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When my kids were in yeshiva, the school had a policy that they were not allowed to wear kippot that had any writing other than their name, or "Yerushalayim" or something similar. I.e. - no logos like from sports teams or store ads (Yes, they exist. It looks a bit meshugah, but I think it's a clever idea.) The principal considered this "advertising to G-d", in a sense, and this was a Chilul Hashem while in the yeshiva. (I think he didn't want them to wear such kippot even outside of the yeshiva, but he couldn't enforce that.)

Are there any halachic problems with wearing an "advertising" kippah (as described, above)? Is it a chilul Hashem or just considered inappropriate or disrespectful to wear such a kippah in shul or while learning in a yeshiva, Bet Midrash, or for that matter even learning in private at home?

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    What about at all?
    – MTL
    Jul 16, 2014 at 14:58
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    @Shokhet - I did surmise that option. But, I assume that since so many kids as well as adults are wearing "sports" kippot and the fact that Judaica stores sell these, it's probably OK. I have trouble fathoming that thousands of sellers over the course of so many years are either ignorant or have been violating a halacha. Possible? Yes, but I'd rather judge meritoriously in this case.
    – DanF
    Jul 16, 2014 at 15:42
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    Interesting question. A buddy of mine had a Pokeball printed Kippah back in the day :P Jul 27, 2014 at 13:33
  • "1 or 2 "opinions" in the comments." I like that....time you put that up, mine were the only comments..... 8P
    – MTL
    Jul 28, 2014 at 23:32
  • @Shokhet - OK, you're right. My algebra wasn't working that day, or my glasses made me see double :-*
    – DanF
    Jul 29, 2014 at 13:08

3 Answers 3

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Shulchan Aruch O.C. 90:23

הבגדים המצויירים אף על פי שאינם בולטות אין נכון להתפלל כנגדם

It is not proper to pray facing colorful garments, even if they do not protrude.

Beis Yosef, citing Rambam, explains that the reason it is preferable to pray close to the wall is in order to not see distracting things.

If these kippot have drawings or writing on them which catch one's eye and are distracting (as I would assume an advertisement would be designed to be), then the one wearing it is bringing a distracting image into the shul and putting it in front of everyone standing near him.

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1 Aish says

The Talmud says that the purpose of wearing a kippah is to remind us of God, who is the Higher Authority "above us" (Kiddushin 31a).

2 Halachipedia quotes the Gemoro (Shabbat 156b) to say

“A Kippah or Yarmulke is a religious head covering worn to inspire fear of heaven in the mind of the one wearing it as it reminds the wearer that G-d is above a person all the time.”

3 Wikipedia quotes amongst other things

Covering one's head, such as by wearing a kippah, is described as "honoring God" (Shaar HaTzion, OC 2:6. )

4 Daily Halacha.com says:

There is considerable debate among the Halachic authorities as to whether or not wearing a Kippa constitutes an outright obligation or is just "Midat Hasidut" (measure of piety).

Whether there are halachic issues will depend on your position on this debate.

But, the question will always remain as to whether the purposes in 1,2 and 3 are achieved by the use of logos like from sports teams or store ads.

If the custom of using these logos becomes widespread, then it may still be possible to remain reminded of the Higher Authority "above us" to have “ fear of heaven” and to be “"honoring God". But 'early adopters' of this practice may find it more difficult to focus on the purpose of the kippah because of the interest their kippot will excite.

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  • Inevitably, you do thorough research. I appreciate that :-). My impression - I understand that for young kids having them wear a Cookie Monster kippah gets them excited to wear a kippah in the 1st place and keep it on. For them, it may be appropriate if not "necessary". For adults? I'm not sure I understand any need to wear a NJ Devils (example) kippah, and kal vachomer not an Oscar the Grouch kippah, even if logo kippot are popular. Your opinion on this angle?
    – DanF
    Jul 28, 2014 at 19:06
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I think we should look to the meaning of the word "yarmulke," which, as I understand it, means "fear" (yaar) the 'King' ("*melek" i.e. G-d). The Gemara at Shabbos 156b states "Cover your head in order that the fear of heaven may be upon you." Rabbi Hunah, son of Rav Yehoshua, is cited twice in separate gemarahs as someone who never walked four cubits (6.6 feet (2.0 m)) with his head uncovered. He explained "the Divine Presence is always over my head." Kiddushin 31a; Shabbat 118b. Later rabbis who codified the law adopted his reasoning and established it as a custom for Jewish men. See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 2:6; Mishna Berurah 2:6 notes 9 and 10; The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch cites a story from the Gemarah at Shabbos 156b about how Rav Nachman bar Yitzhok might have grown to become a thief had his mother not forced him to cover his head, as that practiced the fear of G-d in him. KSA 3:6.

During frightening times, when anti-Semitism is high, many people are encouraged to not wear a yarmulke in public because it identifies the wearer as a Jew and makes him a target. As wearing a yarmulke is a custom and not a law written in the Torah or ordained by the rabbis, leniencies are possible. But one who wears a yarmulke during his waking hours each day, knows that the yarmulke also puts a target on him from Above and among non-Jews, who will think poorly of Jews in general, if they see a kipah-wearing Jew act rudely, unkindly, or violate social norms and legal boundaries. Would we go to the grocery store and buy pork wearing a yarmulke? Even in emergencies, when I must use a public restaurant at a non-kosher restaurant, I will take off my yarmulke lest I be accused of being a hypocrite.

Accordingly, I think one should wear an unadorned yarmulke in order to be a "poster child" for pious Jews, rather than being a mere poster for big corporations.

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