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In Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 157:1, the Ramma quotes a Beis Yoseif saying that shaas hashmad is only when the gizeira (decree) is specifically against Jews. The Shach there (#6) clarifies that if the gizeira is against the entire medina (country or jurisdiction), even though Jews are included, it is not called shaas hashmad.


It's not clear which practice you are looking to find the rational for, the larger or the smaller, but see the first tshuva in the Igros Moshe where he discusses Reb Shlomo Kluger's ruling to cover the majority of one's head. Reb Moshe says that it is a nice stringency to keep, but one is not obligated to be stringent, especially since most people are not ...

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