Why do people still wear black hats?

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  • #598803
    Abelleh
    Participant

    Look at picture from the 1920’s – 1960’s and you’ll see all well dressed men wearing hats. They were in style, so it made sense (if you want to look good anyway) to wear one. Now NO ONE except Jews wear hats. Why do we still keep it up even though they are no longer in style?

    #803524
    Tomche
    Member

    It is worn because it is the current uniform of bnei Torah.

    #803525
    Sam2
    Participant

    I think the question is why are black hats still the uniform of “B’nei Torah”. (I put those words in quotes not to claim that those that wear black hats aren’t B’nei Torah but to avoid the implcation that anyone who doesn’t wear a black hat is not a Ben Torah.) They were the uniform of B’nei Torah years ago because B’nei Torah always dressed respectably and that is what respectable people wore 100-50 years ago. The question is why is it the uniform of “B’nei Torah” nowadays when it is no longer how they average respectable person dresses.

    #803526
    HIE
    Participant

    I,ve heard b’shem HaRAv Chaim Kanievsky Shlit”a that it’s better to daven w/o a minyan w/ a hat then w/ a minyan w/o a hat.

    Consult your LOR for halacha lemaseh but this is just a thought.

    #803527
    Toi
    Participant

    modern society doesnt dress well or respectably. do you want the uniform of bnei torah to be jeans and a t shirt?

    #803528
    YW Moderator-42
    Moderator

    The OP isn’t suggesting that B’nei Torah should wear jeans and a t-shirt. He mentions “well dressed men”. Well dressed men nowadays (think CEO’s, lawyers, businessmen, etc) dress respectably but don’t wear hats. The president doesn’t wear a hat. Many MO people obviously hold of this as they will come to shul dressed respectably but without a hat. The question is why Yeshivish people still do this.

    #803529
    Toi
    Participant

    original posters intention was understood. 100 years ago everyone, yes everyone; any grown up man wore a hat. it was standard attire. not only the rich and famous wore it. it wasnt a status symbol. people nowadays have changed whats the norm. the bnei torah arent looking to dress like ceos; they want to dress like normal, respectable people. if nowadays the average joe doesnt have enough respect for himself to dress in a bkovodik’ manner that doesnt change what is really standard nice attire. so actually, the standard would be jeans and a t shirt, because we’re not aiming to look like ceos

    #803530
    Tomche
    Member

    Jews b’derech dress differently than non-Jews.

    #803531
    Sam2
    Participant

    @HIE: I always wondered about that famous P’sak (it’s published) and had someone ask him for me. I was told that was only meant to apply in areas where it is considered improper to be without a hat (e.g. B’nei Brak where R’ Chaim Kanievsky lives).

    #803532
    MiddlePath
    Participant

    I think the uniform of a ben torah should be a mode of dress befitting one who considers himself part of the nation of G-d. For some, that means wearing a white button-down shirt, black pants, and a black hat. For others, that means wearing a green polo shirt, jeans, and a kippah. It is different for different people. The main thing is to realize that people interpret “proper dress code” differently, and to not look down on others for dressing differently.

    #803534
    old man
    Participant

    The reason that the yeshivishe uniform remains with the black hat is because society encourages labeling and compartmentalizing. It is a product of social evolution and occurs in all societies, albeit in varying degrees and nuances. It contributes to a feeling of identification and belonging to a specific cultural group. By nature, it will not “go back” to the styles of previous generations. Will it change in the future? Everything changes.

    #803535
    agittayid
    Participant

    “I,ve heard b’shem HaRAv Chaim Kanievsky Shlit”a that it’s better to daven w/o a minyan w/ a hat then w/ a minyan w/o a hat.”

    Has the black hat already obtained status as a religious object?

    #803537
    Abelleh
    Participant

    @Tomche: This is obviously not true. The reason Jews started wearing black hats was because it was considered a respectable dress by WORLDly standards (or at least American). So from what I gather from all the previous posts, (please correct me if I’m wrong) is that one wears a black hat in order to associate with those who also wear a black hat (and presumably there’s some sort of basic underlying hashkofah between all of them)?

