hair covering and married women

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  • #598478

    Yaela
    Member

    I am posing this topic because I am confused about it myself. I have been married 3 years and currently cover my head out of the house, but not all of my hair. I sometimes wear a hat with my hair down. My community is very mixed. Some women cover their hair like me, some cover it all the way and others don’t cover their heads at all.

    I really dislike covering my hair but my husband really appreciates it. The problem for me is, I have a hard time believing that Hashem really cares about it. It’s taken from Parshat Sotah and inferred from that. It’s not stated outright.

    In addition, many women now wear sheitels. So many of them look so real that I can’t even tell if they’re wearing one. What is the point of covering your hair with someone else’s hair? Altough I wear a fall on occasion, I do think it’s quite strange. Most wigs today look better than a woman’s actual hair.

    I wish I could de-confuse myself. My mother didn’t cover her hair, my grandmothers didn’t either, my aunts didn’t either. My sister does and my cousin does.

    Rabbi Soloveitchik’s wife didn’t even cover her hair. So many women a generation ago didn’t cover their hair. It seems like it has come back in vogue.

    What are your thoughts on the topic?

    #816420

    MeemaYehudis
    Member

    If I’m not mistaken, Rebbitzen Soloveitchik did cover her hair in public.

    The fact that a good shaitel often looks better than one’s own hair is irrelevant – thre is no inyan that a woman shouldn’t look attractive. The issue is one’s own lliving hair, which is sensuous. Rabbi Soloveitchik absolutely said that married women were required to cover their hair in public.

    There are many nice ways to cover your hair – be creative, and think positively about it, and hopefully it will become more pleasant for you.

    #816421

    yitayningwut
    Participant

    The halacha says that a woman is required to cover her hair. You are right that it is inferred from the parsha of sotah, but if you are familiar with the way halacha works, many things are not stated outright, but there is a system of drashos which the early rabbis used to derive laws from the Torah, and that system is part of the oral tradition which we believe was transmitted to Moshe along with the written Torah. Therefore, technically speaking, anything derived through that system will generally have the status of being derived directly from the Torah.

    It is commonly said that women must cover their heads because it is not tznius, etc. I do not believe this to be so, or at least the primary reason. We don’t generally qualify laws derived from the Torah with reasons, because at the end of the day, since it wasn’t something enacted by the rabbis, any reason we give would be pure speculation, as God didn’t tell us his reason. What we can do, is look at the halacha from a legal perspective, figure out all of the technical details and loopholes, and then, after all that, we see the overall picture and think to ourselves, how can we find personal meaning in this halacha? But this has to come after the halacha is established with all its technicalities, not before, because how can we allow ourselves to be biased by a reason that is pure speculation?

    Why some of the wives of great people didn’t cover their hair, is a good question. Maybe since everyone was doing it, the rabbis decided to pick their battles and just keep quiet about this. I don’t really have a definitive answer, but the halacha is still clear, from the Gemara down to the Shulchan Aruch, that women are required to cover their heads when they leave the house. Inside the house is a different story, and may quite possibly be permitted.

    As an aside, I am not a rav and this is not a psak, but from my understanding of the halacha your method of covering your head is fine.

    #816422

    aries2756
    Participant

    Yaela, maybe I can help you understand it from a purely aesthetic perspective. Maybe the reason that sheitels look so natural and beautiful is to encourage women to cover their hair and not hesitate to do the mitzvah. Even when I first got married 36 years ago, my sheital macher was doing her best to make my sheitel look as natural and as much as my own hair as possible. This was to make me feel comfortable wearing a sheitel and not feel awkward at work. Every year the sheitels look and feel more and more natural and every year more and more young women are choosing to cover their hair. Just as you said, your mother didn’t, her mother didn’t but your sister does, and you do partially and are thinking more about it. With such beautiful and comfortable options available it makes the choice more palatable.

    Yaela, when I was a young bride, going to the mikvah was so awkward and uncomfortable. Well we have come a long way baby. Today mikvahs are like spas, clean and gorgeous catering to the needs of the women. They try to make the mitzvah as welcoming and comfortable as possible. The point is understanding that the mitzvos women have to do are not so easy for all women and women should feel proud and happy to do them.

