Searching for the root for Kipah (כפה) I found the word Kaphaph (כפף) from the root Kaph or Kaf כף.

Kaf (as a word) means (hand)palm, while yod refers to yad (the hand).

Kaf (as a letter כ) has a numerical value of 20, that is 2 times yod(י) or 2 hands, while יי also refers to HaShem.

***It looked like the Kipah could refer to HaShem's (hand)palm(s) above our heads.

Now I was wondering if there are some other sources that refer to HaShem as having his hands/palms above our heads?

A second question is if there's any relation with Yirat Shamayim/Elohiem; The Fear of G-d. Like in a Yarmulke which refers to this fear.*

Hopefully someone will be able to answer my questions.

  • I did some reading about this years ago and found that the word is related to k-f-f, to submit or bend over in submission
    – rosends
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 14:44
  • How about the putting both hands on someone's head when asking that Hashem bless them? (E.g. Friday night.)
    – Adám
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 16:01
  • Please note: The double yud for Hashem's name is an orthographic "abbreviation" or reference to the Tetragrammaton. There were other old conventions that looked like 3 yuds (or even 2 yuds and a lamed?).
    – WAF
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 1:33
  • See The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk zt"l, pages 133-137. Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 17:47
  • Yod actually means arm, not hand. Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 12:29

4 Answers 4


The word can mean a covering in general, or a head-covering in particular. In the Concordance, I only found three places in תנ"ך where the word appears in this form-

For example, ישעיהו ט:יג (and repeated later in ישעיהו):

וְזָנָב כִּפָּה וְאַגְמוֹן יוֹם אֶחָד

The Chabad translation, following Rashi translates it as "arch", and Artscroll translates it as "canopy". Rashi writes:

לשון מלכים ושלטונים כפה ארקוול"ר בלעז כלומר אותם החופפים עליהם ככיפה זו

An expression denoting kings and sultans. כִּפָּה, arcum voltum, arvolt in O.F. [an arch] i.e., those who hover over them like an arch. (Chabad translation)

On the other hand, the מצודות (and the מלבי"ם) relate the word to branch:

מצודת דוד- השרים הדומים לענף יפה

מצודת ציון- כן נקרא הענף כמו וכפתו לא רעננה (איוב טו:לב) לפי שהיא כפופה

This posuk in איוב is the other place where the word כיפה appears. Here's what Rashi writes there:

כפיית ענפיו כל ענפי אילן דומין לכיפה

And here's what the מצודת ציון writes:

ענפיו כמו כפות תמרים (שם כג) ע"ש שהמה כפופים

So we have here a close relationship between "canopy/arch", "branch" and "bent".

Note that the ערוך has an two entries for כפה, one meaning anything circular and the other referring to a covering. Of course, the ערוך is referring to the language of the גמרא, but I believe this reflects the relationship I mentioned above.

Rashi uses the term arch, which is a semi-circular structure.This appears to follow from כפוף meaning bent- as opposed to straight. כף (as in כפות תמרים) means branch, which have a bent shape. (Indeed, "arch" derives from the Latin "arcus" meaning bow, which is both "bent" and a "branch"!) Also consider כף= spoon, which also has the same circular shape- see the ערוך. The letter כ itself is a semi-circle bent shape.

In summary, kippa- a head-covering derives from the word in תנ"ך that means canopy/arch/covering. That word is derived from branch/bent. While "palm" may be the ultimate etymology, the word כפה is not directly related to it, rather it follows from "bent" or "branch".


'Everything is in HaShem's hand, except the fear of heaven.'

Maimonides said that this means that we have a free choice while some things are determined. If so, it's our choice to have His Palms on our heads as a sign and rememberance to follow His Will by our will (keter-principle). Beside this the laying of the hands upon one's head seems to have the meaning of 'representation' besides subjunction. The laying of the hands of Moshe on Yehoshua so that Yehoshua would resemble some caracteristics of Moshe, or the laying of hands on the Levites as a sign that they would handle in our name. We lay some weight on it. (think also about the children on Shabbat or offerings also). Maybe HaShem lays His hands upon us so that we represent Him, and act for him, that we give our life for him (as the offerings do for us), that we mat be as His children which are blessed by His Words that are laying like the yoke of heaven on our sholders to guide us like an ox is guided by it's yoke. Our heads guide our body maybe the Kipah symbolize that HaShem on it's turn guide our heads?

It's just some thoughts that going on and on in my head. There seems to be something beautiful i just can't reach within these words.


Not sure who says this but in respect to Yitzchak's blessing Yaakov and Yaakov's blessing Ephraim and Menashe, they say that Yitzchak's goats and the placing of Yaakov's hands on his grandchildren's heads were done to create some form of connection between the one giving the brachah and the one receiving it. Perhaps you could say the same thing here; Hashem places His "hands" on our "heads" to bring shefa to the world.


כפה & כפף

The ArtScroll Edition translates Isaiah 9:14 as 'canopy', It reminded me somehow of Chupah, Chupah within Torah is חפה from the root חפף 'which means 'to cover'.

(This is what I found: The word “Chuppah” is based on the root word “chafah,” which means to “cover” or “hide” and is similar to the word “chafaf,” meaning to “protect).

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