    #803538
    Abe Cohen
    Participant

    The Mishna Berura says you can’t daven or bentch without a hat.

    #803539
    Sam2
    Participant

    What the Mishnah B’Rurah actually says (91:12) is “And nowadays one must wear a hat while he Davens like the way he walks in the street, and not with the small hat that is worn under the hat because it is not nnormal (proper) to stand like that in front of important people.”

    He explicitly states (twice) that this necessity to wear a hat is only time-based and because that’s how it was considered proper to present oneself.

    #803540
    Moshe Kohn
    Member

    @Abe Cohen -No he does not. Anywhere. And even where he cites a double head covering as praiseworthy, a cap fits the bill just as well. That’s what the Chafetz Chaim (and most Polish and Lithuanian Jews of his times) wore on a daily basis.

    It is worthwhile to point out that 50-100 years ago the fedoras worn were not necessarily black.

    See the (in)famous pictures of the Bochurim in the Mir and Slabodka.

    IMHO the black hat as a uniform is something that rubbed off on the Litvaks from the Chassidim.

    And yes, I wear a black hat.

    #803541
    optimusprime
    Member

    Rav Efraim Miskeitner writes that a Jew is identified through internal and external means. In the modern era, the most proper way to be externally Jewish is to wear a black hat.

    #803542
    Jersey Jew
    Participant

    to the original poster….

    we wear hats (for davening) because we are supposed to cover our heads with more than just a yarmulka. back in the early 1900s the color available wasnt black so they wore whatever the prevailing color was – usually greyish. as for the dress of a yid, i would rather walk around with clothing on than to walk around looking like the typical goyish’e b’haima who feels the need to expose just about every part of their disgusting body. Think about it, you have probably seen animals in the zoo covered with more!

    #803543
    Sam2
    Participant

    Moshe Kohn: The Mishnah B’Rurah doesn’t say to have a double head covering. What he actually quotes (91:6) is a Zohar that one should keep both his head and eyes covered. The most practical and best way to this (which he explicitly says) is with a Tallis. Obviously it will be very hard to put a Tallis over your head and eyes with a hat on.

    Optimus: When did a Kippah and Tzitzis stop being enough?

    #803545
    Abe Cohen
    Participant

    Who said a cap isn’t sufficient. I said a hat, which is what a cap is. I didn’t say the MB specified a fedora.

    #803546
    Moshe Kohn
    Member

    @Sam -I was referring to the Mishnah Berurah regarding Birchas HaMazone

    #803547

    At what point in history did we not wear a hat, fez, turban or the like that we should stop now?

    #803548
    optimusprime
    Member

    That is what developed over time. If the Gedolei Hador declared that a true Ben-Torah wears a black hat, then that should be enough. Tzitzis can be tucked in and do not even get me started with some Kippahs I have seen with innapropriate logos or statements (not athletic teams mind you). The hat is the most distinguishable feature of a Jew and always will be, especially due to the fact that only Jews wear them today.

    #803549
    YehudahTzvi
    Participant

    For better or for worse, I love hats. JFK killed the hat industry as he was the first President to go w/o one. The fashion of not wearing hats followed his lead. My only problem is when the Fedora is seen as a religious obligation or as a holy item. It’s a hat.

    I wear my black hat when a) it’s raining or b) when it’s too sunny out. Again it’s just a hat. To those people defending hats as an obligation: would you be fine with me coming to shul in a Fez or a Top Hat?

    #803550
    YehudahTzvi
    Participant

    I think I hit on something… TOP HATS for EVERYONE!

