The Jerusalem Council

A Global Association of Orthodox Jewish Believers in Messiah Yeshua

Head Coverings

According to the Torah, is a man commanded to wear a kippah or other head covering? Is a woman commanded to wear a head covering?If we are to be ready to “guard” the commandments of G-d, then yes, wearing a head covering is part of fulfilling that mitzvah to be on guard to do G-d’s commandments concerning head coverings.

As it is written:

Deuteronomy 27:1
And Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying: ‘Keep all the commandment which I command you this day.

Keep” is the Hebrew word “Shamar” which means to “guard” or “hedge around” as if to protect what is inside.

In this, the Torah teaches us that we are to create a hedge to always be ready to do G-d’s commandments.

Leviticus 13:45
“As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered

Numbers 5:18
And the priest shall set the woman before the LORD, and uncover the woman’s head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering; and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse.

Here we have two scriptures detailing a clear positive commandment to remove the head covering of a man, and the head covering of a woman for specific cases.

Point: Notice the Torah assumes there is a head covering being worn, and does not say “if there is a head covering, then remove it.”

If we are to guard G-d’s commandments and be ready to do them, then it follows that if one is instructed here to remove a head covering already assumed to be worn, and this is not a conditional but rather an instructive commandment, then the Torah therefore assumes that we are wearing a head covering! In fact, it not only assumes this, but assumes that we wearing one at all other times, than in these specific cases mentioned here.

It can and should be asked, that if we are commanded to guard G-d’s commandments, and be ready to do them, then how can we obey the mitzvah to remove our head covering when we aren’t wearing one? Thus if the Torah expects us to have our head covering removed when meeting these conditions for their removal, then wearing a head covering is thus commanded as part of guarding” G-d’s commandments!

The next question one may ask is what kind of head covering? Any head covering that meets the Torah’s other requirements for clothing should suffice; such as not wearing a covering identified as one of the opposite sex (cross dressing), or weaving wool and linen together (that is reserved for the High Priest!). This means a man can wear a turban, hat, kippah, or tallit; and women can wear a hat, snood, or woman’s tallit in addition to other coverings thus designed for the purpose of covering the head in fulfillment of this mitzvah.

In short,

Wearing a head covering, according to the Torah then, is truly a sign of submission to G-d. By wearing one, one essentially proclaims that they are intending to guard G-d’s commandments. Thus you will find that by wearing one, more so than just tzitzit (since tzitzit and their purpose are not easily recognizable by the nations of the diaspora), that you will be held to a higher standard by others, for you wear upon you then a very obvious symbol of submission to HaShem and his ways. From a midrash it can even be drawn that wearing one is a sign of submission to our husband, who is HaShem – the Messiah, in that we intend to guard his commandments. And if you are female, then by implication (and this is where the Apostle gets it from) that it is also a sign of submission to your earthly husband as well – another mitzvah in itself.

Thoughts?

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22 Responses to “Head Coverings”

  • I’ve heard that turning assumptions into Law can taking things to places they were never meant to go.

    In what I have studied, the purpose for head coverings in Biblical times and even today were for cultural reasons and they were a sign of wealth or being a shameful slave.

    In the east, particularly. Lice and other vermin were rampant. If a person got it – they had to shave their head and it was considered a shame. That happened most often in the lower class people because they worked with animals or in the fields all day.They wore cloth head coverings which cut that done somewhat but those that where poor or unkempt seemed to get it more often.

    The very wealthy would never sink so low was to look like a worker – least of all one with lice that would be a Shame- so they shaved their heads but covered them with wigs and expensive coverings so no one would know.

    The cloth head coverings then also became a sign of a very poor, unkempt slave and to be strictly avoided.

    Now if you are wearing one to avoid lice and massive amounts of dirt or to keep your hair out of food because of where you work then by all means do so.

    But if you are doing it for any other reason… better check your heart because you can be sure that G-d will. “Man looks on the outer appearance but G-d looks upon the heart.”

  • Israel says:

    I would think the better assumption would be one from the Torah, rather than one’s own historical theory, in seeking the true answer to this halachic question of whether or not head coverings are required.

    Granted your historical theory may be correct, but the Torah doesn’t give any such hint that your theory is what it is referring to, when the narrative instead implies (rather than assume, you are correct it probably is a bad choice of words) that one has their head covered in order to obey the command to uncover one’s head. Obviously we are commanded explicitly to prepare to keep G-d’s commandments. It only follows logically that one would therefore be required to prepare to keep the commandments regarding uncovering one’s head, by wearing a head covering.

