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Jewish religious clothing

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Haredi Jew wearing a kippah, a tallit, and tefillin
Haredi Jew wearing tzitzit

Jewish religious clothing has been influenced by Biblical commandments, modesty requirements and the contemporary style of clothing worn in many societies in which the Jews have lived. In Judaism, clothes are also a vehicle for religious ritual.[1] Many Jewish men wore turbans, tunics, cloaks, and sandals.

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Tallit, tzitzit, and tallit katan

The tallit is a Jewish prayer shawl worn while reciting morning prayers as well as in the synagogue on Sabbath and holidays. In Yemen, the wearing of such garments was not unique to prayer time alone, but was worn the entire day.[2] The tallit has special twined and knotted fringes known as tzitzit attached to its four corners. It is sometimes referred to as "arba kanfot" (lit. "four corners") although the term is more common for a tallit katan, an undergarment with tzitzit. According to the biblical it states commandment, a blue thread known as tekhelet is supposed to be included in the tzitzit. Tzitzit are fringes or tassels worn by observant Jews on the corners of four-cornered garments, including the tallit (prayer shawl). Since they are considered by Orthodox tradition to be a time-bound commandment, they are worn only by men; Conservative Judaism regards women as exempt from wearing tzitzit, not as prohibited.[3] Jewish men are buried in a tallit as part of the tachrichim (shroud; burial garments).


A kippah or yarmulke (also called a kappel or "skull cap") is a thin, slightly-rounded skullcap traditionally worn at all times by Orthodox Jewish men, and sometimes by both men and women in Conservative and Reform communities. Its use is associated with demonstrating respect and reverence for God.[4] Jews in Arab lands did not traditionally wear yarmulkes, but rather larger rounded hats, without brims.

Women's hair coverings

Married Orthodox Jewish women wear a scarf (tichel), a snood, a hat, a beret, or - sometimes - a wig (sheitel) in order to conform with the requirement of Jewish religious law that married women cover their hair.[5]

There are non-canonical rabbinical writings on hair covering in relation to tzniut (meaning "modesty"), such as: Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Jacob ben Asher's Stone of Help 115, 4; Orach Chayim 75,2; Even Ha'ezer 21, 2 4.[6]


A kittel (Yiddish: קיטל) is a white knee-length cotton robe worn by Jewish prayer leaders and some Orthodox Jews on the High Holidays. In some families, the head of the household wears a kittel at the Passover seder.[7] In some circles it is customary for the groom at a Jewish wedding to wear a kittel under the wedding canopy.

Jewish customs vs. Gentile customs

 Traditional Jewish attire in Yemen
Traditional Jewish attire in Yemen

A question was posed to Rabbi Joseph Colon (Maharik) regarding "Gentile clothing" and whether or not a Jew who wears such clothing transgresses a biblical prohibition that states, "You shall not walk in their precepts" (Leviticus 18:3). In a protracted responsum, [8] Rabbi Colon wrote that any Jew who might be a practising physician is permitted to wear a physician's cape (traditionally worn by Gentile physicians on account of their expertise in that particular field of science and their wanting to be recognized as such), and that the Jewish physician who wore it has not infringed upon any law in the Torah, even though Jews were not wont to wear such garments in former times. He noted that there is nothing attributed to "superstitious" practice by their wearing such a garment, while, at the same time, there isn't anything promiscuous or immodest about wearing such a cape, neither is it worn out of haughtiness. Moreover, he has understood from Maimonides (Hil. Avodat Kokhavim 11:1) that there is no commandment requiring a fellow Jew to seek out and look for clothing which would make them stand out as "different" from what is worn by Gentiles, but rather, only to make sure that what a Jew might wear is not an "exclusive" Gentile item of clothing. He noted that wearing a physician's cape is not an exclusive Gentile custom, noting, moreover, that since the custom to wear the cape varies from place to place, and that, in France, physicians do not have it as a custom to wear such capes, it cannot therefore be an exclusive Gentile custom.

According to Rabbi Colon, modesty was still a criterion for wearing Gentile clothing, writing: "...even if Israel made it as their custom [to wear] a certain item of clothing, while the Gentiles [would wear] something different, if the Israelite garment should not measure up to [the standard established in] Judaism or of modesty more than what the Gentiles hold as their practice, there is no prohibition whatsoever for an Israelite to wear the garment that is practised among the Gentiles, seeing that it is in [keeping with] the way of fitness and modesty just as that of Israel."

See also



  1. ^ When a Tel Aviv fashion house meets Women of the Wall.Haaretz
  2. ^ Yehuda Ratzaby, Ancient Customs of the Yemenite Jewish Community (ed. Shalom Seri and Israel Kessar), Tel-Aviv 2005, p. 30 (Hebrew)
  3. ^ Signs and Symbols
  4. ^ Kippah
  5. ^ Sherman, Julia (November 17, 2010). "She goes covered". 
  6. ^ Schiller, Mayer (1995). ""The Obligation of Married Women to Cover Their Hair"" (PDF). The Journal of Halacha (30 ed.). pp. 81–108. Retrieved June 26, 2016. 
  7. ^ Eider, Shimon. Halachos of Pesach. Feldheim publishers. ISBN 0-87306-864-5. 
  8. ^ Questions & Responsa of Rabbi Joseph Colon, responsum # 88

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 8 December 2017, at 15:24.
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