    If you put a shmate on your head that makes you feel uncomfortable why would you choose to cover your hair? Yes it is the rule and yes it makes your husband happy. But if you are not happy doing it, how will that play out in your shalom bayis? But if you can do the mitzvah happily and proudly with a beautiful sheitel and feel good about yourself, feel comfortable in it then eventually you will be doing it for yourself and not just to make your husband happy. How much more will your husband be happy, proud, respect, appreciate and admire you for you performing the mitzvah for yourself?

    #816423

    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    yitay, that Tznius Vort is not really the case. Se’ar Ba’isha Erva. It might be a Chiddush that we wouldn’t have said on our own, but it’s not Para Aduma. We also learn it from Shir Hashirim.

    #816424

    yitayningwut
    Participant

    HaLeiVi-

    I disagree, and have written extensively about this on past threads.

    If you really want we can get into this, again, but just for reference, here is some of what I have once written about the connection between this halacha and sa’ar b’isha ervah:

    ???? ???? ?? ??? ????, ???? ??? ??? ??????, ????? ??? ???? ???? ????? ????? ???. ??????? ??? ???? ??? ???? ????? ?? ???? ??? ???? ????, ??”? ???? ???? ?????????? ???? ???? ???, ??? ??????? ??????. ???? ???”? ?????? ???? ?? ?? ????? ???? ???? ??? ??? ???? ???? ???, ??? ????? ?? ??? ???? ??? ???? ???? ??? ????? ??? ?? ????. ???? ??”? ???? ?? ????? ?? ??? ????? ??? ???? ???? ????? ???? ??? ???????? ???? ??? ???????. ??? ???? ????? ???? ????? ???? ????.

    And in regard to the “drasha” from Shir Hashirim:

    ?????? ????’ ????? ???? ??? ??? ?????, ???? ?? ???? ?’ ??? ??? ???? ???? ????? (??”? ?:?) [???? ?????]

    (The second paragraph is supposed to be a footnote from the asterisk in the first, my computer just isn’t letting me do it right.)

    #816425

    yitayningwut
    Participant

    That short list of poskim at the end were citations of shitos that say more or less that “ervah” described in that Gemara in Berachos is subject to societal norms.

    One more thing. Sa’ar b’isha ervah is not some obscure Tosefta somewhere. Therefore if it were true that the halacha we are discussing is an outgrowth of that, I would expect it to be noted in the rishonim. Can you show me even one rishon who says so?

    #816426

    Feif Un
    Participant

    In Europe, it’s true that there were many women who didn’t cover their hair. That was another mitzva that was overlooked there, along with shatnez and some others. That doesn’t mean it was ok.

    I heard from a reliable source that when R’ Aharon Kotler came to the US, his wife didn’t cover her hair either. She started doing it after they moved to Lakewood, when R’ Aharon asked her to.

    There were many things that were overlooked in past generations. Our observance of mitzvos has grown.

    #816427

    Stamper
    Member

    Rebtz. Kotler *always* covered her hair.

    #816428

    Yaela
    Member

    Yita..if ervah is relative to societal norms how can we determine what is/isn’t ervah when we live in a time where exposing oneself is natural and expected?

    In my community there is no expectation of covering hair but it is common as well.

    #816429

    welldressed007
    Participant

    Yaela:

    The Torah is perfect, we are not. When our time comes for a din and cheshbon the only question we are asked by the Ribono shel olam is why we did not fulfill our obligations. Each of us are fully and totally responsible for our actions. Covering one’s hair in addition is a constant reminder like the the yarmulke, we are so much and H-shem is the rest, in addition the request from H-shem is for one to be modest, display of a woman’s hair is considered part of her beauty which is meant only for the pleasure of her husband and no one else. Serving H-shem is a privilege and not an obligation, Torah is a way of life not a religion. You are covering your hair for yourself and derech agav your hubbie.

    Good luck in your avenue of pursuit of your feelings and

    Torah obligations.

