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    When times become

    challenging, and anti-
    Semitism rears its

    ugly head in various
    parts of the world,
    Jewish individuals
    often choose to
    conceal their Jewish symbols to mitigate
    potential risks and avoid attacks. Let’s
    address a few questions and explore the
    guidance provided by Halacha on this matter.
    Let’s commence our discussion with the
    halacha (קנז סימן יו״ד (that whenever Jews
    face persecution and are compelled to violate
    any Jewish law or remove any Jewish sign,
    even if it pertains to a Jewish custom such as
    wearing specific shoelaces, they may not
    comply. Even if a non-Jew threatens to kill
    them for non-compliance, the halacha
    dictates that one should choose martyrdom
    rather than violate the minhag (יעבור ואל יהרג(.
    Accordingly, we can conclude that removing
    the Mezuzah or kipa in a place of danger
    should be prohibited. However, it is important
    to note that this obligation is primarily
    applicable in situations of persecution, where
    non-Jews attempt to force conversion or
    openly command violations of Jewish
    tradition. In a scenario where it is merely
    dangerous to be around non-Jews with these

    Jewish symbols, it is permitted to conceal
    Mezuzah Placement in High-Risk
    As the Mezuzah on the door is the most
    conspicuous indication that a Jewish
    individual resides in a house, in certain
    locations around the world, Jews have opted
    to remove the Mezuzah from their front
    doors. Is that permitted?
    The Halacha openly addresses a scenario
    where partners share a house, one being
    Jewish and the other a gentile. The Rema(סימן
    ס״א רפו (notes that such a house is exempt
    from having a Mezuzah. Among the reasons
    provided for this exemption, some
    suggest(ש״ך (that it is due to the potential
    danger that the gentile partner might suspect
    the Jewish partner of engaging in supernatural
    practices with the Mezuzah, potentially
    leading to harm against the Jew.
    The Meiri (א,יא יומא (explains that Hashem
    does not desire a person to expose themselves
    to danger and rely on miracles for the
    fulfillment of the Mitsvot. Similarly, it is
    written in the responsa “Chikrei Lev” (סימן
    קכט (that the Torah did not command the
    placement of a Mezuzah for the sake of
    potential harm. The Shach (סק״ז ש״ך (writes

    that throughout the exile
    the Jewish ghetto’s gates
    were exempt, as they

    were prone to non-
    Jewish hostility in those

    According to these
    considerations, there
    certainly would have
    been grounds to exempt
    the residences in a
    dangerous area to
    prevent harm to property
    and life. However, there
    is a distinction between the case discussed
    above and today’s situation. In a house shared
    with a non-Jew, it is not possible to affix a
    Mezuzah at all, as the non-Jew would see the
    Mezuzah both upon entering and exiting.
    Nevertheless, in a location where non-Jews
    only pass from the outside, one can place the
    Mezuzah in the inner part of the entrance,
    visible from within the house but not from
    outside. Even though our Sages established
    fixed its that) הובא בשולחן ערוך סימן רפט ס״ב)
    position should be within a handbreadth of
    the outside (החיצון טפח (to immediately
    encounter the Mezuzah upon entering, and to
    safeguard the entire house from harmful
    entities, this is merely an ideal practice, but
    in time of danger, one can place it more
    For those unable to affix the Mezuzah on
    the inner part of the entrance, an alternative
    is to carve into the doorpost and place the
    Mezuzah inside, concealing it from view.
    However, it’s crucial to note that the
    Mezuzah should not be deeper than a hand
    breadth(טפח (. While some poskim(הקטנה יד
    the if that contend) הובא בפת״ש סימן רפט
    Mezuzah is entirely invisible, one might
    not fulfill the obligation, as by placing the
    Mezuzah in a concealed manner, the
    intended purpose of the Mezuzah—to serve
    as a constant reminder of Hashem’s
    presence when entering or leaving the
    house (Rambam)—is compromised, as its
    visibility is crucial for fulfilling this
    function. Still the majority poskim assert
    that while it’s not the ideal way, the mitzvah
    בן איש חי ש״ב) .fulfilled considered still is
    (פרשת כי תבוא אות יד, ערוך השולחן
    Removing the Kipa in Vulnerable
    Another conspicuous sign of a man being
    Jewish is the kipa. In a place where one
    might fear for his safety, the best course of
    action is to wear a hat, as it will cover the
    kipa. But what should one do if he finds
    himself in a dangerous place without a hat?
    Should he remove the kipa? This becomes
    particularly relevant, for example, when
    driving from Brooklyn to Manhattan and,
    upon reaching the Brooklyn Bridge,
    encountering a large and violent Palestinian

    rally. In such a tumultuous situation, should
    he remove the kipa to avoid drawing attention
    to his Jewish identity?
    Let’s first explore the obligation to wear a
    kipa. The Talmud(ב,קנו שבת (states that
    covering the head aids a person in acquiring
    Yirat Shamayim—the fear of Hashem.
    (Rambam הלכות דעות פ״ה ה״ו ) Maimonides
    further elucidates that it is a manifestation of
    tsniut—modesty. The rationale is that when
    one wears a kipa, he senses a higher presence
    above him, prompting him to conduct himself
    with greater modesty and mindfulness of his
    actions compared to someone without a
    רמב״ם מורה נבוכים ח״ג פרק)reminder tangible
    . (נב
    (אגר״מ ח״ד ס״ב ויבי״א ח״ט ס״א) poskim Many
    maintain that according to the aforementioned
    opinions, wearing a kipa is considered a
    Midat Chasidut (חסידות מידת(, an act of piety,
    and stringency, but it is not deemed
    obligatory. However, the Taz (סק״ג ח סימן (

    notes that in contemporary times, as non-
    Jews often go without head coverings,

    wearing a kipa also serves to distinguish the
    Jewish nation from others (תלכו לא בחוקותיהם(.
    assert) יבי״א ח״ט ס״א) poskim Contemporary
    that today the obligation to wear a kipa is
    even more pronounced. It serves to delineate
    the distinction between God-fearing Jews
    who believe in Hashem and those who do
    not. In the present context, it becomes
    essential not to appear as someone who lacks
    fear of God.
    Returning to our discussion, Rabbi Moshe
    Feinstein was asked about someone seeking
    employment at a place where wearing a kipa
    would not be feasible. He responded that
    based on the poskim who consider wearing a
    kipa a stringency and not an obligation; one
    may go without head covering in a situation
    where finding alternative employment would
    be challenging. In light of this, it is certainly
    permissible in life-threatening situations not
    to place oneself at risk.
    Next week, we will continue, with Hashem’s
    help, the discussion on when one should
    consider a scenario dangerous and when one
    should not. We will also explore what one
    should do if asked directly about their Jewish
    identity in a perilous environment.