To discuss issues relevant to the large and growing world of young Frum families and singles who are fully engaged in the Olam HaTorah and Olam HaZeh. You take your career, learning, family (or dating) and play seriously (not necessarily in that order.) You are nervous about the anti-intellectual trends that you see in your community while being proud of being part of the Torah renaissance in our generation.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Missing the forest for trees - hats and jackets

It is interesting to watch how people dress in the summer for davening. For me it is (unfortunately) simple. I don't have the proper respect for davening so I wear casual clothes to minyan. Cotton Dockers, cotton shirts, etc. Since my work is 24 X 7 casual, and I don't want to change from formal to casual before going to work, I end up davening in clothes that are not appropriate for standing in front of Hashem. But for others it is more interesting. The halacha says that you need to wear a hat and jacket for davening. Period. End of Story. So no matter what else you are wearing, in addition you must add a hat and jacket. It does not matter if the hat or jacket are worn out or stained. It does not matter that they don't match. It does not matter that no one in their right mind would wear a suit jacket with a pair of khakis and sneakers - since the halacha says you must wear a hat and jacket, on they go. This is a good example of how (well meaning) Jews sometimes lose the forest for the trees. True the halacha says to wear a hat and jacket, but it is not a 'Chok' written in the Torah which we follow blindly. It is not an 'objective' halacha (like Tzizis) but is 'subjective'. It is in application of the concept of 'Hachon Likros Elokecha Yisroel' and/or 'Hakreiv Na Lepchasecha' (pardon the wrong pronunciation.) That you should prepare yourself properly before coming before the Almighty as you would before an Earthly king. When this halacha was written, the proper dignified dress was in a hat and jacket ... that matched the dress pants and shoes as well. But now it is treated by many as a 'chok'. You must wear the jacket and hat in and of itself - regardless of what else you are wearing. So it is much better to dress casual from head to toe then to 'mix and match' in a manner that you would never do if you where meeting someone important.


  • At 7/15/2005 11:32 AM, Anonymous Moshe said…

    Funny was just having a discussion about this on the very day you posted..

  • At 7/19/2005 12:57 PM, Blogger J said…

    What was your take?


  • At 7/21/2005 5:45 AM, Anonymous NN said…

    Interesting. I have been thinking about this recently.

    I find it offensive when in some shuls a guest makes a fuss about a sheliach tzibbur not wearing the required hat and jacket, when the halacha is what I (in my humble opinion) would describe as sociological, as are many other halachot. If one doesn't like what is going on that shul, the guest should go elsewhere.

    Also, this 'halacha' has crept into other areas, such as giving of shiurim or sermons - even on the hottest days.

  • At 7/24/2005 6:18 PM, Anonymous daat y said…

    great post.
    In Israel you would see the king or prime minister without coat or hat yet chareidim still wear coat and hat.

  • At 7/25/2005 10:31 PM, Blogger J said…

    nn/daat y
    good point. It is definitely sociological. Which explains the phenomena described by daat y. Chareidim where hats and jackets all year round for the same seemingly illogical reason college kids where shorts all year round - because all groups have a uniform and this is their uniform. (When i went to college after many years in Yeshiva i was stunned at the fact that college kids wore shorts in the winter! I was all bundled up and they where wearing shorts! Go figure:)

  • At 7/31/2005 4:11 PM, Anonymous OnTheFence said…

    just one small correction.

    it is so, because it is not an HALACHA, it is a MINHAG and our world would be better if LO TIGNOV was a MINHAG rathen then one of the 10 Dibrot

  • At 8/03/2005 11:57 AM, Blogger J said…

    Correct! Your statement was attributed to the Kotzker Rebbe.

    BTW, what are you On The Fence about? Inquiring Minds Want to know!


  • At 11/24/2005 5:38 PM, Anonymous Moshe said…

    j I was appalled by a certain Rabbi from YU's take on the Chassidic practice of wearing a jacket during davening. While it is quite possible that the spirit of this law may be followed through other means, it does not justify ridiculing those who apply it literally.

