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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Question 9.17:
Why do people put their tallit over their heads when they pray?

Answer:

Normally, they don't cover their heads for the entire service. Typically, it is done just from Borechu through Shema, the Amidah, and the Chazan's repetition of the Amidah. These are the times at which talking is to be minimized. Even answering "amen" depends on where you're up to, and what blessing or Kaddish one is answering. Covering your head is a straightforward way to minimize distraction.

There is a second reason. The talmudic discussion of covering one's head when praying is a little vague. Some take it to mean that this is in /addition/ to the yarmulka. So, for many this is another reason to cover one's head during the most critical parts of prayer.


The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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