  • Talmid of Yeshua says:

    The word yarmulke means to stand in awe of G-d. A man’s headcovering is an external reminder for him to be constantly devoted and in awe of the Lord. Also, the kohanim, the priests, wore headcoverings and were not allowed to stand in the presence of G-d with bare head. We are a priestly people, says Peter, therefore, headcoveirng is part of our mandate, mission and calling in the world. And it is also the means by which the world will know we observe Torah- it is a characteristic element of Jewish life and observance- why be smug and find another way to distance yourselves?

  • I have no intention of distancing myself from the Adonai or the Torah. I have a problem with people who do things for the wrong reason. Where is it written in the Torah that a head covering out side of the temple is to worn as a sign of devotion and awe of G-d?

    What I have read in the Torah was all clothing (including the head coverings) that was Holy and set apart for work in the temple was never to leave the temple and only to be worn in the temple.

    Again I have no trouble with a person wearing a head covering, I have trouble with saying it is the Law (even by assumption) to do so.

    Why am I splitting hairs? Because I have seen messianics who say they are wearing them for one reason but in reality they wear it to brag about their Jewish roots. It really defeats the whole purpose!
    They are like the ones that Yeshua spoke of who had a bad habit of wearing their zit-zits really long to to show off. I have seen a few of those too!

    It is how I feel of all of the Law and the Torah- if you are going to do it- don’t do so “just because its the Law.” Do so out of the real love of you have for Adonai any other reason is sinful.

    If Adonai doesn’t want heartless lip-service when you pray – you can bet he doesn’t want Hat-service when you wear a head-covering either!

    • Israel says:

      Even if historically having one’s head covered wasn’t done outside of the synagogue or Temple, it is said that the kippah is such a universal symbol of being a Jew in this generation, that one who claims to be of Messiah, would commit a chillul HaShem (desecration of The Name) if one doesn’t wear one when others would expect him to.

      Contrary to some objections, it is not a transgression of Torah to wear a kippah. So then what objection remains as the reason to not wear one? Rebellion.

      Wearing a kippah is part of guarding HaShem’s commandment to be ready to uncover one’s head – even if that was only done at the Temple. Guarding that commandment by wearing a kippah, is a command we can do now, even though we can’t do the command we are guarding. Our response to this question of whether or not to wear a kippah, should be that we should love G-d as much as we can. Our heart should not be wondering how much we can get away with not doing. The first response is from a heart of submission, the other response is from a heart of rebellion. Examine yourself. Even if others wear talliyot that are long, or kippah that are large to be recognized by others, or tefillin that is broad, or one keeps any of HaShem’s commandments for the wrong reason, their disobedience should not be an excuse for us to be disobedient.

      We should encourage everyone to quit examining their brother’s obedience especially if when one has their own obedience issues to work on. Something about a plank in one’s eye, the Messiah said one has, if I remember. ;) Let’s focus on ourselves being obedient. Let’s examine our hearts, and see if we are walking rebellion and hatred for other’s disobedience, or if we are walking in submission and love for our Master who himself is obedient for our sake.

      Yet, as with all of HaShem’s commandments, it is far better to do a commandment of HaShem, even if for the wrong reason (if that’s possible), than to not obey him at all. Just as it is far better to not murder someone, but for the wrong reason than just to preserve their life, so too it is better to wear a kippah, even if you’re only doing it to get acclamations from men.

  • Quote: it is said that the kippah is such a universal symbol of being a Jew in this generation, that one who claims to be of Messiah, would commit a chillul HaShem (desecration of The Name) if one doesn’t wear one when others would expect him to.

    It is said? That is man’s word not G-ds!

    Quote:Contrary to some objections, it is not a transgression of Torah to wear a kippah. So then what objection remains as the reason to not wear one? Rebellion.

    Just because it says nothing bad about wearing a kippah dosn’t not mean its rebellion if you do not! If it was a rebellion not to wear one the the Torah would have been very plain about it to begin with just as it has with every other rebellion!

    And just because it’s Jewish tradition does not automatically make it G-d’s Law!

    Quote: so too it is better to wear a kippah, even if you’re only doing it to get acclamations from men.

