Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Male Head Coverings: Perhaps Not as Old a Custom as You Might Think

Here's Bloch on the evolution of this custom:

"Rav Nachman (4th cent.) was cautioned by his mother in his youth to cover his head to induce the fear of God in him (Shabbat 156b).  It is obvious that this was not the standard custom of that time....
Maimonides...imposed [head-covering]...only upon scholars.
By the 16th century, rabbinic opposition to bareheadedness was backed by a consensus of most Jews....
The law requiring women to cover their heads so as not to expose their hair dates back at least to the 2nd century.  The Talmud derived this restriction from a biblical verse (Ketubot 72a).  The objection to the exposure of female hair was based on considerations of morality rather than modesty.  The sight of a woman's hair was considered sexually provocative (Berachot 24a).  ....Interestingly, virgins were excepted from this restriction (Bayit Chadash, Tur Even HaEzer 21. Lo yelechu).  This concession was probably due to the need of girls to display their beauty in order to attract prospective husbands," (pg. 104 The Biblical and HIstorical Background of Jewish Customs and Ceremonies by Abraham Bloch)
My message to the Messianic community:  head-coverings are good but let's not be too uptight about them.  It's more important that a married woman wear a head-covering (since Paul has spoken about this matter at length).

1 comment:

  1. The Cohanim always used head coverings when in the temple. Maybe we can't be sure about the always using it, but it was probably a very early costum to cover it when on service.