I wear a kippa and tzitzis everday. The source for tzitzit is easy, we say it in shma and it's mentioned in the Gemara in brachot. The source for the kippa is wholly unknown to me, yet it is such an essential part of my daily life and I'd like to be more informed.

  • Where is it discussed in Rabbinic literature?
  • What is the motivation for wearing a kippa?
  • When did it come into practice in history?
  • What did the rabbis in mishnaic times wear?
  • What are the halachic ramifications of wearing a kippa?
  • Does one get schar for wearing a kippa?

1 Answer 1


This was a originally a "middus Chassidus" in the time of the gemara. As time went on, in became a minhag of klal Yisrael and gained the status of a din, because everyone took it on. As explained below, the difference is based on whether or not one runs into difficulties at work.

Talmud Bavli Kiddushin 31a, & Shabbat 118b. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 2 (siman 6), 8 & 91, and Taz.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Iggrot Moshe, Orach Chaim, vols. 1 & 4; & Choshen Mishpat, vol. 1.

Kippah: A Blessing On Your Head

From a biblical standpoint, only the Kohanim serving in the Temple were required to cover their heads (see Exodus 28:4). Yet for many centuries, the obligatory custom has been for Jewish men to wear a kippah all the time, as the Code of Jewish Law says, "It is forbidden to walk four cubits without a head covering."

Kippa why?

The wearing of a kippa (skullcap) first appears in the Talmud as an act of piety. Another word for kippa is Yarmulke, which means "awe of the King [G-d]" in Aramaic. This practice is codified in the Shulchan Aruch as an obligation at the time of prayer, and as something that one "should do" at other times. Therefore according to the Shulchan Aruch, a head cover is a Halacha (Law) during prayer, and an important custom at other times.

However, the Taz (mid 17th century, Eastern Europe) suggests that although a headcovering was originally an act of piety, it gained the status of Torah Law, due to the custom of non-Jews to remove their caps as a sign of honor. Since the Torah prohibits Jews from "going in the ways of non-Jews," one who does not cover his head would therefore be in transgression of a Negative Commandment of the Torah.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, in his Responsa, rules that, based on the Taz, one should be stringent. He adds, however, that there are indications that even the Taz might agree that in America [and elsewhere] where it is no longer the way of Gentiles to remove their head coverings as a sign of honor - for the most part they don't even wear head coverings at all - the prohibition against going about with an uncovered head is no longer considered to be a Torah prohibition.


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