    That is the most shameful thing I think I have ever read!

    If you are not wearing a Kippah because you love Adonai then you have no business wearing it at all! Because you will make a mockery of all those who do it for the right reasons!

    • Israel says:

      It is said? That is man’s word not G-ds!

      On the contrary. It is written that one should guard HaShem’s commandments. Wearing a kippah is such a guard. Thus when one expects one to keep such a guard, but does not, by definition the one not keeping that guard then commits a chillul HaShem. Now, if you say you don’t wear one at all, and people don’t expect you to, well then, there’s no chillul HaShem by that definition. However, wearing a head covering is a guard for the commandment concerning removing your head covering, and if you say you are of HaShem, and those who are of HaShem are wearing such as a fence for that command, then your responsibility is to both G-d and men for the choice you make.

      just because it’s Jewish tradition does not automatically make it G-d’s Law!

      Actually, if all Israel, how much more so you. You are not commanded to separate yourself from Israel. Also you are to obey the judges in our day. Also, you are commanded to be holy (separated unto HaShem). Also you are commanded to guard HaShem’ Torah. In this regard, wearing a kippah is as important as love the LORD your G-d for it does all these things: identifies you with Israel, unites you to Israel, shows your submission to HaShem and to the judges, separates you unto HaShem, and enables you to guard the commandment to remove your head covering. Now, your premise that Jewish tradition doesn’t make it HaShem’s Torah forgets that “Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.” I ask you, is this an explicit command, or a tradition, or both?

      If you are not wearing a Kippah because you love Adonai then you have no business wearing it at all! Because you will make a mockery of all those who do it for the right reasons!

      I agree that one would bring about a chillul HaShem if one wears a kippah, but does not do the things of HaShem. Now let’s reverse that situation, and you have my argument for you on this matter: if one claims to be of HaShem, but does not do the things the people of HaShem do, then one commits a chillul HaShem – because then one will have made a mockery of all those who wear a kippah.

  • Quote: On the contrary. It is written that one should guard HaShem’s commandments.

    In the KIV version of the Bible the word “Guard” is mentioned 46 times and each time it has to do with a person or group of persons being a guard- as in a King’s guard.

    It says we are to OBEY His commandments and I have no trouble with that – I have a real problem with those who, for what ever good reason, have ADDED to His word by simply calling it a “guard.” and seeing it in the same light as His Law.

    Ha Shem is very clear about adding too and taking away from His Word. That is the whole reason Yesuah got so angry at the Pharisees… because they put so many guards on the people.

    And just for the record- I follow HaShem and His Torah.

    In short- if you want to wear a head covering because you Love Adonai then by all means go for it! If you want to wear one because it makes you feel tied to Jewish Brothers, as pointless as it seems, go for it.

    BUT Do Not call it a Law because it is Not A Law! And I fully believe that Adonai will call you to account for it someday… even more so if you are teaching it as a Law or to be followed in the same light as a Law, to someone else! That is Adding to His Word!

    • In the Hebrew, the word to guard – shamar, means to fence about. Your KJV translates it as “keep.”

      Word: shaw-mar’
      Strong: H8104
      Transliter: shamar
      a primitive root; properly, to hedge about (as with thorns), i.e. guard; generally, to protect, attend to, etc.:–beward, be circumspect, take heed (to self), keep(-er, self), mark, look narrowly, observe, preserve, regard, reserve, save (self), sure, (that lay) wait (for), watch(-man).

      Exodus 15:26 and He said: ‘If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy G-d, and wilt do that which is right in His eyes, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon thee, which I have put upon the Egyptians; for I am the LORD that healeth thee.’

      To wear a head covering to guard the commandments of tzarat and sotah, is just as much as a command of Torah as the commandments of tzarat and sotah.

  • Are you actually saying that Anything that even alludes to a possible statue must be kept as a Law?

    If what you say is true…
    Then please explain to me why Yesuah was so angry at the Pharisees for laying heavy burdens on the people when they were doing this same thing.

    Please, explain to me where do you draw the line on this? How far is too far?
    Better yet show me where in the Word it teaches where to draw the line on this sort of thing.

    Please keep in mind, I have said I have no trouble with keeping the Torah, I just have trouble with people taking things out of context, calling a tradition of man a Law simply because it is alluded to in the Word.

  • I understand your heart, but really, a Western mindset demands a “thou shalt.”

