Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Fatherhood in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Honor Thy Mother and Father. Sure, fine, but what does that actually mean in practical everyday terms? This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study unpacks filial duty.
Why do Jews wear kippot? For men, the habit of covering their heads—when studying, eating, and praying, or else all the time, depending on their level of observance—is such a basic feature of Judaism that it seems like it must go back to the very beginning of the faith. Yet the fact is that covering one’s head is not mentioned at all in the Bible. The custom originates much later, in the Talmud, and even there it is not actually a law. It was in this week’s Daf Yomi reading, in Kiddushin 31a, that the origin of the kippa appeared: “Rav Huna, son of Rav Yehoshua, would not walk four cubits with an uncovered head. He said: The Divine Presence is above my head.” For Rav Huna, always keeping his head covered appears to have been an act of exceptional piety, or else the Talmud wouldn’t bother recording it. But it eventually became standard, and now Jews follow Rav Huna’s example.

The column title and my title above reflect the content of the rest of the column.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here (cf. here) and links.