    #803551
    Sam2
    Participant

    @Moshe Kohn: The Mishnah B’Rurah (183:11) by Bentsching is quite interesting actually. But he does cite that it is the Minhag to wear an actual hat of some type for Bentsching. That has nothing to do with Shmoneh Esrei though and is a special Din by a Kos Shel B’racha. In fact, to actually follow the Magen Avraham who the M”B quotes, one would have to wear their hat for Kiddush, Havdalah, a Bris, a wedding, the 4 Kosos at the Seder etc. because they are all Kosos Shel Brachah.

    @Derech Hamelech: At what other point in history did respectable society worldwide not wear one of those.

    #803552
    chaimss
    Participant

    Perhaps at one point the Fedora was specified to look respectable, but now it serves a more important purpose- to make us stand out. I am in a college in NYC and I make a point to go to class at least once with my hat (not necessarily wearing it all of class, but to have it). This immediately marks me as different, and as such I’ve never been invited to my classmates parties, etc. that they indulge in after school. It marks me as someone different, who doesn’t _mish_ with the secular world.

    #803554
    Hacham
    Member

    Personally, I believe Jewish men should wear their hat anytime they are in public. Aside it being the traditional dress of Jewish men to always wear a hat, it makes a distinction between Jew and Gentile, as our clothes always have throughout our history from Egypt on.

    #803555
    Moshe Kohn
    Member

    @Sam2 -I was not disagreeing with the fact that according to the Mishnah Berurah one should wear a hat. I was merely taking issue with Abe Cohen’s first post on this thread namely that, “The Mishna Berura says you ‘can’t’ daven or bentch without a hat.”

    You CAN’T shuckle lulav without a lulav, but you actually CAN daven or bentch without a hat. Should you? Ahhh… That’s a different question entirely! According to the Mishnah Berurah you should don an additional head covering for davening and bentching.

    #803556
    mewho
    Participant

    how about pink hats? pink shirts seem to be all the rage lately.

    #803557
    Sam2
    Participant

    @Moshe Kohn I was not agreeing with Abe Cohen’s post at all. The Mishnah B’rurah makes no mention of wearing an ‘additional’ hat for Davening or Bentsching. One head covering is enough. Of course you can Daven or Bentch without a hat, unless you’re in a place like B’nei Brak where the lack of a hat would be considered disrespectful. A lot of people misquote/make up these Mishnah B’rurahs and it really bothers me. He never says you need a double head covering and his statement about wearing a hat for Davening is very clearly only because of the fact that all people always wore hats outside.

    #803558

    Although the Mishna Berura implies that the requirement to wear a hat for tefillah is societal, Rav Moshe Feinstein ( I didn’t read the teshuvva, so I don’t know why) says that it still applies nowadays. Also, Rav Soloveitchik required atifah for all devarim shebikdusha (with certain exceptions), and he said if you won’t use a tallis, a hat will also suffice.

    On the other hand,the Tzitz Eliezer (13:13)says that since nowadays most people have no problem walking in the street without a hat, it is not necessary to daven with a hat.

    In yeshivish circles, many people actually tend to walk in the street with hats.

    But those who are careful to daven with a hat, and those who don’t, have what to rely upon, as there are poskim who rule both ways.

    #803559

    I don’t think any poskim say the hat has to be black, though.

    #803560
    metrodriver
    Member

    Sam 2; What about wearing a hat while driving in 90o weather in the Summer? I’ve seen many Choshuve Yidden who drive (the Air conditioned, leased Minivan) up to, and in the mountains without a jacket (Only a tie.) but the hat is ubiquitous, B”H. I go with the Israeli originating crowd, who wear the hat only to Mincha/Maariv in Shul.

    #803561
    Sam2
    Participant

    How did I become the person who advocates wearing hats in this thread? All I was doing was trying to point out what the Mishnah B’rurah actually says because so many people misunderstand/are misinformed about it. I clearly pointed out that it’s societal. If you are in a society that requires wearing a hat, it is a lack of Kavod Hatfila to not wear a hat to Daven. Everywhere else it’s fine to not wear a hat. I wore a hat when I spent Shabboses in Me’ah She’arim. The rest of the time I usually don’t.

    I once knew a boy who was being Chozer Bitshuvah. He found out that his family roots are in Chassidism. So he began walking a mile to Shul in a Bekeshe every Shabbos. Two Lakewook guys once visited the community and told him that maybe he shouldn’t wear it because it makes him stand out too much. They had a point. There is a concept of not dressing in a way that makes you stand out. Then again, in this small, out-of-town Shul, the two guests from Lakewood were the only others (other than the Chassidish kid) wearing hats.

    #803562

    There is still a reason to wear a hat nowadays, because devarim shebikdusha require atifah.

    #803563
    yic
    Member

    one of the big things why god toke us out from egypt is because we didnt change our clothes so now the hat and suit is what is keeping us diffrent from the goyim so for this its self we should keep going with this uniform

    #803564
    Sam2
    Participant

    Atifah requires covering part of the face also. A tallis works for that if you want to be Makpid on that. A hat doesn’t really.

    #803565
    mewho
    Participant

    i think it is dangerous to drive while wearing a hat.

    it might block some of the rear view mirror visibility

    #803566

    Sam2: If you wear the brim down, it covers almost as much of the face as a tallis does. Also, according to the GR”A, atifah does not necessitate ituf Yishma’elim. That’s why the GR”A, and some Litvaks (including Rav Soloveitchik), were noheig to make a bracha on the tallis, and then put it on the head, without wrapping it like a khaffiyeh, or covering the face. So, according to them, a hat would do just fine.

    #803567
    anon1m0us
    Participant

    Yic: In Egypt the Jews never wore a hat and jacket so at some point the Jews decided to wear one and dress like goyim.

    #803568
    musser zoger
    Participant

    In a Bais Medrash I’ve seen black fedoras laid on top of gemaras.

    #803569
    yic
    Member
    #803570
    Hacham
    Member

    anon1m0us: In Egypt the Jews dressed differently than the goyim, and today with their hats and jackets dress differently than the goyim. We should always dress differently than the goyim.

    #803571
    yic
    Member

    1)what i m saying is that if your father was dressed with a hate and suit you should not change because this uniform is keeping us diffrent from the goyim 2)i m driving alt around amirca and allways when i m going in to a rest area i m putting on my suit and most times my hat cause i m proud i m a jew and with my uniform and one point it is giving me a holy feeling that i m a jew and i m diffrent

    #803572
    anon1m0us
    Participant

    Hacham: First, a lot of African Americans wear black hats.

    Second, what did the Jews do before the 1950’s when wearing a hat was common among the non jewish society? According to your sevorah, the jews must of not worn hats.

    #803573
    Hacham
    Member

    anon: The Jews always dressed differently than the goyim. Only the details of how they dressed differently have changed over time.

    #803574
    Abelleh
    Participant

    So it seems as thought the majority of people who advocate wearing a black hat do it to separate themselves from the goyim. This, as anon1m0us said, is horribly oxymoronic because initially hats wore worn to look respectable from a cosmopolitan (and thusly “goyish”) standard. It’s quiet odd that the reason for wearing the hat not only comes ex post facto, but one would need to violate the principle initially (as one would dress like the goyim when hats were in style) only then to have a distinctive look (when they went out of style). Once again, we don’t really have a conclusive answer (outside the societal argument, but that also needs a justification of why people started/continued wearing black hats).

    #803575
    Hacham
    Member

    Jews always wore a hat or other head covering. (Aside/addition to a yarmulka.) The only thing that changed over time was what type of hat or other head covering it was.

    #803576
    Sam2
    Participant

    Are you sure you are correct Hacham? If I recall correctly, I once saw a letter by the Maharshal complaining that the average person walks outside without their head covered. Can you prove/do you have a source that Jews always did this? I also seem to recall a Gemara in Kiddushin that Bachurim (before they were married) would not wear an (additional) covering on their heads.

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