  • At 11/29/2005 8:58 PM, Blogger J said…

    I don't know who in yu u r referring to nor do i know his actual comments.
    Point here is that is is a bit bizzare when we turn halachik 'means' and make them 'ends'. It shows a lack of thinking, i believe, on the part of the practioner.
    THe 'end' is to show kavod to HKBH while we are davening by appearing before him as we would before a physical king. The 'means' are sometimes wearing a jacket. When we make the wearing of the jacket into the mitzvah, the results can be bizarre - as when someone wears a jacket with a pair of shorts or sweat pants because 'you have to daven with a jacket'. It looks ludicrous and is accomplishing the exact opposite of what the actual mitzvah is (to appear before Hashem as you would before a melech).

  • At 3/12/2006 10:00 PM, Blogger Glunker said…

    This comment was once on my blog. It still needs some revising.

    Is wearing a hat a halacha?
    If you ask most black-hat wearing kids, they'll insist it is, but most rebbeim in yeshivas admit it's not. They still insist on it being worn, I guess for political reasons. Once, I forgot my hat at an in-shabbos and someone (who had went to Brisk) told me to go get it. I said I don't carry in NYC streets so he made me get someone to carry a key so i could go get my hat. Many Briskers don't even were Tzitzith, a mitzvah chamura, on shabbos because of the fear that maybe it's not really a beged and so maybe it will be like they're carrying! In addition, I missed Krias HaTorah by Mincha, something R' Chayim may have even said is a chiyuv even on a yachid! How could hat-wearing, which isn't exactly a mitzvah chamura (or even a mitzvah or a chiyuv or anything) be worth making someone actually carry,* and miss Krias HaTorah?!
    I was once at a house where people are required to take off their shoes when they enter. We made a mincha minyan there, and I was the only person who put on my shoes. There were even two people there who came in a hat, but took off their shoes. They wore a hat, but not shoes which there is an actual halacha to wear by davening! It's all black-hattiness, not halacha.

    The mishna berurah (if i remember correctly) states one should wear a hat when davening since that's what one would wear when appearing before a king. Nowadays, when one wouldn't wear a hat in front of a king**, he obviously shouldn't need to wear a hat when davening (Just like he doesn't need to were a turban or gartel***).
    Some people say you're supposed to wear a double-covering when davening, but this is definitely not a halacha; I think it might be some kabbalistic thing, if anything.
    Another reason given is wearing a hat is a minhag, and minhagim are important. But wait one second. Why's it a minhag? Because it used to be what people wore, some Jews just didn't stop. The minhag (or halacha) isn't to wear a hat, it's to wear what one would wear in front of a king. It used to be a robe and turban, now it's a suit and tie. To claim there's a special black-hat minhag isn't accurate, it's just some people didn't stop wearing what they had.

    The only real claim that can be made is that a hat is a uniform to show that the wearer is different then the surrounding gentile society. This can only be claimed by those who go everywhere in a black hat, and don't just wear it for davening. Also I wonder if they're trying to separate themselves from gentiles or maybe just from other Jews? Once, a kid didn't want to wear a hat and his mother said "You have to, our type wears a hat." Clearly, she wanted him to show he belonged to the black-hat Jews, and not the modern ones. That is not a good thing.

    *Correction: I had said ("i guess he feels wearing a hat is doche shabbos..") telling someone to carry for you is non-halachic since telling someone to open bottles for you is assur, i assumed it was the same. But if not carrying is just a chumra then you would be able to tell people to carry for you. (Of course it might not just be a chumra, in fact some hold its d'oraysa, but that could be for another post.)

    **The worst is by shacharis. People wear their jacket buttoned under one arm or just half-off and they wear their hat way back, it looks absolutely ridiculous. They should go to a job interview or bussiness meeting like that before saying it's appropiate to wear in front of the King.

    ***the reason some people wear a gartel can't be to provide a separation, since they're already wearing many separations. I heard the reason is because a gartel used to be what one would wear in front of a king.

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