Contradictions in Shulchan Aruch II

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By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

Is There an Obligation for a Man to cover his head?

In Shulchan Aruch OC 2:6, it says: “It is forbidden to walk in an upright posture and one must not walk four cubits with one’s head uncovered.”

This seems to imply that it is halachically forbidden for one to walk around bareheaded. So too, it appears that the prohibition of going bareheaded has nothing to do with prayer. He also seems to imply that it is halachically forbidden to ever be bareheaded in the Beit Yosef, OC 8.

On the other hand, in OC 91:3, the Shulchan Aruch writes: “Some say that it is forbidden to say God’s name with an uncovered head…And some say we should protest those who enter the synagogue with an uncovered head.” This seems to imply that a covered head is only required when reciting a blessing or prayer of some sort, and that there is no true requirement to cover one’s head at other times. This is also implied in OC 91:5, 6.

How do we reconcile this apparent contradiction?

This contradiction is noted by the Magen Avraham (OC 91:3) who writes that the Shulchan Aruch’s ruling in OC 2 is not a halachic requirement, but rather “middat chassidut”, a preferred practice for those who endeavor to be more pious. On the other hand, in OC 91, the Shulchan Aruch is discussing the actual halacha.

The Pri Megadim (E.A. 3, also cited in the Biur Halacha 91) suggests that the first ruling refers to those who walk more than four cubits, whereas the second ruling refers even to one standing in one place.

Normative halacha, however, requires one to cover one’s head at all times, (Taz, OC 8:3) unless extenuating circumstances require on to go bareheaded.

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And on to a similar topic:

What is the Status of one who Recited a Blessing with his Head Uncovered?

In OC 91:3, the Shulchan Aruch writes: “Some say that it is forbidden to mention God’s name with an uncovered head. Some say that one should protest those who enter synagogue bareheaded.” This seems to imply that it is preferable not to mention God’s name if one’s head is uncovered, though it is not truly forbidden.

On the other hand, in OC 206:3 the Shulchan Aruch writes: “Even if one is not naked but if ‘one’s heart sees one’s nakedness’ or one’s head is uncovered, it is forbidden to recite a blessing”. This clearly says that reciting a blessing with one’s head uncovered is completely forbidden.

Furthermore, in OC 91:5, the Shulchan Aruch writes: “One should not stand [to recite the Shemoneh Esrei] with one’s purse, nor with an uncovered head…”. This seems to imply that only reciting Shemoneh Esrei with an uncovered head is forbidden but that reciting other prayers bareheaded might be acceptable. Or perhaps “mentioning God’s name”, such as in the course of conversation, is acceptable but reciting it in the course of a blessing is forbidden?

How do we reconcile these contradictions?

…..accepting ideas!

 

 

 

 

About Ari Enkin

Rabbi Ari N. Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He is the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (8 volumes), Rabbinic Director of United with Israel and a RA"M at a number of yeshivot. www.rabbienkin.com

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