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Origin of Kippah and Tallit

Head Covering and Prayer Shawl of The Jew



yarmulke (Yiddish) or Kippah (Hebrew) is a small cloth cap worn by Jews.
Traditionally it was worn only by men, but in modern times the push for equality between the sexes in the practice of Judaism has led some women to wear yarmulkes. Some Jews only wear yarmulkes while praying; others wear yarmulkes the entire day, making sure not to walk more than four cubitswithout head covering (especially outside). The basis for wearing a head covering is a story in the Talmud (tractate Shabbat).

Often, the color and fabric of the yarmulke can be a sign of adherence to a specific religious movement. The Israeli Religious Zionist community is often referred to by the name kipot srugot, literally “woven yarmulkes”. Similarly, some Haredi sects.

The etymology of yarmulke is unclear. Some linguists (e.g. Max Vasmer) maintain that
the Yiddish word is derived (via Ukrainian or Polish) from the Turkic ya?murluk, meaning ‘rainwear’. Other linguists (e.g. Herbert Zeiden) regard this hypothesis as untenable but still believe a Turkic origin is likely, suggesting that the first part of the word may come from yarim, a Turkic adjective meaning ‘half’, while the second part may come from qap, a Turkic word for ‘cap’, ‘shell’, ‘enclosure’, or ‘container’.

Traditionally, yarmulke is considered to have originated from the Aramaic phrase “yarei mei-elokah” (in awe of the Lord), in keeping with the principle that the yarmulke is supposed to reflect someone’s fear of heaven. Or perhaps, “yira malkah” (fear of the King).

In Hebrew language, the word “Kippah” means dome.

Why do Jews wear Kippah?

Rabbi Shay Piron from “Kipa (” website answers:
The source of weaing Kippah or any other head-cover is found in the Gemara in Masechet Kidushin. There it is writen that wearing Kipa is a virtue of piety. That way, a person expresses that “God (Shekhina) dwells above my head”.

In days where self-satisfaction takes so much prominence, and the emphasis on the “me” gets out of proportion, we need to remember what is above us.

Though, the 19th in sign 8 of responsa bring the single opinion that wearing Kipa is “deoreyata”, but it is not the opinion of the majority of the poskim Rabbis (arbiters).

The arbiters of our generation, and it is recommended to see and study Rabbi Ovadia Yosef answers in the responsa book “Yechavei Da’ath”, added another layer to the weaing of Kipa. Today, the Kipa is a symbol of a religious man. It has an expression of belonging, of identifying (with Judaism), as well as an expression for accepting the burden of Mitzvot derived from the fact that we are adherent to the Torah and its commandments.

And if you say: why give so much weight to symbols?

Behold, in the days of my life I saw that unimportant symbols, are symbols that no one identifies with. For some reason, I never met a paratrooper who gives up on his red boots, or the pilot who give up wearing “Flight wings” or the professor who will omit his title. All of these symbols earned their status, from the power of the great investment, effort and perspiration that people spent to achieve them.

The Kipa is a major factor in the joining of the indivdual ( yachid ) into the collective ( yachad ), into the religious public. Not only piety there is in the Kipa, but also an element of “unit’s pride” and belonging that helps the individual to travel in the path of a wandering world, who seek its way and indentity.

Need to be noted, that this answer doesn’t relate to the question of wearing Kipa during ritual blessings, prayers and study of Torah.

(orginal Hebrew text)



Tallit (täl?t) , in Judaism, four-cornered, fringed shawl worn by males during the morning prayers. It is donned before putting on the phylacteries, except on Yom Kippur when it is worn all through the day (phylacteries are not worn on this day). The tallit is usually made of white wool, cotton, or silk, and often has blue or black stripes on the ends and an ornamental strip worn near the neck. Woven into the white garment is a blue fringe (tzitzit), worn in fulfillment of the biblical commandment (Num. 15.37–41). To be distinguished from this tallit, known as the Tallit Gadol [large tallit], is the Tallit Katan [small tallit], which is worn under the outer garments throughout the day. This practice is less widely observed.


Tallit (or tallet) in Hebrew, or Tallis in Yiddish, is a prayer shawl “cloak” that is worn during the morning Jewish services (the Shacharit prayers) in Judaism. It has special twined and knotted “fringes” known as tzitzit of about six inches attached to its four corners. The tallit is sometimes also referred to as the arba kanfot, meaning the‘four corners’.

According to classical Rabbinic Judaism only boys and men are required to wear it at various points of their lives as Jews, and many regard it as compulsory. This is still practiced by Orthodox Judaism. Historically, women have been either permitted (mainly Sephardi and western Ashkenazi rishonim), seen as obligated (mainly Karaim), or
forbidden (mainly eastern Ashkenazim) to wear it. Many modern, mainly non-Orthodox, groups have allowed women to wear them if they so desire.

Historical origin

The original tallit probably resembled the “‘abayah,” or blanket, worn by the Bedouins for protection from sun and rain, and which has black stripes at the ends. The finer tallit, very likely, was similar in quality to the Roman pallium, and was worn only by distinguished men, rabbis, and scholars (B. B. 98a;Midrash Genesis Rabbah xxxvi.; Midrash Exodus Rabbah xxvii.). The tallit was sometimes worn partly doubled, and sometimes with the ends thrown over the shoulders (Talmud references Shab. 147a; Men. 41a).

