QUESTION: Is it necessary to provide a kippah for a more traditional deceased? Should this be added to the shrouds? (Esther Leibowitz, Miami FL)
ANSWER: Tradition has emphasized simplicity for funerals. Rabban Gamliel, who was wealthy, insisted that he be buried in only a linen shroud in order to set an example (M K 27b). Another scholar R. Hezkiah asked that the shrouds used for his burial be limited in number (J Kelaim 9.4). Linen shrouds, often eight in number came to be used (Shulhan Arukh Yoreh Deah 352; Tekushinsky Gesher Hayim Vol 1 p 102f). The number may have arisen under kabbalistic influence. Nothing was mentioned in these sources about a kippah. It was probably assumed that the entire body was wrapped in the shrouds and so the head was not left uncovered or visible. If the family feels more at ease by providing a kippah it should be done. It is, however, not necessary.