Kippot, Hats and Head Coverings: A Traditionalist View

How and when a Jew covers his or her head is a spiritual declaration and a nuanced social statement.

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In recent times it has become customary for women to cover their hair with wigs, and this can indeed be seen as fulfilling the requirements of the halakhah. Married women are not, after all, expected to make themselves "ugly." Nevertheless, there have been scholars who have ruled that wigs too must be covered, particularly when they look so natural that they cannot be recognized as head coverings and the women who wear them are not recognizable as married. But this too is a matter of custom and not of definitive halakhah.

Covering the Head as a Spiritual Statement

In Jewish tradition, and even in very old linguistic usage, "an uncovered head" means unbridled license. By the same token, covering the head, be it for prayer and study or at any other time, represents, by general usage at least, the acceptance of Divine sovereignty, of the "yoke of the kingdom of heaven."

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Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz is the author of works bringing traditional Torah scholarship and Hasidic thought to a contemporary audience. He lives in Jerusalem.