The Purpose of Hair Covering – To Cover The Hair, or To Be Aware?

The Purpose of Hair Covering – To Cover The Hair, or To Be Aware?

I had a moment today where I got all panicked that I had left the house without covering my hair. I was sitting in the library and all of a sudden had the need to feel my head for a covering. Phew. I remembered, belatedly, that I had put on a fall this morning, one that is so light that it feels that it’s barely there.

So I put this on Facebook and it has led to a lively discussion – you can go weigh in if you are Facebook enabled or weigh in in the comments below.


This is what I posted:

Ok, so yeah, my hair is covered. But I momentarily forgot because my covering is so comfortable that I was unaware that I was wearing it.

Does this defeat the purpose of hair-covering? Is the mitzvah so that it is covered, or so that it is covered and I am aware every second that my hair is covered and I am a married lady?

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  1. Lady Lock N Load says:

    Where did you get this wig that is so comfortable that you don’t feel it’s there? I would love to get one. thx!

  2. Abe Kohen says:

    There is no MITZVA to cover your hair. It is a custom for married women to cover their hair as beautiful hair might entice a man to covet you and more. Se’ar b’isha erva. Hence a tichel is preferable to a wig (according to my maternal great-grandfather’s will), since some wigs actually enhance beauty for some women.

    אמר רב ששת שער באשה ערוה בנשים שדרכן לכסות שערן אבל בתולות שדרכן
    לילך פרועות מותר לקרות כנגדן

    My wife does not cover her hair. Neither did Rav Soloveichik’s wife.

  3. Druid says:

    Sear B’isha erva.

    @ Abe Cohen: tichels slip back and shows hair. Sheitels dont and are therefore preferable. There is no issue with the woman looking nice, it is her actual hair that is the problem.

    • Abe Kohen says:

      (Kohen – with a K.) Please read what Rav Sheshet wrote and explain why you believe it is not about appearing desirable to other men. Satmar and Eida Hareidis women wear tichels that don’t slip. Apparently the hair in the back that might show is not an issue, either. Specifically, my great-grandfather, who unlike me, was Ultra Orthodox railed against sheitels as they defeat the purpose of the minhag.

      • Druid says:

        Read לקט שכחת הפאה by Rabbi Wolpe. It explains the whole matter at great length. (And, satmar and eida charidis women shave their heads bald, hence the no slipping).

        & Hadassah, I understand that it is your blog, but posting a picture of yourself without a hair covering is rather tasteless.

        • Abe Kohen says:

          Druid, why would I consult a Conservative rabbi on an Orthodox matter? And I think you have a lot of hutzpa to be telling the blogger that posting her own picture is tasteless, but I guess on the internet any putz can hide behind a pseudonym and post obnoxiously.

          • How do you know you won’t agree with Rabbi Wolpe’s reasoning until you read what he wrote? Conservative rabbis tend to view halacha different than Orthodox rabbis do, but they are still halachically rigorous in their own way. To prejudge someone’s opinions as irrelevent just because of what denomination they affiliate with is intolerant and disrespectful.

          • Abe Kohen says:

            I mean no disrespect to Wolpe, but I can’t fathom why anyone would seek the opinion of a C or R rabbi, on a matter which is outside the scope of C halacha.

            Do any Conservative women wear wigs (not after chemo) or tichels, with a halachic intent? So what would a Conservative rabbi have to say on a matter which seems to be important only to Centrist and Ultra O’s (of which I am neither)?

          • Druid says:

            There is another Rabbi Wolpe who is orthodox.

          • Actually, yes, a few do. And I plan to (wear a tichel or headband, not a wig).

            And the fact that most don’t could say something, too. If it’s because Conservative poskim have said it’s not mandatory, that tells us that there are opinions that say it’s not mandatory. Just like R’ Soloveitchik’s wife allegedly not wearing one (if that’s true) tells us a lot about the issue (if we are assuming that she followed her husband’s psak).

        • Echo says:

          Except, she just said IN HER POST that it WAS covered. And since this picture was from today, I’m going to go CRAZY here and assume this is the picture she took while at the library, and posted on FB, with her musings on why covering is important, and since she already said she WAS in fact covered … I find your comment quite tasteless on a few levels.