    #816430

    am yisrael chai
    Participant

    Yaela

    You are doing an admirable thing by covering at least to some extent while trying to make sense of what you are doing.

    You write that “It’s taken from Parshat Sotah and inferred from that. It’s not stated outright.”

    Consider for a moment: You wouldn’t consider keeping kosher any differently, yet the only thing written in the chumash (actually, several times) is ?? ??????? ??? ???? ???. That’s it.

    So it is quite clear that we can’t just go by ???? ?????, but we need ???? ???? ?? also.

    I had a wise teacher in yeshiva who would say, “Ask away all your questions, but do what needs to be done in the meantime. And even if you don’t get your answers, do it anyway!”

    #816431

    RABBAIM
    Participant

    Rebbetzin Soloveitchik had a scalp medical problem which made it medically inadvisable to cover her hair.It was not a disregard for Halacha

    #816432

    yitayningwut
    Participant

    Yaela-

    The poskim who hold that ervah is subject to societal norms would say that whatever is provocative when uncovered is called ervah. But as I said, the halacha you brought up is not an outgrowth of the ervah halacha.

    #816433

    yichusdik
    Participant

    If it is permitted I would like to shift the discussion a tiny bit. It is clear that from almost all halachic perspectives some kind of hair covering is an obligation. Whether it is a wig, a hat, a kerchief, that is detail. Hair covering is incumbent. Like many other mitzvos, many of us are or were less than perfect in observance of it.

    What I don’t get is the perspective derived from this that says if a married woman doesn’t cover her hair all the time she isn’t to be considered frum, her kashrus is not to be trusted, her kids are not to be played with, and her contributions to the wellbeing of the community are to be diminished, downplayed, or ignored.

    Unfortunately, I have seen this happen. Women who have been the pillars and foundations of local chevra kadishas – for all, from the frummest to the least observant – for decades; women who have been moser nefesh for yeshivas and social services within the frum and broader Jewish community; women who have founded and run chesed organizations with no expectation of reward or recognition – these women have been marginalized in recent years because, in large part, they have not always covered their hair.

    I have to ask – do we do this kind of cheshbon on those who are less than perfect in observing other mitzvos, in business, in bein odom lechaveiro? DO we investigate whether those we interact with observe shatnez k’das v’din, an issur gomur mideoraiso?

    Can we recognize these women for the pillars of many communities that they are, even if they don’t measure up to halachic standards on this issue?

    #816434

    Toi
    Participant

    k great but where do you draw the linbe

    #816435

    yitayningwut
    Participant

    yichusdik-

    While you make a good point, people are not as narrow-minded as you think. It’s not just politics. The fact is that someone who is lax in some areas of issur v’heter is more likely to be lax in other areas of issur v’heter than someone who is lax in hilchos bein adam l’chaveiro. It’s not about ostracizing good people. It’s about pragmatism.

    #816436

    yichusdik
    Participant

    I wish you were right YIT. Unfortunately I have heard the same people who depend on these women to do a tahara on their niftaros, and do it with skill and expertise and knowledge of halacha, say they can’t or won’t eat at the house of these women, some of whom were the founders of the schools, shuls or even communities they live in. To me, it smacks more of laziness than narrow mindedness. Balabatim who have serious issues with halacha in business dealings aren’t scrutinized, but since you can see if a woman is wearing a hat or not, you can presume on her kashrus observance or lack thereof.

    What I am saying is that presumption – especially when we are talking about marbitzos torah, or gmilei chesed, or the like – is a real shame, and the resulting embarrassment, which I have seen with my own eyes, is, we are told, like murder.

    #816438

    Toi
    Participant

    the gemara in gittin says a man can divorce w/o a kesuba if she wont cover her hair. maybe your right about the faults in communities; that doesnt take away from the seriousness of what these women are doing wrong.even though mumar li’not covering hair isnt mumar likol hatorah kulah, there could still be a valid personal feeling of mistrust. someone doing something else wrong, worse or nor, doesnt take away from the choimer hu’issur.

