Project Genesis

Women's Issues

Women and Prayer

Yarmulkas for Women

Why don’t women wear a Kippa ( Yarmulka or skull-cap)?

I am not aware of any sources that discuss this issue, but I can give a few possible suggestions. First of all, the famous Jewish philosopher Maharal, Rabbi Yehuda Lowey, writes that the reason that women were given fewer mitzvos than men is because women are more spiritually inclined, and therefore need fewer mitzvos to connect to G-d. Similarly, the reason for donning a kipa is to remind us that we are under G-d’s supervision (as the Yiddish ‘yarmulka’, a combination of the words “Yarei Malka”, “fear of the King”, imply), and women do not need the constant reminder that men do.

Secondly, it is quite possible that during the period of time when it became the custom for all Jewish men to wear kippot, wearing a head covering was only considered a respectful gesture for men (similar to the long standing custom to put on or take off one’s hat in a holy place, which only applied to men). The truth is probably a combination of these factors.

Yochai Robkin
Project Genesis

1 Follow-up »

  1. If a woman has to speak in the synagogue is there a particular manner in which she should be dressed? Of course the Ark is closed at this time.

    I think we all really know the answer to that question, at least deep down in our hearts (it sounds like you know it consciously as well). Everyone understands a person must dress appropriately for their environment. A chapel/synagogue, housing a Torah Scroll, is a place where Jewish people from all different backgrounds gather together to sanctify G-d’s Name, demonstrating unity amongst Jews as we unite with our Creator. The way we present ourselves before the Divine in the building erected just for that purpose is, of course, significant.

    The Jewish standard for fashion and taste in clothing is “Tzniut”, which basically means letting the world focus on our characters and personalities and judge us based on these most unique and essential criterion. Especially in a synagogue, where our primary purpose in congregating is to relate to that which lies beneath the surface of reality and to that part of us (our souls) which is hidden, modesty in dress is essential.

    Practically, Tzniut includes skirts which cover the knees and a neckline which is just that – one which reveals only the neck, but not the collar bone or below (which is part of the torso).

    Wishing you all the best,
    Shlomo Shulman

    Comment by ATR — July 5, 2006 @ 10:28 am

We respond to every follow-up question submitted, but only publish selected ones. In order to be considered for publication, questions must be on-topic, polite, and address ideas rather than personalities.


Powered by WordPress