Halacha for Monday 9 Elul 5779 September 9 2019

Wearing a Kippa on the Beach- Covering One’s Head While Reciting a Blessing

Question: Must one wear a Kippa on one’s head at the beach? (Obviously, this refers to a situation where being present at the beach poses no modesty concerns, such as in Israel where there are kosher, separate beaches for men and women.) Similarly, when one wishes to recite a blessing, is placing one’s hand on one’s head sufficient to consider one’s head covered tantamount to a Kippa or is one’s hand not considered a head covering in this context?

Answer: Let us first discuss the obligation to cover one’s head when uttering the name of Hashem. We have already explained last week that walking around while wearing a Kippa is not obligatory according to the letter of the law, for when the Gemara (Shabbat 118b) states, “Rav Huna son of Rav Yehoshua said: I am praiseworthy, for I have never walked four Amot (approximately six feet) with my head uncovered,” this does not follow the letter of the law; rather, this is a pious behavior that Rav Huna observed. Nevertheless, we have mentioned the opinion of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l that nowadays when a Kippa has become the symbol to distinguish between Torah-observant and non-religious Jews, wearing a Kippa is considered more than merely a pious custom.

Clearly though, when one is at home and has just woken up from his sleep or when one is at the beach in a place where people swim, one need not wear a Kippa according to the letter of the law. What is left to discuss is whether or not one must wear a Kippa on his head when reciting words of holiness according to the letter of the law.

The Baraita in Masechet Sofrim (Chapter 14, Halacha 15) states: “If one’s clothing is slightly torn or if one’s head is uncovered, one may read Keri’at Shema. Some say that only if one’s clothing is slightly torn may one recite Keri’at Shema; however, if one’s head is uncovered, one may not recite Keri’at Shema, for one may not utter the name of Hashem when one’s head is uncovered.” The Sages of the Baraita thus disagree whether or not one may recite a blessing or utter Hashem’s name when one’s head is bare. Maran Ha’Bet Yosef (Chapter 91) quotes Rabbeinu Yerocham who rules in accordance with the opinion that one may not recite a blessing when one’s head is uncovered. Maran rules likewise in his Shulchan Aruch (ibid).

We should point out that according to Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l, it is proper for women, both married and single, to cover their heads with something when they recite a blessing. This is especially true when they pray and recite Birkat Hamazon. There are several righteous women who actually behave in this manner.

The question therefore arises: Is placing one’s hand on one’s head sufficient in order to recite a blessing or does placing one’s hand on one’s head not help in this situation?

The Terumat Ha’Deshen (Chapter 10) rules that placing one’s hand on one’s head is not considered a head-covering, for the head and the body belong to the same body and the body cannot cover itself. Thus, one’s own hand cannot be considered a head-covering in this regard. Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch rules likewise. Nevertheless, he adds that based on the reasoning of the Terumat Ha’Deshen, if one covers another’s head with his hand, the other individual may, in fact, recite a blessing, for this hand is not a part of the same body as the head it is covering.

Summary: One who wishes to recite a blessing must cover his head with a head-covering, such as a Kippa or someone else’s hand. However, covering one’s head with one’s own hand is insufficient regarding this law and one may not recite a blessing in this manner.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of the Holiday of Sukkot

As per the request of many of our members and as a public service, we shall now list a synopsis of some laws which are essential for the upcoming Sukkot holiday: The Sukkah must be made of three walls and Sechach (the roof). The walls may be made of any material which can withstand a normal wi......

Read Halacha

A Father Who Absolves His Son from Honoring and Revering Him

The following discussion is crucial to understanding important laws regarding honoring one’s parents. In the previous Halachot, we have discussed some laws pertaining to honoring and revering one’s parents. There are certain laws that relate to a child’s obligation to honor his ......

Read Halacha

Calling One’s Father or Mother by Name

Question: May one call one’s father by his first name? Also, may one call a friend with the same name as one’s father by his first name? Answer: A child may not call his father or mother by their first name. For instance, if one’s father’s name is “Shmuel,” the......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Honoring and Revering One’s Parents

As was mentioned in the previous Halacha, the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents includes two different aspects: honoring one’s parents and revering one’s parents. Indeed, the Torah states, “Honor your father and mother” and “Each man shall fear his mother and fath......

Read Halacha


Cognac, Brandy, and Champagne- The Jews of the Ship that was Swept Out to Sea

In the previous Halacha we have explained the law that our Sages imposed a prohibition on a non-Jew’s wine and usually, the wine is not only forbidden to consume, it is likewise forbidden to benefit from. Champagne Clearly, champagne is absolutely forbidden for consumption if it was not pr......

Read Halacha

May a Son Disagree with His Father?

In the previous Halacha we have mentioned that a son or daughter may not contradict the words of their parents, for the Gemara (Kiddushin 31b) explains that included in the Mitzvah to revere one’s parents is not contradicting their words by saying that their words are incorrect. Regarding t......

Read Halacha

Introduction to the Laws of Honoring One’s Parents

Several years ago, we have discussed the laws of honoring one’s parents here at “Halacha Yomit. We will, G-d-willing, spend the next few days revisiting these laws along with some additions to what we have published in the past. The Importance of the Obligation to Honor One’s Pa......

Read Halacha

The Laws of a Jew Who is Not Shabbat-Observant Regarding Wine

In the previous Halachot we have discussed the enactment of our Sages that all non-Jewish wine or wine touched by a non-Jew is forbidden for consumption. There are instances where the wine will be forbidden to benefit from as well as we have discussed. A Non-Observant Jew Our Sages taught that a......

Read Halacha