    It is written:

    Leviticus 18:22
    Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.

    Clearly it is written that a man should not lie with another man. But where is there a prohibition stating a woman is not to lie down with a woman as with a man? There is no such “thou shalt not.” One can say lesbianism is prohibited based only on an inference from Torah prohibiting a man from laying with another man as with a woman.

    So much of what Westerners think is Torah, is really only the tip of the iceberg. Every thought, nuance, phrase, etc, in the Torah, is divinely inspired. The Torah is meant to be taken as a whole, and in its most minute detail – all at once. We miss out so much when we only look for the “thou shalt.”

    If you want to know what the burden was that was heavy, why assume what it is? Go ask the Torah. Look for the word “burden” or read the article “The Yoke and Burden of Messiah, and Moses.”

    Contrary to popular opinion, the “yoke” that neither we nor our “fathers” could bear refers not to halacha itself (that is, the way of walking out the Torah), but rather is the responsibility for deciding and learning and knowing halacha for oneself, and learning and teaching the Torah for oneself…alone, as an outsider, with no one to help you.

    How far is too far in obeying G-d? There isn’t such a thing.

    Shalom.

  • I agree with you, it is never too far in obeying G-d – only in taking His Word out of context to make a point. Which was my point.

    You can make the Bible say there is no G-d because in Psalms it says, “the fool has said in his heart there is no G-d” Half the verse doesn’t always make the minute detail correct.

    Romans 1 Does cover women laying with other women as being sinful. And I’ve always wondered why Adonai did not mention that in the Torah since he covered everything else in such detail.

    Quote: “Contrary to popular opinion, the “yoke” that neither we nor our “fathers” could bear refers not to halacha itself (that is, the way of walking out the Torah), but rather is the responsibility for deciding and learning and knowing halacha for oneself, and learning and teaching the Torah for oneself…alone, as an outsider, with no one to help you.”

    That (quoted above) I did not know that. Thank you!

    Now you know why I’m a bit nuts about context. I’ve heard too many sermons with scripture taken out of context! If I had a nickle for… I’d be very rich by now lol!

    I’m a difficult student for you I’m afraid. I have deep passion for the Lord but I have been burnt in a few places of worship before. So I tend to push a point sometimes. I apologize if I have come off as rather harsh.

    Thank you for taking the time to work this out with me!
    Shalom.

    • I agree with you too. One should be careful so as not to contradict HaShem’s Torah.

      This conversation has been a pleasure – hopefully you’ll find me a humble and patient teacher, who learns far more from my students, than my students probably will from me. I am not above changing any deeply held stance, provided the truth is evident. My heart, like yours, and others who visit here, is for teshuvah for the Master’s glory.

      If you have any other questions, let me know – I’ll may dread giving you my opinion (there’s a lot of responsibility with posting on this site), but I will try at least to be honest with what I (and others around here) know and share that with you.

      I look forward to anything else you may add to these articles from your insight and experience. We aim to build this site organically to address common objections to teshuvah in many areas, and responses like yours serve to give us a direction as to what to address next – and as we do so, and as we are challenged, it causes both us and our readership to mature in the process. Shalom! :)

  • Thank you so much! You have been very helpful!

    I do have a question but I’m not sure where to post it.
    In Matthew 21:19 Yesuah curses a fig tree for not bearing fruit- even though the tree was in season to bear fruit.

    I’m missing something- why would he do this?

  • That was interesting thank you!

  • Avraham says:

    Although Israel states this as a hedge the acctual meaning of these two verses is are in fact separate issues which involve a specific commandment.

    Leviticus 13:45
    “As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered” The acctual word uses here does not actually mean to uncover rather “Para” (Peh-Resh-Ayin) means:to make free with out restriction of conflicting movement. Here its ment as a euphamism for making ones head bald. Were as in Numbers 5:18 which states “And the priest shall set the woman before the LORD, and uncover the woman’s head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering; and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse.” Were here there same verb “Para” is being used in referance to the womans hair is to be made to flow freely in movement as to express that her head is to be uncovered in order to allow her hair to move about as a sign of her rebellion in which she has acted like one who has no husband in which we are told in Gen 24:75 that once a married woman is in the presence of men she must cover her head in order to obey the commandment of covering ones head. As for men no such commandment is given outside the issue of the cohenim who service is only required as such upon their serving in the Temple.

