Why do Jewish women cover their hair?

Jewish Woman Wearing Turband

For Jewish women, it is imperative that they wear a head covering at all times. That's why religious Jewish women wear wigs. The principle of modesty motivates this behaviour. For modesty, they cover their hair with scarves, veils, hats, or wigs (Sheitel).

Most notably, a woman is expected to wear a head covering in public after she gets married. The only way to ensure that no one notices her hair is to completely cover it up. Some women even go so far as to never remove their head coverings, not even in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

It is wrong for Israeli women to go out without scarves, and it is a curse on a man to expose his wife's hair to the public. It's clear that the traditional Jewish view of women was extremely conservative.

Concerns about gender are taken very seriously in Orthodox Jewish practise. Schools, synagogues, the street, and public transportation all have distinct gender segregation policies in place.

Wigs, as I mentioned before, are a sign of matrimony for Jewish women of a certain age. Wrapping one's neck in a scarf serves only one purpose: keeping women safe. Women constantly cover up more than just their hair. These customs are meant to discourage other men from being attracted to women due to their physical appearance.

The external changes of the 19th century, however, compelled many women to go out in public without their hair covered. Similarly, some Jewish women prefer to wear wigs instead of veils.

Why do Jewish women often don wigs in place of headscarves? Modern Jewish women typically only wear head coverings when they are worshipping in a synagogue. Also, by covering their hair with wigs, they prevent unwanted attention. It's also not easy to spot a wig.

Table of Contents

The origins of this custom

When a woman is accused of adultery, the Bible describes a ritual called the Sotah that is used to test her faithfulness. The Torah states that the accused woman's hair must be unbraided or left exposed as part of the shame she must feel before the ceremony.

The Talmud concludes that, barring exceptional circumstances, women are commanded in the Bible to cover their hair. However, the Mishnah suggests that covering one's hair is not a biblical mandate.

Examples of behaviours that are grounds for divorce include "meandering in the marketplace," "speaking to any man," and showing up in public with loose hair," all of which are seen as offences of Dat Yehudit, the Jewish principle, as opposed to Dat Moshe, the Mosaic rule.

This classification implies that covering one's hair is not a divine command given to Moses at Sinai, but rather a culturally determined norm of modesty among Jews. Wigs, scarves, and hats are the most popular hair coverings for women.

The Yiddish word for their wig is "sheitel." Both synthetic and human hair can be used to make this product. The wigs can cost anywhere from $500 to $1500. Hasidic women typically have two or more wigs at their disposal, one for daily wear and one reserved for more formal occasions.

Some Orthodox women choose to cover their hair with a scarf known as a "tichel." The hair will be tied over it to keep it in place. A hat may be worn, but it is more common for women to wear a wig or scarf in addition to the hat in order to cover their hair.

That anthropologist has confused a wig for real hair and real modesty for his own twisted version of the concept. Modesty is not synonymous with unattractiveness in Judaism, but in his mind it is. The Jewish view is that modesty is not synonymous with ugliness. Instead, modesty serves as a means of maintaining personal space. A wig is able to do just that.

It was never the intention of the hair covering to make a married woman look plain. Maintaining one's physical attractiveness is highly valued in Jewish culture, as the belief that one is endowed with beauty comes from God.

The Jewish faith also recommends keeping one's appearance under wraps until marriage. This is not done to diminish one's attractiveness, but to save it for the one place it truly belongs. Several stories in rabbinic literature attest to the fact that women of the Talmudic period customarily wore head coverings.

Take the story of the woman who sued the man who made her remove her head covering in public, as told in Bava Kama. Because the man broke some sort of social norm, the judge seems to agree with the woman. 

Another tale told in the Talmud describes a woman who gave birth to seven sons, each of whom went on to become High Priests.  In response to the question of why she produced so many male offspring, she will likely state that no one in her family has seen her hair.

On the one hand, the recently departed instance may pertain a historical reality of practise that does not properly reflect religious obligation, whereas the latter is story of extreme loyalty that surpasses any law or collective consensus.

Jewish authorities throughout the Middle Ages reaffirmed the requirement to cover women's hair, which originated with the Sotah story. A divorce is automatically granted if she ever leaves the house without the chador, the standard of modesty in Arab nations.

According to the Shulchan Aruch, women of all statuses (married or unmarried) are obligated to cover their hair in public. However, Ashkenazic rulings specify that only married women have this obligation. The mystical significance of women taking care to reveal not even a strand of hair is elaborated upon in the Zohar, further solidifying this custom.

Women Jewish with Head cover

Implications of Donning a Sheitel

The person wearing the head covering will be changed in significant ways. This separates her in her mind from complete strangers and serves as a psychological barrier. Her attractiveness becomes obvious, but she remains out of reach.

Other Orthodox rabbis have made the argument that women no longer need to cover their hair in public, so hair is no longer considered erotic. The Arukh HaShulhan rules that men may now pray near women's hair, and Rav Moshe Feinstein allowed women to display a small portion of their hair during prayer.

