08 Jun Q & A WITH FOUNDER OF THE NEW BOBBY PIN GEMACH: RABBI MOISHE DOVID LEBOVITS
Name of Gemach: Bobby Pin Gemach Started: The Gemach started two weeks ago in time for the Busy Camp Sport Season, although we do plan on continuing this for Yeshivos in the upcoming School year iy”h.
Founder: Rabbi Moishe Dovid Lebovits from KOF-K Kosher Supervision/Author of Halachically Speaking & weekly columnist for The Jewish Vues
Gemach started: A Dear Friend of mine is in need of a Refuah Shleimah and I thought it would be a good time to start this project as a zechus for him.
Gemach based out of: Flatbush
Endorsed by: Being that we are looking to be mechazek children of all ages and even adults – it’s self endorsed.
Please tell everyone about your new exciting Bobby Pin Gemach.
I have been playing basketball ever since I was a small child from time to time. Many times you can see Jewish boys either taking their yarmulka off before the game begins or you can have yarmulkas falling on the floor all over the court. So much so that non- Jewish referees in some cases will stop the game to make sure the kids put their yarmulkas on their heads. If we can provide them with the bobby pins they will hopefully realize the value and importance of wearing a yarmulka when playing ball. My Rebbe, Harav Yisroel Belsky zt”l was very unhappy when he saw boys not playing with their yarmulka.
How did you come up with this fantastic idea?
It seems so simple, but it’s a great idea. I have been meaning to do this for a while. When I play basketball I use four bobby pins to make sure the yarmulka does not fall off and would bring extra bobby pins to the court to make sure others have as well. Before the summer when boys, young adults and men tend to play sports much more often, It is the perfect time to make sure we spread the awareness of playing ball with our yarmulka. What better way to provide them with the ability to keep their yarmulka on than by giving them bobby pins for each court in a fanny pack which can be attached to the basketball pole or placed in the sports equipment room in camp. I can’t tell you you how many people have told me when contacting them about this program that they are faced with this issue each Summer, and the boys either didn’t bring bobby pins with them to camp or left it in the bunk.
One might say that it’s better to take off your Yarmulke than to get it all sweaty playing sports. How do you answer that?
When we play sports we can use any Shemira that we can get. Playing with a yarmulka on your head is a tremendous zechus and taking it off shows a lightheaded attitude. If one feels that his yarmulka will be sweaty from playing let him have a special yarmulka for sports. I have many pairs of tzitzis that I have for when I exercise and play sports as well, since tzitzis can get rather sweaty during sports. Maybe that would a good idea for another project, but for now we will focus on this one :).
In general, what is the source of wearing a Yarmulke?
I don’t think most people know. The acronym of yarmulke is “yarei Malka” fear of the King, and is derived from the Polish word jarmulka which means “cap.” Other people use the term kippah, which means a dome. The Gemara in Shabbos (156b) says that wearing a yarmulke brings one to fear Hashem. The larger one’s yarmulke, the greater his yiras Shamayim. External actions can create internal awareness; wearing a symbolic, tangible head covering reinforces the idea that Hashem is always watching us. The Shechinah is above us, and therefore we may not uncover our heads. The yarmulke is a means to draw out one’s inner sense of respect for Hashem. Wearing a yarmulke humbles a person and also protects one from sinning. The Gemara (Shabbos 118b) relates that Rav Huna said, “May [a reward] come to me for I have never walked four amos without a head covering.” The Medrash says that one who is negligent with covering his hair brings sickness upon himself. The Aruch Ha’shulchan (O.C. 2:10) explains the concept of wearing a yarmulke in the following manner: the head is where the brain is, which is the source of wisdom and fear. One should not bare his head in front of Hashem since the whole world is filled with His honor. One who does not cover his head allows the yetzer hara to easily win over him. If one wishes to read all about yarmulkas I would refer you to my Halachically Speaking volume 3, chapter 2.
Speaking of bobby pins, is there an issue with wearing a yarmulke on Shabbos in a place that does not have an eiruv?
That is a good question. Since the bobby pin is attached to the hair and yarmulka it is not considered carrying on Shabbos. On the topic of yarmulkas, some have asked if there is an issue of a bobby pin being considered an item meant to be worn by women, and there is no issue at all as discussed in Rivevos Ephraim 5:40.
If someone wants free bobby pins from the gemach for their camp or yeshiva, how can they obtain them?
One who wishes to obtain bobby pins (or contribute to this project) should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-744-4360.
Have you been getting a good response to the gemach so far?
The response has been tremendous. We will iy”h be supplying many major Sleepaway Camps in the Catskills, so far, Camps Agudah, Aish, Dora Golding, Kayle, Romimu, Rayim, Morasha and Munk. As well as NCSY Summer Sports Camps. Day Camps in N.Y. we are supplying are Chaim Day Camp, Chazaq Summer Camp, Machane Yisroel – South Shore, Ruach Day Camp, Camp Yedidim, Simcha Day Camp as well as a few others. We sent product to Machane Miami, as well as a Yeshiva in Los Angeles, and Rochester NY. Day Camps in the Catskill which have joined are Camp Ruach (Twin Bridge), Fallsview Estates, Camp Kochavim (Grove Estates), and Tribeca Estates. We will be supplying Day Camps in Deal, Clifton and Piscataway NJ (STX Day Camp). In addition, we will be supplying BBA – Basketball League in Flatbush and Lakewood after the summer. From the initial response one can see the need for such a project is huge. This project has just gotten off the ground and Baruch Hashem people have responded tremendously. We are hopeful that many more Camps, and Yeshivos (once the school year begins anew) will eagerly allow us to provide this service to them. Our initial purchase was 40,000 bobby pins and based on the initial reaction we may have to restock very soon!
Is there anything else that you would like to mention that we did not discuss?
I wanted to thank the Jewish Vues for the opportunity to spread the word about this new project and hopefully this will lead to a greater awareness to wear a yarmulka especially when playing sports.