    #816439

    You mentioned that Rav Soloveitchik’s wife didn’t cover her hair. RABBAIM said that she had a medical condition which prevented her from doing so. What I do know is that Rav Soloveitchik held that women are obligated to cover their hair.

    The Rav Thinking Aloud, page 113:

    DH: What is the heter for a married woman in her house not to cover her hair when there are outsiders present?

    RYBS: She has to cover her hair.


    DH: Someone was asking about a woman wearing a kisui rosh in the house.

    RYBS: We pasken you should.

    DH: Someone showed me a gemara in Kesubos that b’toch chatzeira it should be mutar, since otherwise there is no way any woman could remain tachas ba’alah (72b). Offhand it occurred to me that if it was lo shechichei inshei – just for going around the house when no one’s around, and someone just may drop in – then it would be mutar. But if you have people coming over b’kevius, then why would it be any different than going aroung in the street? Is there a special din in the bayis that there’s no din of covering your head anymore?

    DH: Is this kisui ervah like most kisui ervah?

    RYBS: Of course.

    DH: What should I do for myself, for my wife?

    RYBS: You will find out.

    #816440

    ItcheSrulik
    Member

    Stamper: She didn’t. I have this from someone who learned with R’ Ahron weekly in his apartment when he still lived in Manhattan.

    OVKTD: That last “you will find out,” is a great example of 5th chelek.

    #816441

    Stamper
    Member

    ItcheSrulik: She always did. First hand knowledge. (Also, if it weren’t the case, that would have been well known.)

    #816442

    happiest
    Member

    A random hair covering question. I was noticing in shul on y”k (during selling of aliyos, not during davening lol) that many people cover their ears when wearing a tichel. Is there a reason for this? I noticed it on more than one person so I can’t imagine that it’s just ‘how she does it’. Is their a reason behind it?

    #816443

    workaholic
    Member

    Happiest: If you don’t cover the ears, theare’s about an inch of hair sticking out from the sides.

    btw, what IS the point in wearing long sheitals that look just like hair? Ironically, I find that girls wear shoulder length hair until after marriage when it’s suddenly ok to wear long (and I mean LONG) sheitals. Just wondering…What’s the hetter (I thought it’s worse for a married woman to wear her hair in an attractive way)?

    #816444

    Sam2
    Participant

    Workaholic: What’s the Issur? Halacha considers someone’s natural hair to be an issue and nothing else. Just because it’s slightly illogical from one point of view doesn’t mean that that will change the Halacha.

    #816445

    happiest
    Member

    Got it, workaholic. Thanks for answering!

    #816446

    shlishi
    Member

    Sam: The issue would be the same if she put anything on her to draw attention to herself. Like workaholic indicated, there is no other reason to wear these looong sheitels other than to draw attention to oneself.

    #816447

    workaholic
    Member

    happiest: No problem.

    Sam2: I’m not a posek. But I assume it’s assur for a woman to look attractive either way. Whether it’s tight clothing, short sleeves or long hair. Why do most girls wear their hair shorter? I guess because it’s more tznius. So why is it okay to wear a long attractive sheitel?

    #816448

    ItcheSrulik
    Member

    Stamper: How old are you? Either way, I’ll take this Rosh Yeshiva’s word because I knew him personally, no offense.

    #816449

    Sam2
    Participant

    Find me an Issur on a woman looking attractive.

    #816450

    sam4321
    Participant

    The Mishna Brura(75:15) infers and brings the Pri Migadim that even if a woman uses her own detached hair it is permissible in those places that do that.(Others disagree)

    #816451

    ItcheSrulik: Which rosh yeshiva was it?

    #816452

    amused
    Participant

    “Don’t put a stumbling block before the blind.”

    #816453

    Sam2
    Participant

    Amused: Really? Looking overly or inappropriately attractive maybe. Are you really gonna that it’s an Issur D’Oraisa of Lifnei Iver for a beautiful woman to ever be in sight of men? The Poskim don’t call it that. Also, it’s not Lifnei Iver anyway.

    #816454

    Sam2
    Participant

    Yitay: I forget where, but since I was 16 or so I always had an assumption that S’ar is an Ervah Mid’rabannan. I feel like I saw that somewhere but I have absolutely no idea where.