HaRav Mashash, and Isaac Hurwitz, were two Orthodox rabbis who drew criticism for their views that justified women's decisions to forego covering their hair altogether. They write that a systematic review of the sources demonstrates that the above sources describe a social norm of modest dress rather than a legal obligation.

The wig is effective because it conceals the wearer's natural hairline while still making her appear attractive. She can be confident in her appearance without worrying about anyone discovering her true identity.

And even if her wig is so convincing that people think she has real hair, she is well aware that they are not seeing the real her. As the gatekeeper, she alone decides who is permitted entry into her personal sphere.

Maybe being humble and attractive are mutually exclusive in other faiths. Jewish tradition does not hold this view. In order to flourish, true beauty, the kind that comes from within, requires that its possessor practice modesty.

Do women in the Hasidic faith shave their heads?

Women in the Hasidic community vary in whether or not they shave their heads. Those who shave are held to a higher standard of conformity. Because they do not have any hair, they're taking measures to ensure this will never be a problem. While some Jewish women in the Orthodox tradition may practice this, it is not universal.

It's not the case for the vast majority of them. The people who choose not to shave do not see it as necessary to take such measures. To them, it's enough to carefully conceal their heads. Of course, once they're at home, most women will keep the hair coverage in the bedroom as well.

The Jewish faith imposes stringent regulations on personal appearance. The Jewish culture places a high importance on women maintaining their modesty. While the majority of Jewish women simply choose to cover their hair, there are those who go even further. They're the kind of people who get a buzz cut and a wig.

Shaving one's head is seen as a great way to ensure women maintain their modesty in the Hasidic custom, where it is considered equivalent to being nude. Some women claim to have no problem with this, and that they can wear wigs without fear of harming their natural hair.

They feel betrayed by the tradition, even though others follow it. Don't forget that not all Jewish women shave their heads, but all of them do wear wigs.

Hasidic Jewish women's culture and customs elaborated

The traditional gender roles of men as breadwinners who leave the house every day to go to work are maintained. Most women stay at home to take care of the house, the kids, and the cooking and cleaning.

The family sizes of Hasidic Jews are well-known to be quite large. These days, a typical family can have up to six children. That means the wife has a lot of options for earning money. The older siblings are usually the ones who help out with the younger ones.

Cooking can be a major task for Orthodox women, as they are expected to have two large feasts ready for the Sabbath each week, and they must be done by Friday afternoon. No food may be prepared after the start of Shabbos.

Women have taken it upon themselves to cover their hair for generations, even though only a small number of traditional rabbis have revised the law on the subject. In the 1600s, when French women started wearing wigs to hide their hair, the first sparks of rebellion were ignited.

Rabbis disapproved of this trend for two reasons: it was too similar to popular non-Jewish fashion, and it was also considered impolite for a woman to flaunt her beauty by wearing a wig.

Ironically, the custom of wearing wigs has spread and is now widespread among the Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox communities. To avoid having their wigs mistaken for real hair, some women in these communities follow the tradition of also wearing a head covering.

Many Orthodox women stopped covering their heads in public as the custom declined in the West over the last century. These women saw hair covering as a cultural practise, despite the rabbis' views to the contrary.

Many modern women who still wear head coverings do so for reasons other than the expected one of modesty. Some women, for instance, don't cover their hair at home because they consider it an indicator of their unmarried status.

Some people, however, show off most or all of their hair and wear only a small symbolic covering on their heads. Not only that, but in many places the synagogue is the only place where women will publicly show their headscarves.

Interestingly, a more stringent stance towards hair covering has emerged among women who, thanks to developments in girls' empowerment, are able to read the Jewish credible sources for themselves and reject the more lax norms of their families' communities.

Jewish women and their communities are shaping the meaning of modesty as a core Jewish value. In the same way that women in some communities have opted to downplay hair covering as a sign of modesty, women in other communities may choose to embrace it, thereby establishing and strengthening a more entire idea norm.

Since modesty is open to various interpretations, the community to which one aspires to belong may play an important role in shaping their behaviour. The decision to cover one's hair is complex, involving considerations of law, custom, individual preference, and group affiliation.

Conclusion

It is a religious requirement for Jewish women to always cover their hair. Some women never take off their veils, scarves, hats, or wigs (Sheitel) for religious or cultural reasons. Every Hasidic woman has at least two wigs in her closet: one for casual wear and one for special events.

It is suggested in the Mishnah that head covering is not required by scripture. Judaism does not equate modesty with ugliness, contrary to the views of some anthropologists.

If she ever steps out of the house without the chador, the symbol of modesty in Arab countries, she will be granted a divorce. According to Ashkenazic law, this responsibility falls solely on married women.

The wig is functional because it hides the wearer's hairline and makes her look better overall. Culture and customs of Hasidic Jewish women were explained. When it comes to head shaving, some women in the Hasidic community do it, while others prefer not to.

