Project Genesis

Men’s head covering

Please explain what is behind men wearing kippot (“yarmulkas” or skullcaps). Do Orthodox men wear them at all times? Do they remove them for sleep? Thank you!

Orthodox men do wear them all day long (except when swimming, showering, or bathing as you might imagine)—many do wear one to bed, but they don’t really stay put.

There is a tradition that the Yiddish word “yarmulke” comes from the Aramaic Yoreh Malkah, fear of the King. It is not strictly Jewish Law to have the head covered except when saying a blessing, praying or learning, but the Talmud says that one sign of the greatness of a particular Sage was that he never went four paces with his head uncovered.

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