web analytics
May 29, 2015 / 11 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Yarmulke: Crown Of Honor, Sign Of Humility


The headdress (migbatt) of the kohanim is to be “for glory and beauty.” In fact, the headgear itself bore the name pe’er (beauty). Such a headdress raises a man. Likewise, a man with an uncovered head is like one in rags and half-dressed, and is accordingly forbidden to recite the Shema, to offici­ate as reader, to read aloud from the Torah, or to recite the name of God with due dignity.

The Midrash contrasts the attitude of Moshe in hiding his face before the Shechinah at the burning bush with that of Nadab and Abihu, who looked on with uncovered heads; the one showing reverence and awe, the others, insolence.

Halacha has therefore consistently equated bareheadness with light-mindedness and frivolity, and hence forbids it. Rabbi Joshua ben Levi taught that “a man ought not to walk four cubits in an erect position, which suggests overbearing pride, ignoring God’s omnipresence.” Rav Huna, the son of Joshua, refused to take so much as a single step without having his head covered, for he said that “The Shechinah is above my head.”

Going with one’s head uncovered is considered k’chukos hagoyim, the ways of the nations. By covering our heads, we are distinctly identified as Jews.The yarmulkeis not merely an article of identification, it is a statement of Jewish piety, demonstrating awareness that we stand beneath something so much greater than ourselves, greater than our intellect, our creativity and even our desire.

The yarmulke symbolizes our humility in the presence of God. The yarmulke reminds us of our ongoing and ever-present duties and responsibilities, and of the significance of individual actions and words.

* * * Each morning we recite, “Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who crowns Israel with Glory”in recognition of the glory and pride associated with being a Jew.

An examination of the many berachot recited by the Jew each morning reveals that in only two of the blessings is Israel mentioned specifi­cally by name – Ozer Yisrael b’gvurah (Who girds Israel with strength) and Oter Yisrael b’tifarah (Who crowns Israel with glory.)

Belt and headgear: both have significance for the Jewish people. To the non-Jew, the belt is worn for both comfort and power. To the Jew, it has a deeper significance that speaks to our attachment to God and our deep moral strength. Similarly, non-Jews cover their heads to protect themselves from the elements. Jews cover their heads because of yirat Shamayim.

The belt divides the upper half of the body – the source of the spiritual and intellectual faculties – from the lower – the regions for performing physical and sensual functions. We wear a belt “that the heart should not see the nakedness of the organs of sensuality.” A belt prevents impure thoughts from entering the mind. The precept to wear a belt serves to strengthen our control over our sensual desires. So we thank God for the strength with which He guides Israel. Such strength, gevurah, is strength that comes from self-control.

This notion of subordinating our sensual nature to our intellectual or spiritual nature finds its greatest expression in the covering of the head. “To crown” expresses the honor that comes with such head covering. “Thou shalt be a crown of honor in the hand of God” (Isaiah 3:3).

The yarmulke, in one simple piece of cloth, reminds us constantly of the essential beauty and duality of our lives; to wear our glory humbly before God.

Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran, serves as OU Kosher’s vice president of communications and marketing.

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.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Israel Envisions Regional Cooperation with Arab Nations
Latest Indepth Stories

As for the president’s new, softer tone vis-à-vis Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel, this is most likely being driven by the results of the recent Israeli election.

What especially appeals to us is his grand – some critics would say extravagant –view of what the borders of Israel should look like.

There was something else of great importance in play – something we would have liked to see him take into account before deciding to stand with the boycotters.

Front-Page-052915

The establishment of Hebrew University was a cause much beloved to Einstein who in 1923, during what would be his only trip to Eretz Yisrael, delivered the university’s inaugural lecture on Har Hatzofim (Mt. Scopus) and, discussing the theory of relativity, spoke the first few sentences of his address in Hebrew.

The Golden Square wanted Germany to destroy the British and Jewish presence in their country. The Third Reich craved what was beneath the ground – oil.

Ida Nudel’s account of how the Soviet’s persecuted and punished her was far worse than imagined

Swim4Sadna is an annual event benefiting Sadna, an integrative special-ed community in Gush Etzion

Prof. Wistrich, was THE foremost historian of anti-Semitism; committed spokesman & advocate of Jewry

Jewish Voices for Peace’s 2015 Haggadah is a blatant anti-Israel screed crying, “L’chayim to BDS!”

On his shloshim, I want to discuss a term I’ve heard countless times about Rav Aharon: Gedol HaDor

After obsequious claims of devotion to Israel, Obama took to criticizing Israel on peace process

Mr. Obama, Israeli voters have democratically chosen to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea&Samaria

Netanyahu so disdains Shaked’s appointment he completely ignored her after the swearing-in ceremony

Ronen Shamir’s just the latest tenured Leftist convicted of sexual misconduct with his own student

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

Lag B’Omer became the “Scholar’s Festival” reminding all that derech eretz kadmah l’Torah-

Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

The only way to become humble is honesty about our experiences; it’s the only path to true humility

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Jews cover the head not as ID but because wearing it makes concrete to ourselves our devotion to God

It’s easier to take Jews out of galus than to take galus out of Jews – Chassidic master

What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.

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

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

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: