Yarmulke origins

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  • #1589522

    Doing my best
    Participant

    I was just wondering, where does the minhag of wearing a yarmulke come from and when did it start?

    #1589674

    laskern
    Participant

    MB brings in SA O”CH 2:6 s’K 10 the gemora Shabbos 156 Cover your head in order to have the fear of Heaven on you, can be that you should recognize that there is someone above you.

    #1590033

    slominer
    Participant

    laskern: That doesn’t answer the OP’s question.

    #1590128

    Neville ChaimBerlin
    Participant

    I assumed it was just the most practical device for covering one’s head in the least intrusive manor. Does that answer the question?

    #1590096

    akuperma
    Participant

    Until relatively recently, many people wore skullcaps. It was declasse to go around bare headed. As long as that was the situation, no one noticed that Jews were wearing them as well. So really the “yarmulke” as we call it was invented (okay, “noticed” as something Jewish) around the end of the 18th century when most goyim stopped wearing them.

    If you question is really when did Jewish start covering their heads, the real question is when secular Jews starting uncovering there heads as a sign of lack of piety, and the answer is late 18th century (before that, going bare headed might so their rejection of social conventions, but not their rejection of Jewishness).

    #1590274

    MDG
    Participant

    About the word yarmulke, from etymonline . com

    yarmulke (n.)

    1903, from Yiddish yarmulke, from Polish jarmułka, originally “a skullcap worn by priests,” perhaps ultimately from Medieval Latin almutia “cowl, hood.”

    #1590283

    1
    Participant

    Yarmulke is a compound of ירא מלכה. We learn there’s a chiyum to cover ones head from an אסמחת in a גמרא.

    #1590326

    theroshyeshiva
    Participant

    Just to clarify:
    Are you asking for the mekor in the gemara as to covering one’s head.
    Or, are you asking when yidden actually started covering their heads as part of normative halacha since the gemara implies it’s a middus chassidus rather than compulsory while SA paskens it’s compulsory.
    Or, is this a question about the round little kippa that people wear today. That was not what head coverings looked like through the ages.

    #1590381

    laskern
    Participant

    I once heard from Rav Shulman was asked how big a yarmulke you should have? He said it should cover your brain. The explanation is that we dress up the sefer Torah because you want to protect what is valuable.

    #1590380

    Doing my best
    Participant

    when yidden actually started covering their heads as part of normative halacha.

    #1590425

    Doing my best
    Participant

    And is it a minhag, mitzvah, inyan tov- what kind of thing is it?
    And just wondering, how can it cover your brain-as the brain takes up a large volume of your head you would probably have to wear a ski mask to cover it, or maybe i’m misunderstanding it?

    #1590980

    Neville ChaimBerlin
    Participant

    Ah, so this is a backdoor way of restarting a discussion that recently took place on another thread.

    #1590988

    laskern
    Participant

    Don’t taking it literally. He was saying that people who wear a small yarmulke have a small brain, they are not so smart, otherwise they would be wearing a larger one. Any way most of the head should be covered. רובו ככולו most is considered like the whole.

    #1591100

    theroshyeshiva
    Participant

    The gemara is mashma it’s a middus chassidis, SA brings it l’halacha. The nosei keilim point out this issue.
    It would seem that in the time of the gemara it was not standard practice for all but by the times of the early achronim it was already widely accepted as compulsory. Perhaps during the times of the rishonim the minhag spread, I really don’t know. Maybe someone else knows more about the history of it. A Jewish History professor would be a good person to ask- YU has some widely respected and knowledgeable professors who may be able to answer this.
    Certainly today it would be considered halacha pesuka in SA and fall under the umbrella of al titash toras imecha.

    #1591107

    shuali
    Participant

    “I was just wondering, where does the minhag of wearing a yarmulke come from and when did it start?”

    I believe that, for whatever reason, this is now a codified halachah and longer a minhag (if it ever was simply that).
    The Gemora discusses that children sometimes went with uncovered heads and sometimes with covered heads. Adults, the implication is, always covered their heads.
    Having spoken with Sefardisheh Rabbonim and immigrants from the Middle East (Iran in particular) they, too, always covered their heads except when their lives were being threatened.

    #1591106

    akuperma
    Participant

    If the goyim started going around with shirts, those who ask “when did frummies start wearing yarmulkes” would then ask “when did frummies start wearing shirts”.

    #1591105

    shuali
    Participant

    @mdg
    “About the word yarmulke, from etymonline.com
    yarmulke (n.) 1903, from Yiddish yarmulke, from Polish jarmułka, originally “a skullcap worn by priests,” perhaps ultimately from Medieval Latin almutia “cowl, hood.”

    Two points:
    (1) It is well known and widely accepted (see “The Word” and “Safah Achas”) that the etymology of many words as found in the more scholarly dictionaries are not only incorrect, but, at times, purposefully misleading.
    (2) Upon hearing an Iranian Jew refer to a yarmulka, I asked him if that is how it was referred to in Iran from where he immigrated as an adult (married with school-age children). He answered of course. So it is unlikely the word is of Polish origins. It is far more likely the Polish word has its origins in the Yiddish-adopted, Lashon HaKodesh based word.

    #1591275

    Joseph
    Participant

    The long-standing term to refer to it by most Jews has long been yarmulka. The word kippa is of relatively recent vintage, insofar as its common usage. In Yiddish it is called a kapul.

    #1592179

    Doing my best
    Participant

    when did yidden actually start covering their heads? Har Sinai, 1st Bais Hamikdash, 2nd, tanaim, amoraim, etc.

    #1593593

    Doing my best
    Participant

    Akupurma,
    I love how you don’t answer the question and instead attack me.
    my question was about the history of yarmulkes, when they started? out of curiosity.

    #1595489

    Milhouse
    Participant

    1 & shuali, the ירא מלכא etymology is false. There is no question whatsoever that the word comes from Polish & Ukranian, though every dictionary I’ve seen traces its ultimate roots not to Latin but to the Turkish word for a raincoat. As for the Iranian gentleman you spoke to, perhaps his father called it a yarmulke, but I guarantee you his grandfather did not, unless he was a Yiddish-speaking immigrant to Iran.

    #1595497

    1
    Participant

    Milhouse, how can you say something from Chazal is false?

    #1596903

    Milhouse
    Participant

    1, Chazal never heard of the word “yarmulke”, and certainly never offered an opinion on its etymology. The ירא מלכא etymology, like most folk etymology, is absolutely false.

    #1597313

    Neville ChaimBerlin
    Participant

    Milhouse: care to bring any proof as to why you can state with such confidence that it’s false?

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