          Sorry HSM…

          • Druid says:

            Except she said she was wearing a fall which means it doesnt cover the front of her hair (and youd see a band = fall).

        • Rachel Steiner says:

          Who are you to go round calling people tasteless – I think sanctimonious fools are arrogant and tasteless

  4. Lady Lock N Load says:

    What is wrong with wearing a fall?

    • Druid says:

      Some people don’t wear falls because they “fall” into the same category as a tichel in that it doesn’t cover the hair at the front of the head.

      & I wasn’t saying anything abt that right now, all I said was is that she said she was wearing a fall which is obviously not being worn in that picture (in response to echo’s comment).

      • HaDassah says:

        Actually I am wearing it in the above picture. Not every fall is a band-fall. That you think I would uncover my hair to make a point on my blog is so tremendously insulting. Who are YOU to judge ME?

  5. Gana says:

    To the person arguing with HaDassah about if she is covering or hair or not. She said she was. There needs to be no more argument after that. Stop being argumentative. If you don’t agree with the way she covers, that’s not up to you, that’s between her, her husband and her rabbi. Give it a rest.

    Shabbat shalom.

  6. Allaya says:

    I think that accusing somebody you don’t know of somehow playing fast and easy with their halakha in a public forum based solely on your impressions rather than fact is rather tasteless, too.

  7. Rubyv says:

    She said her hair is covered, therefore, it is covered. It is her obligation and not yours. Do you also snoop in other people’s kitchens when they say they keep kosher, or follow women to the mikveh to confirm that they dip? You do not get to determine the boundaries of her observance.

    Calling yourself a druid is an insult to pagans everywhere.

  8. Eve says:

    Dear Druid,

    In person, good wigs are almost indistinguishable from real hair, and certainly nearly impossible to differentiate in a photo. Perhaps you are used to women in “bad” wigs, or perhaps, since you quote Rabbi Wolpe, you are not used to seeing women in ANY wig and you cannot tell the difference.

    Even if the front of her hair were her real hair, she is still adhering to halachia as many prominent rabbis consider the exposure of 1 tefach (about 4 inches) of hair acceptable. I forgive you for not knowing the actual halachia since, given your appellation, I am assuming you are not yourself Jewish. Its a common rookie mistake for people who want to make fun of other religions to misunderstand the actual laws and customs of that religion. I suggest you become better educated before you start accusing people of hypocrisy in the future, otherwise you run the risk of simply looking ignorant.

    Even if you are Jewish, obviously, you are bored with your own life and need something to do. May I suggest that you go pick up stones and harass women in religious neighborhoods who don’t dress properly? I suggest you would fit right in with those individuals. The next visit of the WoW will be at Rosh Chodesh, and you have plenty of time to book tickets and get your prime throwing stones ready.

    • Druid says:

      Eve; WoW stands for World of Warcraft. (Head shake) Everyone should know that.

    • Druid says:

      Oh, and the hair seen is very clearly not a wig. Additionally, even if she is permitted to have 4 inches uncovered, to post a picture which shows pretty much exclusively her own hair in a post on this topic is still rather tasteless.

  9. Can we just block him?

  10. Rubyv says:

    But Ali, watching him mansplain is amusing. I love mansplaing. It’s awesome.

  11. Rubyv says:

    Since clearly, the possibility of seeing a bit of hair has robbed him of his peace, good sense, and decency, the only path left, HSM, is to shave your head like I do.

  12. Ha! That Druid likes to stir up controversy – just did it on my blog the other day – I was contemplating blocking him, but letting people expose themselves lets others make wiser decisions around them.

  13. Batya says:

    When I first married I sometimes didn’t cover my hair at home, but it caused me too many problems. Now it’s just easier to keep my hair covered all the time. I don’t wear wigs, mostly scarves, sometimes a hat.

  14. formerly orthodox says:

    Hair covering is mandatory to keep your hair covered, although the “reminder” idea is a lovely one (akin to the man’s wearing of a head covering to remind him that there is always One above his intellect).

