Headship, head coverings or both?
To wear a head covering or to not wear a head covering is quite often elevated to a very big question. Wherever I travel, it is always one of the top ten midrash subjects. Whether it be a kippah for the man or a veil for the woman, eventually this sometimes highly charged discussion will be brought up. Although I have treated this subject to some degree on audio material, I have decided to address it in more detail in this forum. I understand that this is a very serious subject to people on both sides of the issue, so I will try to keep any sarcasm at a minimum.
Most discussion of this subject eventually finds itself in the eleventh chapter of Paul's letter to the Corinthians. As a matter of fact, I have found the majority of treatises on this matter to be solely restricted to 1Corinthians 11:1-16. What I have chosen to do is to address much of the Middle-Eastern background of clothing and what the Torah has to say about it first before addressing each of those famous sixteen verses, one at a time. Now I may be cutting myself off at the pass by saying this, but I would like to begin by stating my view on this at the beginning. I believe that, although the wearing of a veil by women in our gatherings is not a commandment, it is, however, a well established, natural custom that ought to be practiced by those who follow the God of Israel. Now the rest of this teaching is for those who want to know why.
Let me begin by saying that there are very few instructions from our Creator as to specifically what His children were to wear or not wear. In the beginning they wore, well, nothing. This seemed to suit (pun intended) our paradise-crossed lovers for awhile. After blowing it, our ancient ancestors chose to cover themselves with leaves from trees. There were no other nasty males around so Chavah was not expected to pull a fig leaf down over her face. They lived in a biosphere of sorts, with no hot summers or frigid winters and so there was no reason to wear heavy animal skins yet, at least for keeping warm. A nice set of sheep skins however, was certainly in vogue by decree of the ultimate Designer. So, before the emergence of those 'outside' the immediate family, there was really no reason to burden the first family with any strict regulations or dress codes. We can assume, with reasonable evidence from other cultures, that the sons of Adam from Seth to Noach wore animal skins and were introduced at some point to linens, tunics, robes, silk, flax and sackcloth of sorts.
The first mention of a garment is when Shem and Japheth place a simelah, a complete covering, over their father in B'reshiyt 9:23. After the descendants of Noach's three sons began to spread out across the known world, we begin to hear quite a bit about garments and clothing. The variety of material and style is evidenced to us through pictography, hieroglyphics and other ancient documentation dating from the time of Noach. Every culture expressed much variety in men and womens apparel. Virtually all cultures, except a few I have seen in National Geographic, make a distinction between the apparel of men and the apparel of women. What people wore was also dependent upon the dominant weather conditions of the land they lived in. Many Middle-Eastern and African cultures wore a different kind of clothing than those who lived in predominantly colder climates. The clothing of the more Semitic cultures of the Hebrews, Arabs, and Egyptians was quite different than those of Cush and Put, or those of the Sinim (Orient), Magog, Tubal (Russia), or those of Tarshish or Kittim. In other words, the apparel of the descendants of Shem was different than the sons of Ham or Japheth. This is why I see a clear lack of specific Biblical commandments concerning how the children of YHVH are to don themselves. There is a specific commandment dealing with this subject and the principle behind it.
"The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto YHVH thy ’Elohiym.
I believe and teach that the reasons behind this commandment, as the children of Israel approach their time together in the wilderness, is the same reasoning behind no commandment for circumcision and disease until Abraham. The answer is entropy (corruption). I believe that all of the Torah is from the beginning and found in the opening letter bet and in the first word b'reshiyt and in the first seven words. I believe our Creator unrolls the Torah as entropy, the result of the garden, takes it's toll on all mass and matter. As civilization becomes more populated, complicated, and abstract, YHVH enters information (Torah) into the system (our fallen world) to sustain it. In the first book of Torah we have the story of families, patriarchs, matriarchs and children. The accounts of Noach, Abraham, Yitz'chak and Ya‘aqov. A less complicated environment, if you will, in which the people of God were not one homogeneous, massive group learning to live and work together in one place. As we move toward the Exodus we see YHVH preparing His people for their journey together as a nation. The word for the person Israel (Ya‘aqov) will now be used as an expression of a singular nation of God's firstborn coming out of the Passover. The contrast from this point will be the nation Israel (singular) as opposed to the nations (plural). The people of YHVH (Israel) will now be dwelling among the nations (gentiles). God, foreknowing this. has the Torah written in stone. The Torah becomes much more specific as He unrolls the scroll. Why? Because entropy is now going to get much more specific. Interrelations with the nations will now increase the corruption. As corruption increases, the need for Torah increases. This is true Biblically and scientifically. As entropy increases, the need to enter information into the system increases.
You might be asking, what has this got to do with head coverings? Well, the first part of my premise is that head coverings are a much later issue in the kingdom as society and interrelationships become more complex. Can we not see this in our own culture? The more our population increases, the more laws we pass. Why do we not have a recorded commandment concerning different clothing for men than women until Israel was about to enter the land? Entropy! The nation Israel will now be exposed to the ways of the nations. There will now be commandments concerning witchcraft, sorcery, harvesting the land, health issues, marriage, justice, celebrating, resting and differentiating between males and females. The Messiah might say that in the beginning it was not so. When there is less corruption there is less of a need for information. This is true agriculturally and biologically. The more corruption escalates, the greater need for someone greater than ourselves to take care of us.
Our next teaching will take the veil or the headcovering from the beginning and trace it's etymology and use in the beginning. Was Ribqah (Rebecca) donning a headcovering?