In my Published study on the mezuzah titled Blood on the Door, I have included a supplementary chapter dedicated to the Yarmulka or kippa. This excerpt aims to clarify its significance and address a common query I encounter. Many have inquired, "Pastor, I notice you often don a head covering. Does this signify your Jewish identity, and where is this practice mentioned in the Holy Bible?"
To clarify, in Hebrew, this head covering is termed a Kipah or Yarmulka. My choice to wear it, particularly in the company of our Messianic brethren, stems from a deep-seated respect for God. The Holy Bible indeed references head coverings, predominantly in a metaphorical sense, emphasizing our hair rather than physical headgear.
The Yarmulka in Historical and Scriptural Context
The practice of wearing a head covering, such as the Yarmulka, finds its roots in a rich tapestry of historical and scriptural narratives. While the Bible does not explicitly mandate the wearing of a Yarmulka, the tradition is deeply ingrained in Jewish culture and has significant scriptural undertones. The concept of covering one's head, as seen in various biblical passages, symbolizes a gesture of humility and reverence before God. This notion aligns with the principle that God is the ultimate authority over all creation, a theme recurrent throughout the scriptures.
The Yarmulka as a Gesture of Reverence and Humility
In wearing the Yarmulka, we acknowledge our subservience and humility before the Almighty. It is a physical manifestation of the inner state of reverence that each believer is called to embody. The act of covering one's head, especially during prayer and worship, is a powerful expression of submission to God's sovereignty. It reminds us that we are in the presence of the Divine, a presence that transcends cultural and denominational boundaries.
Bridging Cultural and Denominational Divides
The adoption of the Yarmulka by Christians, particularly those exploring the Jewish roots of their faith, is a testament to the unifying power of shared religious symbols. It serves as a reminder that Christianity, in its essence, has deep roots in Jewish tradition. This shared heritage is a call for mutual respect and understanding between Jews and Christians. By embracing practices such as the wearing of the Yarmulka, we acknowledge and honor the Jewish foundation of our Christian faith.
The Yarmulka in Contemporary Christian Practice
In contemporary Christian circles, the Yarmulka is increasingly seen as a symbol of solidarity with our Jewish brethren and a reminder of our common Abrahamic heritage. It is a visual representation of the scriptural truth that in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile (Galatians 3:28). This adoption transcends mere tradition; it is a powerful statement of our unity in faith and our collective submission to the God we serve.
For instance, the scripture in
1 Corinthians 11:3-16 (CEB) “Now I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered shames his head. 5 Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered disgraces her head. It is the same thing as having her head shaved. 6 If a woman doesn’t cover her head, then she should have her hair cut off. If it is disgraceful for a woman to have short hair or to be shaved, then she should keep her head covered. 7 A man shouldn’t have his head covered, because he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is man’s glory. 8 Man didn’t have his origin from woman, but woman from man; 9 and man wasn’t created for the sake of the woman, but the woman for the sake of the man. 10 Because of this a woman should have authority over her head, because of the angels. 11 However, woman isn’t independent from man, and man isn’t independent from woman in the Lord. 12 As woman came from man so also man comes from woman. But everything comes from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: Is it appropriate for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Doesn’t nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him; 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? This is because her long hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if someone wants to argue about this, we don’t have such a custom, nor do God’s churches. “
The Yarmulka transcends the realm of mere headwear. It serves as a poignant reminder of God's omnipresent grace and blessings upon believers. This practice is not exclusive to the Jewish faith; it resonates with both Jew and Gentile. Historically, and even in contemporary times, women in certain Christian denominations have worn bonnets or hats as a sign of reverence in church. Similarly, our Jewish counterparts and an increasing number of Christians express this respect through the wearing of a head covering or Yarmulka.
My extensive studies into the roots of our faith and the Hebrew language have revealed a significant omission of Jewish traditions from Christianity, often in an attempt to distance the faith from its Jewish origins. The Talmud, though not recognized as a scriptural authority in Christianity, offers insights into the Yarmulka's purpose. It suggests that wearing a Yarmulka serves as a constant reminder of God's supreme authority over us. This external symbol fosters an internal awareness of God's ever-watchful presence.
The Yarmulka, therefore, is not merely a cultural artifact; it is a tool to cultivate and externalize one's inner reverence for God. Historically, it was commonplace for both men and women to wear head coverings in public. This practice, as reflected in the aforementioned scripture, was particularly observed in churches, a tradition still prevalent in many congregations today. The act of wearing a tangible symbol like the Yarmulka can be a powerful aid in maintaining a continuous consciousness of our duties and remembrance of the divine.
The Yarmulka is more than a traditional Jewish head covering; it is a universal symbol of respect and remembrance of God's constant presence and authority. It serves as a bridge connecting us to the rich heritage of our faith, reminding us of the deep roots that Christianity shares with Judaism.