    According to Rabbi Pesach Eliyahu Falk (unfortunately he does not list the sources for his halachic pronouncements.)

    It is an obligation min haTorah (from the Torah) for a married woman to have her hair covered whenever she is in a public area or appears amongst a large number of people. Chazal (our sages) labeled hair of a married woman “ervah” (area that must be covered) and it is therefore ossur (prohibited) mid’Rabanan (from the sages) to say a bracha (blessing) when looking at such hair, be it another woman’s hair which he may not see, or his own wife’s which he may see.

    It is an obligation mid’Rabanan (from our sages) for a married woman to cover her hair when she is not in the public eye but she could be seen by men who are not part of her intimate family, e.g. when she goes out to the porch or yard. The issur (prohibition) applies even if she can only be seen by one individual, such as when she opens the door to a stranger.

    Rabbi Soloveitchik was known to have held that a woman’s covering of the hair was a “chiyuv d’oraysa” but that a man was not required to divorce his wife if she didn’t comply, as would be the case with certain other issurim.

    • Abe Kohen says:

      Sorry, but without sources for your outlandish remarks, I am inclined to say that what you quote is utter and unadulterated BS. Pesach Falk is an UO rabbi in the UK. As the OP wrote, his psakim are not accepted universally as halacha. Now was it Falk or yourself who made the claim about Rav Soloveitchik? SOURCES!!!!

      • Druid says:

        There is nothing outlandish about what FO said. It is all common knowledge. Again, I referenced a book earlier that goes through the entire subject at length with sources and all.

  15. Sophia says:

    Just a quick reminder, not everyone accepts Rabbi Falk as their posek in matters of Tznius, be it kisui rosh or anything else.

    Personally and on principal I do not wear wigs, but I would never criticise a woman who decides to do so or who follows the pasak of a particular Rabbi/Rebbe.

    I will however cheerfully admit to wearing elbow length sleeves, boat necks, high scoop necks, form fitting tops, dark reds and horror of horror ankle length skirts with sandals and painted toenails. Oh yes, I have multiple piercings in my ears.

    The things is that it suits me and I feel comfortable in it and it makes staying Tznius easier. I see plenty of Shomer Shabbos/Mitzvos mainstream (MO, United Orthodox, DL) women of my age wearing clothes like this. They are confident Jewish women to be admired and are my role models.

  16. Rebecca Fistel says:

    I think it depends on what the woman believes is ok for her. Example: I saw a woman at a pool on a Friday. She covered her elbows and knees and hair. Sat she was all dressed up for Shul. Sunday, she had her head covered with a snood and wore a two piece slinky bathing suit. There were men and woman in the pool. Her husband was there. They attend an Orthodox Shul. I was floored but did not feel it was my business to ask why she was all modest on Friday and Sat and not on Sun. At this same pool there were woman who wore a full bathing outfit which completely covered their elbows, neck and knees. They also wore a bathing cap. It is a mystery to me and the reason why I think they do what they feel is right, for them.

    • tesyaa says:

      I would feel creeped out if I felt someone was looking at me 3 days in a row, but I guess we are all on display one way or another.

  17. Hadassah Behrndtz says:

    Shalom Hadassah!
    Very interesting question indeed and a very interesting discussion that came out of it.
    I personally think its a bit of both. Its like the mizvah not to mix diary with meat. You should not do it because it is not allowed but it also has a deeper message behind. Not only do we slaughter the animal but after we have slaughter it we insult it my eating it with its mothers milk?! Thats just cruel! And that is why many choose not to.
    Every Mizah has a profound message behind and even if we might not comprehend them all we must all figure out ourselves why we are doing them, dispite the religious reasons then. If you feel that you need to have something helping you staying aware all the time of that you’re a married woman and that you are modest then let that be your reason why you choose to follow this Mizvah. The important thing is that we follow them, for G-ds sake.

    I think that you have found a great purpose nontheless as to why any married woman should want to follow this Mizvah. It’s like a mans kippah keeping him aware of the higher presence, so to speak.

    You have a beautiful name by the way haha

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