To be respectful of others and one's own modesty is highly valued in Jewish tradition. Some women insist they have no trouble doing so, and that they can safely wear wigs without exposing their own hair to the elements.

Women in the Hasidic community are expected to be stay-at-home mothers. Wigs have been popular among females ever since the 1600s, when French women began donning them to cover their hair. It was too similar to non-Jewish fashion, so rabbis frowned upon it, and it was also considered impolite.

Modesty is a fundamental Jewish value, and it is being redefined by Jewish women and their communities. Since modesty can be understood in different ways, social pressure from the group to which one aspires may play a significant role in shaping actual behaviour.

There are many factors to think about when deciding whether or not to cover one's hair, such as religious law, social norms, personal convictions, and the desire to identify with a specific group.

Content Summary

  • For Jewish women, it is imperative that they wear a head covering at all times.
  • That's why religious Jewish women wear wigs.
  • For modesty, they cover their hair with scarves, veils, hats, or wigs (Sheitel).
  • Most notably, a woman is expected to wear a head covering in public after she gets married.
  • It is wrong for Israeli women to go out without scarves, and it is a curse on a man to expose his wife's hair to the public.
  • It's clear that the traditional Jewish view of women was extremely conservative.
  • Wigs, as I mentioned before, are a sign of matrimony for Jewish women of a certain age.
  • Similarly, some Jewish women prefer to wear wigs instead of veils.
  • Modern Jewish women typically only wear head coverings when they are worshiping in a synagogue.
  • Also, by covering their hair with wigs, they prevent unwanted attention.
  • However, the Mishnah suggests that covering one's hair is not a biblical mandate.
  • This classification implies that covering one's hair is not a divine command given to Moses at Sinai, but rather a culturally determined norm of modesty among Jews.
  • The Jewish view is that modesty is not synonymous with ugliness.
  • Instead, modesty serves as a means of maintaining personal space.
  • The Jewish faith also recommends keeping one's appearance under wraps until marriage.
  • Jewish authorities throughout the Middle Ages reaffirmed the requirement to cover women's hair, which originated with the Sotah story.
  • According to the Shulchan Aruch, women of all statuses (married or unmarried) are obligated to cover their hair in public.
  • However, Ashkenazic rulings specify that only married women have this obligation.
  • Other Orthodox rabbis have made the argument that women no longer need to cover their hair in public, so hair is no longer considered erotic.
  • Maybe being humble and attractive are mutually exclusive in other faiths.
  • Women in the Hasidic community vary in whether or not they shave their heads.
  • While some Jewish women in the Orthodox tradition may practise this, it is not universal.
  • The Jewish faith imposes stringent regulations on personal appearance.
  • The Jewish culture places a high importance on women maintaining their modesty.
  • Shaving one's head is seen as a great way to ensure women maintain their modesty in the Hasidic custom, where it is considered equivalent to being nude.
  • Don't forget that not all Jewish women shave their heads, but all of them do wear wigs.
  • The traditional gender roles of men as breadwinners who leave the house every day to go to work are maintained.
  • Most women stay at home to take care of the house, the kids, and the cooking and cleaning.
  • The family sizes of Hasidic Jews are well-known to be quite large.
  • Women have taken it upon themselves to cover their hair for generations, even though only a small number of traditional rabbis have revised the law on the subject.
  • Ironically, the custom of wearing wigs has spread and is now widespread among the Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox communities.
  • To avoid having their wigs mistaken for real hair, some women in these communities follow the tradition of also wearing a head covering.
  • Many Orthodox women stopped covering their heads in public as the custom declined in the West over the last century.
  • Jewish women and their communities are shaping the meaning of modesty as a core Jewish value.
  • In the same way that women in some communities have opted to downplay hair covering as a sign of modesty, women in other communities may choose to embrace it, thereby establishing and strengthening a more entire idea norm.
  • The decision to cover one's hair is complex, involving considerations of law, custom, individual preference, and group affiliation.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

God's order for the woman is the opposite from His order for the man. When she prays or prophesies she must cover her head. If she does not, she disgraces her head (man). This means that she must show her subjection to God's arrangement of headship by covering her head while praying or prophesying.
In 1 Corinthians 11:3-15, Paul writes that if a woman is to be so immodest as to wear her hair uncovered while praying or prophesying in a Christian assembly she might as well shave her head. Paul instructs the Corinthians that it is “one and the same” for a woman to have her head shaved and for her to unveil her hair.
While some women chose merely to cover their hair with a cloth or sheitel, or wig, the most zealous shave their heads beneath to ensure that their hair is never seen by others.
"A sheitel is the Yiddish term for wig. Observant Jewish women cover their hair after marriage with a wig or other hair covering."
“Virgin hair holds up dirt better and longer,” she explains. “So, you might only have to wash it every 8-12 weeks. As soon as it starts to smell though, you should bring it in.

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