    • That “Para” is also related to the first use in the Torah where it describes Pharaoh, I think the link is obvious – the Torah is teaching us that one who is uncovered is one who identifies with Pharaoh, and that what the Shulchan Aruch thinks is a rabbinic, is actually Torah.

  • Avraham says:

    I would also advise any referance to the issues of wearing a Kippah to see the Shulchan Aruch which states its not a mitzvah or biblical commandment but rather its is a custom in which is regarded as a honor. Therefore, for any who seek to place any biblical status on it must understand its not even a biblical issue of M’derisa but rather is a Rabbinic requirement.

  • R. Bobavich says:

    While I hold to the arguments addressed I have to admit that they are not yet presented strongly. Often that way that what seems not to be surface is in fact Torah. The Shulchan Aruch could have erred. However I’ve not seen any source that places this observance older that Talmud Baveli.

    I was told of a story in Baveli of a Rebbe who eats another man’s fruit without realizing it. When confronted he quips that he didn’t have a covering on his head to remind of Heaven…

    NOTE: I do not have the exact reference for this or the circumstances surrounding it.

    It’s something to look at as this would put the tradition back to Baveli. Whether it goes back further is something for which we’d need to consult the historians. I don’t know of any previous references but they could exist. If a kippah is Torah and not merely ordinance we should be able to support by historic observation as well…

    Did the Master cover His head and teach others to do likewise…? Haven’t found proof on either side yet. This is not a scholarly opinion yet. If it is as much of an issue as you suggest we should be able to find proof from the earlier times. If the custom was common and predated Yeshua then we can accept this opinion. If it is not we have to hold to the majority opinion that a kipah is ordinance rather than commandment.

    THIS NEEDS MORE RESEARCH.

    …Rods ;-)

  • Rick says:

    Rather curious about this whole thing concerning head coverings. I am a person of Gentile heritage, who neither considers himself Jew or Gentile after the teaching that we are of one new body. However, I do desire to go to the roots of Christianity and start from there, which I have been studying and practicing a little at a time.

    When in a church I don’t wear a hat, as it would be unseemly, and considered out of place. In a Messianic Jewish synagogue that would be no problem with me, as concerning “fitting in”. I have done some research on the subject and consider today’s cultural practices in Western society. I have no problem with not wearing a hat, and practicing G-d’s presence doesn’t require a hat or any other covering for a man, (though if a personal conviction has someone else do that kind of thing, I have no problem with it).

    Now, in light of the fact that I am of Gentile heritage, how would one comport themselves with non Jewish, in order to reach non Jewish people, present day? Furthermore, how would one who is of Gentile heritage reach out toward those of Jewish heritage?

  • A “Gentile” can’t reach out to an orthodox “Jew,” for the orthodox Jew already believes they are “in” while the Gentile is “out.” To the orthodox Jew, your question would be confusing. Why would he ever be enticed to consider joining something that he already considers “outside” of Torah and Judaism? Why follow a messiah that a Gentile preaches if the Gentile himself while claiming to be a disciple of said messiah, doesn’t have a heart to keep Torah, and shows no interest in joining G-d’s people and keep more Torah? According to Deuteronomy 13, such a messiah preached by the Gentile would be a false prophet, and the orthodox Jew can reject such for just cause. Since one can’t use their interpretation and understanding of the writings of the Apostles to convince an orthodox Jew to become a believer, what remains? Ultimately only the Torah remains, and thus the “Gentile” believer is forced to know Torah in order to preach Messiah to the orthodox. Yet to the Jew, if the Gentile doesn’t know the Torah, why bother to listen to him? Doesn’t the Gentile, who claims to follow the Jewish Messiah even know the foundation upon which he claims his faith stands? After all, if a Gentile knows Torah, it is surmised, aren’t they in the least bit enticed and led to keep it – and thus become part of the choosen People, the Elect of G-d, the Jewish Nation, a Jew in full imitation of a Jewish Messiah? After all, in the mind of a Jew, a “disciple” is one who imitates their rabbi fully. How can a Gentile do this if he remains Gentile? So no, a Gentile can not reach out to an orthodox Jew, any more than a Mormon can reach out to a strict Christian apologist. The concept is anathema to everything the Jew knows, stands for, believes, and follows, the Torah being the foundation and boundary for what he believes or will ever accept.