Yarmukle rules

I saw a short clip on the news, in passing, that showed a Jewish school in Iran. They were talking about the recent kafuffle in Iran regarding the holocaust and the clip of the school was showing how kids there have to say the Iranian pledge of allegiance every morning, along with whatever else they recite daily.

I noticed in the clip that only some of the kids - all boys - were wearing yarmulkes. In part of the clip, during the recitation of something (not sure if it was the Iranian pledge or some other daily recitation) some of the boys had their hands on the heads of the boys in front of them. This was made possible by the kids all being lined up.

I’m curious as to whether or not the kids were just fooling around, or if there’s something that requires them to cover your neighbor’s head with your hand during a prayer and if so, why not just cover your own head with your hand?

And why would or wouldn’t all the boys at a Jewish school be wearing a yarmukle when at school or at least when doing daily recitations? What exactly are the “rules” for wearing them?

In Jewish tradition, for Torah-based reasons, males (boys and men) are obliged to wear head covering --the yarmulkeh if not a hat, cap, toque, or other headwear – whenever dressed. (There are obvious exceptions – showering, swimming, in bed – but being fully dressed includes the covering of the head.) One of the Jewish dopers can explain why.

As for the hand-on-other-boy’s-head, I have no idea why. WAGs: it’s a symbol of solidarity in Jewishness as members of a minority living among more-or-less-hostile neighbors? It’s a means of conveying God’s blessing, each acting as minister of it to the next boy?

Actually, it’s not one of the 613 mitzvot in the Torah- it’s a custom that is very widely observed, especially among Orthodox Ashkenazic Jews.


Because your hand is still part of the same body as your head, and a body can’t be its own cover. So the tradition of head-covering is not served by using one’s own hand in the absence of the yarmulka.

So am I right in thinking that the boys were covering eachothers’ heads for religious purposes and not just for goofing around? I assume the purpose would be to have one’s head covered during a head-cover-requiring event (prayer) without having a yarmukle.

Polycarp ok so you’re obliged to wear head coverings when dressed. Is that it? Doesn’t matter where you are (church, school, someone’s house, etc)? Is there a set of rules that one group might follow - such as some guys cover their heads when dressed, some only in X places, and some not at all?

Just wondering why only some of the boys had their heads covered and others not.

I know nothing about Judaism as it is practiced in Iran, but in the US the answer would definitely be yes. Conservative Jewish men wear head coverings only when in the synagogue or when saying blessings or prayers. Wearing a head covering used to be discouraged in Reform temples, but now I think it is optional and possibly encouraged at some.

Jews are supposed to cover their heads while praying. To keep your head covered when you’re not praying is a symbol of piety, but generally isn’t considered required.