By Dr. Victoria Sarvadi
The kippah is called a yarmulke in Yiddish. It’s a small skull cap worn by Jewish men and boys to demonstrate reverence and submission to God. The word yarmulke has an inference of awe and reverence to God just as the Hebrew word ‘kippa’ from the word ‘Kippor’ means atonement or covering.
Yom Kippor is the Day of Atonement, a day each year when one fasts, prays, seeks forgiveness from those he has offended and analyzes their shortcomings throughout the year, calling on God to reveal specific sins and imploring him to cover those sins through confession and repentance.
Chuppa which also comes from the same root means a tent (an idiom for talit or prayer shawl) that is spread above the heads of a wedding couple while pledging their vows. This covering above their heads is a beautiful picture of a newly joined couple submitting to the Almighty Creator from the very beginning of their union in His sovereignty and wisdom.
The act of covering ones head in the East is a sign of respect. Ironically, in the West the tradition is opposite -where one removes his hat as a sign of respect. The temple priests always covered their heads when they wore their priestly garments as explained in Exodus 28. When one was in mourning it was also customary to cover the head as depicted in 2 Samuel 15:30. Covering the head was a common custom among the ancient people. Women were expected to show submission by covering their heads. Orthodox Jews always wear a head covering to this day. Other Jews may only wear them during prayer, worship or when studying the Torah.
A head covering is worn to depict an outward demonstration of a submitted heart.
Whether or not one covers his head outwardly is really not the true issue. The true issue is are you submitted to the authority of God in your heart? Is He in control of you? Is He the head? Are you under His governance and covering? Wearing a kippa is really a conscience act of the wearer to yield to the One who has all wisdom and power allowing Him to guide and transform him (or her) through out their walk in life.
We know that Yeshua wore the customary prayer shawl or talit to cover his head when he prayed. Many Believers have followed this example and have adopted this custom in their private prayer lives to pray under “His Wings”. Wings (or Kanaphim in Hebrew) refers to the corners of the prayer shawl where the tassels were attached. While praying, the one under the talit would grab hold of the tassels (attached to the wings) like grabbing the horns of the altar or the attention of the Lord in sincerity of their heart. Praying under the talit was often thought of as being lifted to a higher realm on the wings of a prayer. Often, instead of a talit women chose to use a scarf to show their submission in prayer.
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