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


Anonymous said...

In all honesty, you have to tell the silly world you're dart of to shove it. There are things I don't agree with here in my neck of the woods and I just dont buy into it.

Anonymous said...

Yasher keyach Hirshel. Good post.

I don't know if am missing something here, but the hat pictured ("The Kasket in question") doesn't look like the old kaskets of years ago. It looks like a modern cap. Maybe that is part of the problem (though not all of it).

Could you not find one of the older type ?

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...


that's the best I could do, but I think it's pretty close. It's not like the more modern ones; the ones that are more stiff and have no real bill. This one does.

Aderaba, I'd wear a more authentic one if I could get one. I don't mean the "Greek fisherman" cap, that's no good either.

Anonymous said...

I thought that u were a real lub with a Borsalino

Anonymous said...

I think many Chasidim rough it with the regular Fedoras being that that is what the Rebbe did even on the long winter days at the Ohel (before the temp. conrolled room ).

Mottel said...

For warmth go for the ushanka , for practicality stick with your kasket.

Anonymous said...

I think the question of allowing the kutchmas should be the subject of a major beis din investigation, like a joint session of moetzes gdolei hatora and hisachdus harabonim

Anonymous said...

What a silly and immature post.
Do you write this for the yeshiva k'tana boys or do you actually think this nonsense would interest anybody with half a brain?

Anonymous said...


If you can't handle a light moment, and you absolutely need your daily fix of the latest scandal, please feel free to stick to the other blogs. But do us a favor and don't blame it on intelligence and brains.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...


I couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

your writing about Lvush Bderech Avoseinu is like the reform jew talks about gefilte fish,the maskilim from yester year coinned their Shita into the slogan be a jew in your house and a mentsch in the street the next jeneration setteled for being a jew only their hearts, the slogan of the bal shem tov (see Meor Einiym Margele Befimei Habashat) Vsertem Vavdetem if you change only slightly
you are going to go all the way....,Since you converted to lubavitch which refrased the maskelishe slogan into Chabad Mont Penimiyos the averege lubavitcher kid implies from it(i heard it from them many times) we dont stress chiztioneyes, all your talk about derech avoseini for chitioneyes is gerse deyankese that your kids wont even hear about it, the same way that you dont know that Bash"t chazert with his talmidim not to step stem away one bit because it will lead to be oived avode zura

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

1) how do you know what my kids door don't hear from me?

2) I guess you consider a 3 day beard with a shtraymel like the cool ones today Derech Avoisaynee? I guess that's the result of all that talk about Levush?

The point is that you're applying your childish notions to me and my group. That's sad.

Anonymous said...

Hirshel this is the best posting EVER I Mean EVER, just in time for xmas couden't ask for more or better.

zei gezunt un shtark

Anonymous said...