Kinds of tallit

There are two kinds of tallit — tallit gadol and tallit katan.

Tallit gadol or tallet gedolah

The tallit gadol or tallet gedola, meaning a “large tallit”, is worn over ones clothing resting on the shoulders. This is the large prayer shawl that is worn during the morning services in synagogue.

Tallit katan or tallet ketannah

The tallit katan or tallet ketannah, meaning “small tallit”, is worn as an under-garment beneath the shirt preferably not touching the body, but worn between a T-shirt (in the UK known as a “vest”) and the actual shirt one is wearing. This is preferably worn at all times according to Orthodox Judaism. The tallit katan is also known as arba kanfot (Yid. arba kanfos) or tzitzit (Yid. tzitzis).

Description of tallit gadol

The tallit gadol, which can be spread out like a sheet, is traditionally woven of wool or
silk, in white, with black, blue or white stripes at the ends. The silk ones vary in size, for men, from about 36 × 54 inches (91 × 137 cm) to 72 × 96 inches (183 × 244 cm). The woolen tallit is proportionately larger (sometimes reaching to the ankle) and is made of two lengths sewed together, the stitching being covered with a narrow silk ribbon. A ribbon, or a band artistically woven with silver or gold threads (called “spania”), with the ends hanging, and about 24 inches (61 cm) long by from 2 to 6 inches (5 to 15 cm) wide, may be sewed on the top of the tallit. This band, which is considered an important part of the tallit in Ashkenazi traditions, but mostly considered of minor importance amongst Sephardim, is known as the atarah, or ‘crown’.

From the four corners of the tallit hang fringes called tzitzit, in compliance with the laws in the Torah(Book of Numbers 15:38).


When putting on a Talit Katan
While holding the Tallit Katan in readiness to put on, the tzitzit are inspected, and the following blessing is recited. The Tallit Katan is then donned; many kiss the tzitzit.

Barukh atah, adonai, eloheinu, melech haolam, asher kiedshanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzievahnu al mitzvot tzitzit

Y’hie rahtzon miel’fanehchah, adonai ehlohay vaylohay ahvotay, sheht’hay khashuvah mitzvot tzitzit lfahnehkhah, k’ielu kieyahm’tieah b’khal prahtehyah v’diek’dukehyah v’khahu’notehyeh, v’tahr’yag mitzvot hat’luyim ba. Amen Selah

Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us regarding the commandment of fringes
May it be the will before you, Lord, my God and the God of my forefathers, that it should be considered the commandment of fringes before You as if I had fulfilled it in all it’s aspects, it’s details and it’s intentions, as well as the 613 commandments that are dependent on it.

So be it, [consider what we have said].


Who wears a tallit

Men: Obligation

The prayer-shawl (No. 1 above) is worn over one’s clothes, and is traditionally worn by Sephardi menfrom early childhood and by the majority of Ashkenazi men only after marriage; although many Ashkenaz criticize this practice as it delays an important mitzvah beyond the time a Bar Mitzvah boy is responsible for it. In some Ashkenazi communities, especially western European Ashkenazim, one accordingly has the practice of all men over 13 wearing the tallit gadol.

Women: Diverse views on obligation/permissibility

Historically, the tallit has mostly been permitted (but not seen as obligated) for use by women (Isaac ibn Ghiyyat (b. 1038), Rashi (1040-1105), Rabbenu Tam (ca 1100-1171), Zerachya ben Yitzhak Halevi of Lunel (ca 1125-1186), Rambam (1135?1204), R. Eliezer ben Yoel Halevi (ca 1140-ca 1225), Rashba (1235?1310), Aharon Halevi of Barcelona (b. ca 1235?), R. Yisrael Yaaqob Alghazi (1680-1761), R. Yomtob ben Yisrael Alghazi (1726-1802)), but with a gradual movement towards prohibition mainly initiated by the Medieval Ashkenazi Rabbi Meir von Rothenburg (the Maharam). Since the 1970s, in non-Orthodox denominations of Judaism it may be worn by women. Amongst Karaim, the mitzvah of tzitzitis viewed as equally binding for men and women, and both sexes therefore generally wear tallitot.

Order of putting on tallit and tefillin

In the Talmudic and post-Talmudic periods the tefillin were worn by rabbis and scholars
all day, and a special tallit was worn at prayer; hence they put on the tefillin before the tallit, as appears in the order given in “Seder Rabbi Amram Gaon” (p. 2a) and in the
Zohar. In later times, when the tefillin came to be worn at morning prayer only, the
tallit was put on first, after a special benediction had been recited.

During prayer

The Kabbalists considered the tallit as a special garment for the service of God, intended, in connection with the tefillin, to inspire awe and reverence for God at prayer (Zohar, Exodus Toledot, p. 141a). The tallit is worn by all male worshipers at the morning prayer on week-days, Shabbat, and holy days; by the hazzan (cantor) at every prayer while before the Ark; and by the reader of Torah.

At weddings

Use by groom

In many Sephardic communities, the groom traditionally wears a tallit under the chuppah (wedding canopy). In Ashkenazi communities, a more widespread custom is that the groom wears a kittel, although many Ashkenazim have in recent years started to wear a tallit according to theSephardiccustom.

As wedding canopy

A tallit is commonly spread out as a canopy at the wedding ceremony. This may be done either instead of or in addition to the regular chuppah.

Fri, June 24 2022 25 Sivan 5782