I recently had an insight inspired by my three year old son. Recently our son had his hair cut — the ritual “chalaka’h” ceremony or for the more Yiddishly inclined among us an “apshearing”
The logical procession from a chalak’ah is a kippa on the child’s head. It is something that most people really don’t think about. If you are associated with any particular branch of orthodox Judaism your kippa reflects it.
The kippa on your head virtually shouts out to strangers on the street: Who you are, what you believe, where you live, what your religious ideology is and how you supposedly live your life.
My son as it happens likes to wear the following on his head: a velvet kippa (from his grandparents), a Nachman kippa, (because it has a pompom on it), a black woolen one (with his name on it), a small knitted one (because he found it), a white Shabbat one (for Shabbat…), a fisherman’s hat (because we have so many fish around our area…), and his sister’s bright pink underwear ( for no apparent reason).
I am totally ok with him wearing all of the above on his head …except for the bright pink underwear (I mean what will the guys think??). As long as he has something on his head, why should I care? What we put on our heads, or don’t put on our heads is personal choice. At least it should be. It should not reflect our religious, political or personal philosophy. It should not reflect where we live, what circles we run in and it should not reflect who our friends are. The kippa on one’s head should reflect nothing. Except the knowledge that there is someone above you.
Without even being aware of the distinctions and labels that exist because of the kippa that one wears on one’s head my son is changing the rules of the game. He can be “charedi” one hour, a “nachmaner” the next and a fisherman the next. He also spends a lot of time losing his kippas, and I guess that is where the bright pink underwear comes from… The point is that he is not limiting himself to one kind of kippa, one kind of life or one kind of lifestyle. He wears all of them naturally, instinctively, intuitively and with equal enthusiasm with special preference for the bright pink underwear. He is blissfully unaware that people are looking at his choices and putting a label on him based on what he is wearing. If my three year old can change the stigma’s that we have created for ourselves, isn’t it time that we did the same?