    #816455

    mommamia22
    Participant

    Long or short (shaitel), a woman feels different once her hair is covered. Feeling different leads to acting different.

    #816456

    sam4321
    Participant

    Sam2: Avoda Zara (18a) story with Rabbi Chanina daughter.

    #816457

    Sam2
    Participant

    Sam4: What does that Gemara prove? That a Tzadeikis is held to an incredibly high level? We know she did something wrong (and it’s not clear what being Medakdeik in her steps means; that can be read several ways), but that doesn’t mean that it’s something that is Assur for the average person.

    #816458

    sam4321
    Participant

    Medakdeik: careful to cause attention(I do agree that this was a special case,yet there is something that can be learned from it)

    #816459

    amused
    Participant

    Sam2- a long sheitel is exactly that.

    #816460

    mdd
    Member

    Sam2, look at the beginning of Yeshaya about the Bnos Tzion and the Gemora’s elaboration on it in Ba’ma Ha’Isha in Shabbos. It is a problem for a married woman to appear in public overly mekushetes.

    #816461

    Sam2
    Participant

    Mdd: In that Gemara they were doing worse things. Also, the Gemara in Ta’anis by (I believe) Abba Chilkiya is a Ra’ya B’rurah that a woman can be in public completely Mekushetes so long as it is not in an inappropriate fashion.

    #816462

    GeshmakMan
    Participant

    I have a real issue with people selectively comparing themselves to Rebbeim and their spouses for “Kulas”. These silly questions are insulting and lack all common sense.

    How come the question isn’t “Rav Soloveitchik knew Kol HaTorah Kulah, how come my husband doesn’t”?

    When your husband is the next Rav Soloveitchik, then you should compare yourself to his wife!

    #816463

    Health
    Participant

    workaholic -“after marriage when it’s suddenly ok to wear long (and I mean LONG) sheitals. Just wondering…What’s the hetter (I thought it’s worse for a married woman to wear her hair in an attractive way)?”

    It’s not necessarily based on attractiveness.

    There are definitely Poskim who say you can’t wear long Shaitels and some say you can’t wear any Shaitel at all (Tichel or similar only). Usually these Poskim come from the Chassidish or Yerushalmi type neighborhoods.

    Most Poskim in the Litvitshe or modern communities don’t hold these are Ossur!

    #816464

    shlishi
    Member

    Health: The Sefardic poskim are also (generally) against sheitels (altogether) i.e. Rav Ovadia Yosef. And the Litvish/Yeshivish are against long sheitels, though they do allow sheitels.

    #816465

    mdd
    Member

    Sam2, it is clear that even the etzem fact of showing up in public overly-mekushetes(wearing a tone of make-up etc.) was a problem. Secondly, how do you see from the Abba Chilkiya ma’ase that his wife was very mekushetes?

    Health, look at my post. Long sheitel is, pashtus, very mekushetes.

    #816466

    Health
    Participant

    shlishi & mdd -If the Litvish/yeshivish Poskim held the long Shaitels are Ossur, I would have heard about it. I live in Lakewood. Most don’t. Go ask them why they don’t.

    #816467

    shlishi
    Member

    I see, Health. You live in Lakewood. And you would have heard about it. Since you haven’t heard about, it ain’t so. Since you would have heard about it.

    How about call any of the Yeshiva’s poskim, take your choice which one, and *ask*. Wouldn’t that be a novel idea?

    #816468

    msseeker
    Member

    Every single one of the poskim who were mattir shaitels would be scandalized by today’s shaitels, especially the long ones, and I dare anyone to contend otherwise.

    #816469

    Health
    Participant

    shlishi & msseeker-

    Look why don’t You call the Poskim and ask them? If you know of any Litvish Poisek here in the US that holds they’re Ossur, post their name. And don’t tell me you have the right to be Machmir even if it’s Mutter because you came on a public forum and you Passeled many people. I personally don’t like the long Shaitels but my preference doesn’t make it Ossur. You claim it is, so now prove it!

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