Re: Men's head covering

Lewis Reich (lbr@sprynet.com)
Wed, 27 Nov 1996 22:59:13 +0000

Regarding the request for sources, According to the Encyclopedia Judaica
(8:1):

In Talmudic times, covering the head was a sign iof mourning (bar Kappara
covering his head after the death of Yehudah ha-Nasi (TJ Kil 9:4, 32b; TJ
Ket 12:3, 35a). Mourners, those under a herem, and lepers were obliged to
cover their heads (MK 15a), as was anyone who fasted in a time of drought
(Ta'an 14b). The headcovering of talmidei chachamim was an indication of
tbeir elevated position (Pes. 11b); some claimed they never walked more
than daled amos without a head covering (Shab. 118b; Kid 31a). Rambam, in
the Mishne Torah, indicates too that head covering was a minhag of talmidei
chachamim (De'ot 5:6). The custom appears to have been restricted to
dignified personages; bachelors observing it were considered presumptuous
(Kid. 29b). Ned. 30b indicates that it was optional and a matter of custom
for men to cover their heads. Apparently French and Spanish poskim during
the middle ages regarded the covering of the head during prayer and the
study of the Torah merely as a custom, and some may have even prayed with a
bare head themselves. Even those who took a stricter view stated that it
was merely a worthy custom and that there was no injunction against praying
without a head covering (Maharal Resp. no. 7 ; Be'ur ha'Gra to sh. Ar. OH
8:2).

Lewis Reich
(413) 567-9460 Fax: (413) 565-2507
LBR@sprynet.com