Sunday, December 23, 2007
Kutshma Vs. Kasket
It's cold out, at least in my part of the world, and people are trying to keep warm. They say that the most important body part as far as keeping you warm is concerned is the head. Hence the sight of joggers wearing shorts in sub-zero temperatures; they're wearing warm hats and that's all they need. Even amongst Chassidim who are very Makpid on every aspect of the Levush and continue B'derech Avoiseynu still there's that need to keep warm, and the hard-brimmed hat doesn't cut, even with earmuffs. So, sometime years back the Kutshma was added to the allowed articles of clothing, although it was seemingly with certain restrictions. If you can't get a good picture of the kutshma in your head think Afghan President Hamid Karzai and that hat he wears.
(Man wearing Kutshma)
When I was growing up there was an unofficial rule about Kutshmas, namely that only men in their mid-30's and older could wear them; if you were younger you either froze your head off, had your hat fly around town, or wore those earmuffs with that darn string across your forehead. You just never saw a Frisher Yungerman wearing a Kutshma, although I'm not quite sure why. I guess creature comforts like warm head and ears are for older adults only. (The same could be said about the Homburg hat; you didn't see 20-somethings wearing them (except the Viener on Shabbos) and you definitely didn't wear it if you were a Bocher! ) Things have changed somewhat over the last generation; You now see Yungeleit in their 20's wearing Kutshmas as soon as the first cold weather hits, almost as if they were waiting for it and couldn't wait to change headgear. Maybe they're somewhat self-conscious of their everyday hat. Actually I know that some of them are, otherwise they'd never wear that awful-looking hat if they weren't forced too. Recently, the BaalBatishe ones have discovered the fur Kutshma, sort of what the guy in the first picture is wearing. I'm not sure what the idea is behind it; maybe it's supposed to match the wife's coat?
Which brings me to my dilemma.
I wear a kasket, like the one pictured here. I wear it all the time during the winter, besides for Shabbos obviously. I'm also quite self-conscious, I like it when I fit in somewhat, and I don't like to be the center of attention. It seems to me that I get much more attention than I should be with my Kasket. I get comments and looks from friends and acquaintances when they see me wearing it the first time, and I don't like that. I see young guys, some with Aroopgelozte Payos, many younger than me, wearing that blasted fur Kutshama with the foot high point and I wonder why. Why is it OK for him to wear what he wears but my Kasket- which is much more of a Yiddishe Levush, since Jews have been wearing them for over a century at least - that's not. The Kutshma is a recent invention, although in Yerushalayim they have a similar one which the "Toldos" wear. But that's a more rounded one, without the split and high point. So, if it's a recent levush why then are we allowed to wear it, and why is that considered more acceptable than the traditional Kasket?!
(The Kasket in question)
Some of the pictures of hats were provided by: Werner Cohn