Yedidi hayakar ,
I wear the same cap you do on weekdays for the last 40 years (of
course once in a while I change the cap, my last one was stolen by arelim )
But this is not a kasket , check out the caps the Chafetz chaim , Reb
Simcha Zelig Riger, Reb Mendel Futterfass etc or the son of the
Bobroisker wera and you will see the difference, but I agre e that in
unzer zayt its close enough.
Next I too layder do not have the self confidence to wear it on
Shabbes. After all in Russia this too was the Shabbes dress.
the Rayaatz wore this on Shabbes before becoming rebbe and all
Chassidim did. Did Reb mendel or Reb Chen put on a Hungarian
rabbonishce hut on Shabbes !!!
By not wearing it on Shabbes you and I are mode bimikzas we are
really undermining our case for the kasket as the authentic hat of
Lubavitch and Russian Jews. Lets wear it on Shabbes and be machzir
atore liyoshna. Did you see in the sefer of Reb israel Jacobson what
he quotes Reb Nissan as saying when they switched hats in Poking in 1945-46 ?
Next one can purchase a much more "legitimate" kasket ie a cap that
looks more like a kasket than what we wear. I have at least 4-5 of
them. Firstly the stores URBAN OUTFITTERS usually carry caps that
look like kaskets with the brim vechuli. They are not always in
stock. I have several of them in black. There is also a Kangol cap
that is mamash like a kasket years ago I bought it in Tel Aviv and
my late father a'h seized it and told me he ws unhappy that I wear it
(later I found out that it reminded him of his father who was
murdered by bandits in Kurenitz prior to the Holocaust) and my
father wore it himself ! He even wore it on Shabbes, having gone
through 5 years of Concentration camps my father cared little about
public approval) I just bought one a few years ago in the west
Village in Black. I do not wear it because of hakpodah from my late father .
The Mao cap sold very cheaply in several stores in China town is also
very very like a kasket. It comes in various colors including green
Reb Duchman in Lashame Ozen describes the rayaatz as wearing a green
hat in a visit in Warsaw !) You can get one for under $5- Also i see
on line that Berkley hat co a wonderful store in Berkley CA
sells fiddler caps ie Greek caps without the designs etc that again
are close to kasketen.
So lomir nit bleiebn baim reiden und machzir zayn die emesdike
Yiddehe leviush
yasher koach and keep warm (as jews inEurope were not makpid over
levush I talked to many old time galitzianer, Litvishe and
Peylishe yidden und gutte yidden and when levush came up they
laughed at me we wore what we had and the pictures prove their point.

The Bray of Fundie said...


That's just the point. I think that when his co-workers see HT in his winter gear instead of the traditional Chabad tricorn they suspect that he's trying to hide his identity.

IIRC in Bais Brisk (I mean actual biological Soloveitchiks) in Yerushalayim the Bochurim wear the traditional European kasket from about age 6 till a few years after Bar-Mitzvah.

HT I eagerly anticipate a companion post in July advocating for the return of the Panama Hat.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...


hiding my Lubavitcher identity, eh? In truth I look more like a Chaim Berliner than a Lubavitcher, so there. In the summer most businesspeople do away with headgear completely, since they don't have the winter "excuse." However, I'd advocate a lightweight Kasket, not the Panama Hat like the 5Towners love to wear.

The Bray of Fundie said...

check out my new post b'vakasha;

Anonymous said...

Hey, I like the Panama Hat idea! I'm gonna go git me one!

Mottel said...

The hat you wear, l'hoir is a flat cap

The Bray of Fundie said...

One thing that's always bothered me about the Kutshmas is the nasty "cuff" look. If you wasnt to hair one take your cue from the mink wearing fashionistas or the Prez of Afghanistan. They go cuffless.

Anonymous said...

You don't like the kutchmas? Easy-peasy!


"I heard there's a shayla about avoideh zoura with them."

"Al pi kabbola you shouldn't wear something from a treife animal on your head."

"The Rouv says that back in der heim all the maskilim wore them."

"The factory that makes them is owned by a Modern Orthodox who hates frimmers."

Spread them far! Make up your own!

Anonymous said...


What's takeh the deal with all the trimmed beard and the shtreymels these days? It's all so acceptable...when I grew up a guy wearing trimmed beard didn't wear a shtreymel.. just didn't make sense....

Anonymous said...

kutshma trivia; the first ever godol in a kutshma is....

if you guessed reb matisyahu solomon on his visit to kiev, then you won!

Anonymous said...


It's aliyas hadoiros. Even trimmed bearded untermenschen wear shtreymelech these days.

Anonymous said...

These hats aren't exactly kutchmes. Kutchme is a russian style hat. These are called "papakhes". I wonder why someone thinks this is a new zach. He probably never tasted what Russian winter is.

Some samples of papaches used by chasidim in Russia:

Reb Avrohom Shternhartz ztz"l (1930-ies).

Yidden in Shepetovka (1920)

Simple working Yidden (somewhere Ukraine, 1910-ies).

About your kasket. Why don't you get something similar to Reb Mendl's? At least it will look more authentic ;)
(That's "A Yid" from older posts. Just using my LJ Id here).

Anonymous said...

Also, I wonder why for bochurim it is "considered" OK to freeze half to death, and for yungelayt it is permitted to use warm hats.