web analytics
December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Yarmulke: Crown Of Honor, Sign Of Humility


An old Jew, stripped to his ill-fitting pajama bottoms, his ribs pronounced in his emaciated frame, is being mocked as he is kicked and prodded through a double line of soldiers.

Though frightened, the Jew endures the physical and verbal abuse with a conscious dignity. But then, one of the soldiers strikes the old Jew so hard that the cloth yarmulke perched atop his bald head comes flying off, landing on the gravel.

At first, the old Jew is unaware he has lost the yarmulke, but after a moment his hand goes reflexively to his head. Realizing it is gone, he quickly searches the ground. He spots it by the boot of one of the soldiers.

Despite the taunts of the soldiers, he reaches down to retrieve it. He is rewarded for his efforts with a sharp kick to the ribs from the point of the soldier’s boot. But that is of less concern to him than the fact that he had retrieved his yarmulke.

With the dignity that has marked his progression from the first, he continues forward until finally the whips and beatings knock him to his knees. A final blow by the butt of a soldier’s gun is the last indignity the old Jew suffers in the land of the living.

As the soldiers kick the old man’s body out of the way, they do bother to note the yarmulke left behind in the mud. Already they have moved on to their next amusement.

Somewhere, many centuries before, a different Jew had died.

After his burial and Kaddish, the man’s soul rose to Heaven to receive the Divine judgement. When it arrived, it presented the good and bad deeds performed during the man’s life and then awaited judgment. But no judgment came. In the majestic hush of Heaven, something unimaginable had occurred. Never before had the heavenly tribunal been presented with such a case; the good and bad deeds of this soul were exactly equal.

The soul could neither enter the Gates of Paradise nor could it be cast intoHell. The mighty tribunal determined it was destined to hover aimlessly between Heaven and Earth until God Himself should take pity and beckon the soul unto Him.

The soul howled in agony at the verdict. Taking pity on it, the Heavenly shammas offered a glimmer of hope.

“Fly down, little soul, and hover close to the world of the living, and when you’ve brought three appropriate gifts, rest assured – the Gates of Paradise will open to you, the gifts will do their work.”

The soul hovered close to earth century after century until finally it collected its first two gifts: a bit of earth from the Holy Land mixed with the blood of a Jewish martyr, and a pin soaked with the blood of a modest and pious Jewess, also martyred.

Only one more gift! But what could that gift be? How many years must the poor soul search for the gift that would ensure its acceptance into Paradise?

After centuries more of searching, the soul landed in an unknown prison yard. There, two long rows of soldiers faced each other, creating a narrow passage between them, a narrow passage through which an old, emaciated Jew was pushed, prodded and beaten. The soul viewed the torture of this poor man with horror and sadness. The dignity the old Jew managed to preserve was remarkable, but his calm seemed only to incite these soldiers to greater brutality. And then the Jew fell to his knees.

A moment later, he was dead.

The hovering soul came closer. There, in the mud, it saw the murdered man’s forgotten yarmulke. It collected the unobserved yarmulke, the “dirtied piece of cloth” that had earned the man so many wicked blows and carried it up to Heaven. There, this third gift was accepted as “truly beautiful. Unusually beautiful.” The soul entered Paradise and eternal rest.

The yarmulke, or skullcap, like so much in Judaism, serves two different and seemingly opposing functions. It is at once both a crown of Jewish religiosity and a sign of piety and humility; crowning glory and humble servitude.

It is a mark upon the Jew, one that identifies him as an adherent of his faith. Even more significantly, this simple head covering reminds him of his place in the universe.

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran is an educator, author and lecturer. He can be reached at e1948s@aol.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Yarmulke: Crown Of Honor, Sign Of Humility”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Feiglin - Ani Yehudi
Moshe Feiglin Drops Out of Likud PM Race
Latest Indepth Stories

No one would deny that the program subjected detainees to less than pleasant treatment, but the salient point is, for what purpose?

For the past six years President Obama has consistently deplored all Palestinian efforts to end-run negotiations in search of a UN-imposed agreement on Israel.

Joseph Berger 
(Photo: James Estrin)

It’s not an admiration. It is simply a kind of journalist fascination. It stands out, it’s different from more traditional Orthodoxy.

For Am Yisrael, the sun’s movements are subservient to the purpose of our existence.

Israelis now know Arab terrorism isn’t caused by Israeli occupation but by ending Israeli occupation

Anti-Semitism is a social toxin that destroys the things that people most cherish and enjoy.

Amb. Cooper highlighted the impact of the Chanukah/Maccabee spirit on America’s Founding Fathers

Zealousness has its place and time in Judaism; Thank G-d for heroic actions of the Maccabees!

Israel and the strengthening of the Jewish people in faith and numbers has brought a growing light

“Can you hear what the dead are whispering? Leave Galut, escape to Eretz Israel-Lech lecha!”

3 main messages emerged from this conference: Communications, Community, and Collaboration.

In his short time with the shul, he has managed to activate a Hebrew school with now over 50 children and five teachers.

Recent headlines show escalation of the same attitudes and actions as existed during the Holocaust

The Mid-East conflict is a unidirectional campaign of Arabs murdering Jews, not the inverse.

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Jacob Talking with Laban

It is difficult to remain faithful in galut, the ultimate Rorschach test for all Jewish generations

800px-Israel_Hebron_Cave_of_the_Patriarchs

Racheli Frankel: “I didn’t think they were thrown just anywhere. The tears of Hebron embraced them”

Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

What defines kana’ut these days? Throwing rocks at passing cars on Shabbos? Burning an Israeli flag on Yom Ha’Atzmaut?

One who may leave his wife an agunah is not included in the general rule that we may not imprison on Shabbos.

“Fulfill my requests for good, grant my request, be mindful of us for deliverance and compassion…remember us for a good, long life…give us bread to eat, clothes to wear…”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-yarmulke-crown-of-honor-sign-of-humility/2011/05/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: