Should a Man Wear a Kippah?
James Scott Trimm
How are we to understand Paul’s statement: “For a man ought not to veil his head” (1Cor. 11:7) does this refer to the wearing of the kippah?
Absolutely not! The Aramaic word here is K’SA and refers to that which hides or veils. We are to understand that a man is not to wear a woman’s veil, as it is written:
A woman shall not wear that which pertains unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for whosoever does these things is an abomination unto YHWH your Elohim.
(Deut. 22:5 HRV)
This cannot refer to the wearing of a kippah, which does not veil the head since the High Priest and Priest were commanded in the Torah to wear head coverings:
And these are the garments which they shall make: a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a tunic of checker work, a mitre, and a girdle. And they shall make Set-Apart garments for Aharon your brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto Me in the cohen’s office.
And for Aharon’s sons, you shall make tunics, and you shall make for them
girdles,and headtires shall you make for them, for splendour and for beauty.
Torah does to prohibit the wearing of a kippah, and Paul had no authority to add to the Torah.
Concerning the apostasy the Ancient Nazarene writer Hegesippus (c. 180 CE) writes that the apostate group had bare heads:
Up to that period (98 CE) the Assembly had remained like a virgin pure and
uncorrupted: for, if there were any persons who were disposed to tamper with the wholesome rule of the preaching of salvation, they still lurked in some dark place of concealment or other. But, when the sacred band of Emissaries had in various ways closed their lives, and that generation of men to whom it had been vouchsafed to listen to the Godlike Wisdom with their own ears had passed away, then did the confederacy of godless error take its rise through the treachery of false teachers, who, seeing that none of the emissaries any longer survived, at length attempted with bare and uplifted head to oppose the preaching of the truth by preaching “knowledge falsely so called.”
(Hegesippus the Nazarene; c. 185 CE Eusebius; Eccl. Hist.3:32)
Moreover in the Shem Tob Hebrew Text of Matthew we read that HaSatan tempted the Messiah to bare his head saying:
And HaSatan took him to an exceedingly high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth and their glory and said to Him, `All these things I will give to you if you bare your head to me.
(Matt. 4:8-9 Shem Tob text)
It certainly seems that the Nazarene custom for a man to wear a kippah (head covering).
The Talmud records that the wearing of a kippah was a custom of humility:
Rabbi Isaac said: He who transgresses in secret is as though he pressed the feet of the Shechinah for it is written: Thus says the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. R. Joshua b. Levi said: One may not walk four cubits with haughty mien, for it is said, the whole earth is full of His glory. Rabbi Huna son of R. Joshua would not walk four cubits bareheaded, saying: The Shechinah is above my head.
Rabbi Nahman ben Isaac’s mother was told by astrologers, Your son will be a thief. [So] she did not let him [be] bareheaded, saying to him, `Cover your
head so that the fear of heaven may be upon you, and pray [for mercy]’. Now, he did not know why she spoke that to him. One day he was sitting and studying under a palm tree; temptation overcame him, he climbed up and bit off a cluster of dates with his teeth.
While the Torah certainly does not require a man to wear a kippah, it also does not prohibit wearing a kippah, and there is some evidence that it was the custom of the original followers of Yeshua (and perhaps Yeshua himself) to wear a kippah as a sign of humility.
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