with asking a new question, although perhaps the old one should be closed as a dupe of this one. I'm not sure about that though. –  Double AA Nov 15 '12 at 21:07

2 Answers 2

From Wikipedia:

Symbolism

According to Rabbi Aaron Wertheim, Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz (1726–1791) stated, "The acronym for Shabbos is: Shtreimel Bimkom Tefillin -- the shtreimel takes the place of tefillin."[4] Since wearing special clothing on Shabbat is a form of sanctification, among the Hasidim of Galicia and Hungary, the shtreimel is associated with the holiness of Shabbat, a crown such as that worn by royalty, which enhances and beatifies Shabbat.

There are those[who?] who say that to wear a shtreimel is to wear a crown. Viewed from atop the head, the ring of tails is wrapped clockwise spirally connoting that the spiritual forces invoked by the shtreimel are radiating in such a fashion as to invoke the Divine Presence to become more tangible in creation.[5] even asserts that the number of furs used in the manufacture of the shtreimel has some significance. Common numbers are 13, 18, and 26, corresponding respectively to the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, the numerical value (gematria) of the word for life (Hebrew: חי‎), and the numerical value of the Tetragrammaton.[3] Contemporary shtreimlach may include higher numbers of tails. At least one maker creates shtreimelach with 42 tails, symbolizing the 42-letter Divine Name.


3. Arnon, Dan (1995). A Hat for all Season. Tel Aviv: Am Oved. ISBN 965-13-1021-9, p.88
4. Halachos V'halichos B'chasidus, p. 196
5. Arnon

As to the [who?], I have heard that from various chassidim too. Furthermore, the Crown is a reference to Keser, the top-most sfira from which all Divine influence emanates, which is then linked all the way down to the this-worldly Kingdom – Malchus – representing Shabbos. In other words, by wearing a crown (shtreimel), we bring down the Divine light into our otherwise mundane Shabbos-observance.

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Had the chassidim been living in a country where everyone wore straw hats, would they have said 'hey, let's wear big round fur ones'? –  user6591 Oct 31 at 0:23
    
@user6591 Jewish, and especially chassidic, "reasons" often seem very contrived to me too. –  NBZ Oct 31 at 14:11
    
I've seen paintings from the fifteen hundreds of European children and adults who had curled sidelocks. It seems very natural then that if people are growing peyos long and want to beautify the mitzvah that they would curl them. The problem is after the surrounding culture changes and modernizes, the people who wanted to bring praise to Hashem and show the world we can be normal and beautiful are left holding bizarre artifacts screaming that they are there to be different. We've done the same thing with our hats. –  user6591 Oct 31 at 14:35

Shabbos is Roshei Teivos S'htreimal B'Mkom T'filin (Imrei Pinchas)

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Thanks - is this all that the Imrei Pinchas says about it or does he go in to detail on the connection between shtreimel and tefilin? –  yoel Nov 15 '12 at 21:17
    
    
Could someone please summarize the Pirush for the non-Yiddish speakers? –  Jake Nov 15 '12 at 21:24
    
It is a bit too long to summarize. –  C. Ben Yosef Nov 15 '12 at 21:25
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@Jake there's a lot of information in there - I'll b'n try to to distill some of it and add it to this answer when I get home from work tonight. Alternatively, C. Ben Yosef or anybody else should feel free to do likewise. –  yoel Nov 15 '12 at 21:31

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