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Dec 15, 2008

Interesting Psak from Rav Elyashiv: Kipa over Tzitzis

Ladaat.net is reporting that the Israeli kiruv organization "Hidabrut", which specializes in kiruv via broadcasting shows about Judaism via a television station, went on a recent "Gedolim tour" visiting various gedolim to ask shailos and to describe their work and gain encouragement and support.

When they went to Rav Elyashiv they asked a shailoh about people in various, even advanced, stages of returning to religious Judaism, They asked when these people sometimes come to a stage where they want to take on one more thing, either to wear a kipa or to wear tzitzis, and they are not sure which to encourage as "the next step".

The question is based on the fact that the mitzva of tztitzis is a mitzva in the Torah, while kipa is not. on the other hand, the kipa is a much more prominent, and public, symbol of one's affiliation to Judaism, and the seforim say it brings one to fear of God.

So which is preferable?

Rav Elyashiv answered that despite the fact that tzitzis is a mitzva in the Torah and the kipa is not, the kipa is still preferable as as next step, if only one is going to be done at a time. The reason is because it arouses fera of God, it will encourage and enable the person wearing it to perform all the mitzvos sooner than if he would take on the mitzva of tzitzis. Specifically, according to the quotes from Rav Elyashiv, the nature of the Jew for many generations has been to wear a kipa. That will make him feel much more emotionally connected to Judaism than tzitzis will, and will effect his keeping all the mitzvos [more than tzitzis would].


  1. Tzitzit is only a mitzvah kiyumit also.
    I wonder what would be the answer if the question was kippa or Tefilin.

  2. a mitzva kiyumit is still higher than wearing a kipa which is not a mitzva at all, at best it is a minhag chassidut....

  3. Not so pashut. A kipa is an actual chiyuv bazman hazeh, at least according to the MB and other major achronim. When one is not waering a beged with arbah kanfos, they are not m'vatel anything by not wearing tzitzis, not even a minhag. But when one does not wear a kipa, they are m'vatel a minhag with status of chiyuv.

    Also, I don't understand your term "higher". Hachnasa Orchim is also a mitzvah d'oraisa. I don't think anyone would argue that is "higher" than wearing a kipa. If you are able to have orchim and your wife is up to it, you have. If not, not. You sure don't have to sell your kipa to buy chulent meat for more guests!


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