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Cover your head in order that the fear of Heaven may be upon you

November 12, 2012

The sources for wearing a kippah are found in the Talmud. In tractate Shabbat 156b it states: Cover your head in order that the fear of heaven may be upon you. As well, in tractate Kiddushin 31a it states Rabbi Honah ben Joshua never walked 4 cubits (2 meters) with his head uncovered. He explained: “Because the Divine Presence (Shekhina) is always over my head. ” As to the obligation of wearing a yarmulke, halakhic experts agree that it is a custom. The prevailing view among Rabbinical authorities is that this custom has taken on a kind of force of law (Shulkhan Arukh, Orach Chayim 2:6), because it is an act of Kiddush Ha-Shem, “Sanctifying the Holy Name. ” From a strictly talmudic point of view, however, the only moment when a Jewish man is required to cover his head is during prayer (Mishne Torah, Ahavah, Hilkhot Tefilah 5:5).

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