web analytics
October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israel's Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations David Roet, at a UNSC meeting held July 22, 2014 regarding the Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflict.
Israel Attempts to Insert Reason into UN Debate About Middle East
Latest Indepth Stories
Noah and his Family; mixed media collage by Nathan Hilu. Courtesy Hebrew Union College Museum

Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.

Sweden prefers to ignore its own problems and make trouble elsewhere.

The question of anti-Semitism in Europe today is truly tied to the issue of immigration.

256px-Israel-Palestine_flags.svg

Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.

Map of Syria-Turkish border area, pinpointing Kurdish border town of Kobani, just taken by ISIS terror forces Oct 7, 2014.

Turkey and Iran the 2 regional powers surrounding the ISIS conflict gain from a partial ISIS victory

Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.

Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”

Do you seriously think that as you kidnap our children we should medically treat and help yours?

Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.

The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.

Israel offered Syria the entire Golan Heights, only to find that the Syrians were demanding MORE!

Israeli hasbara too can be described at best as pathetic, at worst non existent.

A ‘good news’ story from the Nepal avalanche disaster to warm your heart. Take out your Kleenex.

Journalists see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as morality play: Israel=evil; Palestine=innocent

Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.

While police officers face dangers every day on the job, Jews also face danger in their daily lives.

Carter developed a fondness for Arafat believing “they were both ordained to be peacemakers by God”

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Jonah and the Whale (2012) 23 x 23, bronze relief by Lynda Caspe.

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

Eisenstock-082914

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…”

Too often, as parents and teachers, we think it means talking at our children, delivering to them good and worthy content that they should simply hear and assimilate into their minds and hearts.

I was singing, dancing, jumping and, sweating. Just joy and happiness. One child on my shoulders after another. What happiness! And then, the little boy on my shoulders – he could not have been older than six – began to cry.

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: