1. Why do many Jews keep their heads covered even when they pray?




According to some, the Jewish custom of keeping the head always covered originated in Babylon where some scholars believed that keeping the head covered was a sign of humility and of submission to God. From Babylon this custom extended to the Jews who lived in Spain and then during the Middle Ages it extended to all the Jewish communities in Europe.

This headgear we see upon the head of many Jews is called Yarmulke in Yiddish (a language which is a mixture of German and Hebrew), and Kippah in Hebrew.

To an Orthodox Jew, to pray without it, and to some Orthodox Jews even to go from one place to another (even from the kitchen to the bedroom) without it, is a sin.

They wear that headgear in order to remember that they are in the presence of God.

Obviously, to a Jew, wearing the skullcap in the midst of those who are not Jews is also a way to distinguish himself and to show his pride of being a Jew.

In some Jewish communities even some women wear the skullcap. The kind of headgear the Jews wear shows the group they belong to. For instance, there are some groups of Orthodox Jews who wear a hat (in some groups this hat is like a top hat). Many Israelites wear some skullcaps which are knitted, which show an attitude open to modernity. Many non-orthodox Jews don’t wear any headgear even when they pray, for they point out that such a custom is not written in the Bible nor in the whole Halachic literature which goes from the Mishnah to the Shulcan Aruch, and that the Jews who lived in Israel and in Europe worshipped God with their heads uncovered from the most remote ancient times to the late Middle Ages. Nevertheless, in recent times among the Reformed Jews (who, unlike the Orthodox Jews, do not accept some Jewish doctrines and practices) the custom of praying with the head covered has grown.

I take the opportunity of pointing out that the men who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ cannot and must not accept the Jewish custom of praying with the head covered because the Scripture forbids men to cover their heads when they pray or prophesy. The apostle Paul says to the Corinthians: “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God” (1 Corinthians 11:7 – NKJV). Therefore a man who is in Christ must not wear any headgear while he prays or prophesies because he is the image of God. What happens if he wears a headgear when he prays or prophesies? He dishonours Christ his head, for it is written: “The head of every man is Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3 – NKJV) and: “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head” (1 Corinthians 11.4 – NKJV).

On the contrary, every woman who is in Christ must cover her head when she prays or prophesies because she is the glory of man and thus she must have, because of the angels, a sign of authority on her head. Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered, dishonors her head, that is, man (1 Corinthians 11:3-16).