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Because of the ground which is cracked, for there hath been no rain in the land, the plowmen are ashamed, they cover their heads. The Vilna Gaon said one can make a berakhah without a kippah, since wearing a kippah is only an midos chassidus ("exemplary attribute").Recently, there has been an effort to suppress earlier sources that practiced this leniency, including erasing lenient responsa from newly published books.The 17th-century authority Rabbi David Ha Levi Segal (The "Taz") suggested that the reason was to distinguish Jews from their non-Jewish counterparts, especially while at prayer.He held that nowadays wearing a kippah is required by halacha.
Chaplain Arnold Resnicoff, wearing the makeshift "camouflage kippah" made for him by Catholic chaplain (Fr.) George Pucciarelli, after his Kippah became bloodied when it was used to wipe the face of a wounded Marine, Beirut, 1983 In Goldman v. Congress passed the Religious Apparel Amendment after a war story from the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing about the "camouflage kippah" of Jewish Navy Chaplain Arnold Resnicoff was read into the Congressional Record.Kitzur Shulchan Aruch cites a story from the Talmud (Shabbat 156b) about Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak who might have become a thief had his mother not saved him from this fate by insisting that he cover his head, which instilled in him the fear of God.The Talmud also implies that unmarried men did not wear a kippah: Rabbi Hisda praised Rabbi Hamnuna before Rabbi Huna as a great man. Thereupon, he [Rabbi Huna] turned his face away from him and said, 'See to it that you do not appear before me again before you are married.' [Tractate Kiddushin 29b] The Tanach implies that covering one's head was a sign of mourning: And David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went, and his head was covered and he walked barefoot.Most synagogues and Jewish funeral services keep a ready supply of kippot.and it is strongly suggested that a Jew is required to cover his head at all times.