Kenneth Cohen

The Kippa

The discussion in the Talmud regarding the validity of astrology, led to a fascinating story. A Jewish woman was told that her newborn son would grow up to be a thief. This is what was written in the stars.

The woman took this prediction very seriously. She came up with a solution to show that Jewish people can rise above the “stars.”

She told her son from a young age that he must always keep his head covered. Children at that time often went with their heads uncovered. The boy kept his mother’s wishes and grew up to become the great Rav Nachman Bar Yitzchak.

He never understood why his mother made this request of him until one day he was studying under a palm tree. His head covering blew off, and he noticed a delicious cluster of dates. He did not know what possessed him, and he bit off the cluster. He realized at that moment that he had stolen. His head covering kept him honest.

It was explained that covering the head brought protection, as it was a constant reminder of Divine protection. Later, it became an accepted custom for Jewish man to keep his head covered at all times. The “Kippa” eventually evolved as the proper head covering. The story of Rav Nachman Bar Yitzchak, was cited as the origin for wearing a Yarmulke, or Kippa.
It is clear that when one who once wore a Kippa regularly, takes it off, a lot more than the Kippa comes off with it. We can wear hats or other attire for our head, but we should take this seriously.

We must not be afraid to show that we are proud to be Jewish. Even Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” mentioned the importance of this custom. He said, “We always keep our heads covered to remind us of our constant devotion to G-d.” In this crazy world of today, such reminders are very important.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at
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