Meaning of the Yarmulke (Kippah)
What is a Yarmulke (Kippah)?
A yarmulke (also called a skullcap or by its Hebrew name, kippah) is a small, round head covering worn by Jews during prayer and by some Jews at all times. Though yarmulkes have been worn by men traditionally, more Jewish women are choosing to don specially-designed ladies yarmulkes as an expression and reminder of their faith.
A Yarmulke Indicates Reverence And Humility
The wearing of a yarmulke or kippah is intended to separate sacred, holy time from everyday time. A yarmulke indicates reverence and humility, a constant acknowledgment that God is above us, in mind and in heart. Some consider a kippah to be a reminder, much like a wedding ring, that we are not to stray into inappropriate thoughts and activities. In addition, it is a recognizable symbol of our Jewish faith to other members of the world community.
The Wearing of a Yarmulke
Though the wearing of yarmulkes is not mandated by the Torah or the Talmud, it was customary in ancient times for Jews in prayer to cover their heads as a sign of respect for God. For men today, whether kippah is required or optional largely depends on the synagogue they attend.
Yarmulkes are widely available for infants as well as adults. The adult versions often are accompanied by kippah clips or have a comb sewn inside to help hold the yarmulke in place. An infant's kippah features ribbon-like ties that can be secured under the baby's chin.
The Ladies Yarmulke - An Individual Choice
For women, the wearing of a women's kippah is based on individual choice. Many scholars believe that women do not need the constant reminder of a kippah to stay focused on God and ready themselves for prayer, as women are already spiritually closer to God than men and, therefore, do not require such "tools" to help them along. However, increasing numbers of Jewish women are choosing to don their own ladies yarmulkes for these very reasons.
In the Orthodox tradition, married Jewish women are advised to cover their hair as an act of modesty. While a ladies yarmulke does not cover a great deal of hair (and, therefore, would not meet Orthodox dictates), it can be worn as a contemporary nod toward this traditional act of modesty.
The Women's Kippah - A Beautiful Creation
Just as women's fashion choices vary widely, ladies yarmulkes can be found in an amazing array of designs, colors and textures. A women's kippah can be sewn from solid cloth, crafted of wire spirals strung with beads or precious stones, knitted, adorned with tassels and more. They can be as functional or fancy as the wearer desires - even whimsical.
Today's a woman's kippah is a beautiful creation, a conversation piece, as well as a respectful symbol of the wearer's piety and a way to acknowledge God.
If you enjoyed this article about The Yarmulke, you may also be interested in:
- The Shema Israel
- The Jewish Star of David
- Symbolism of the Pomegranate
- Symbolism of the Miriam's Cup
- See our collection of handmade yarmulkes (kippahs)