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Do divorced or widowed women still have to keep their hair covered?

by Rabbi Moshe Miller

  

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Once married, a woman must keep her hair covered even if she is divorced or widowed.1 Two reasons for this are:

1. Once a woman has defined a certain part of her body as sensual and private, it would be immodest to expose it publicly again.

2. In addition to the often discussed “logical” reasons why a married woman covers her hair, there are also “mystical” reasons given in Kabbalah which explain that there is a certain powerful energy that is exuded by a woman’s hair, and that energy can become destructive it if it is not contained; it therefore must be covered. This energy is activated when a woman consummates marriage, hence it applies to any woman who was married, even if she is now divorced or widowed. (See What is the mystical significance for women covering their hair?)

Wearing a wig need not hinder her search for a new partner. Most modern wigs use natural hair and many cannot be easily identified as a wig.

Footnotes

  • 1. See Editor's Comment on "Divorced women uncovering their hair" comment beneath article.

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COMMENTS

why wear a wig in the first place?

Posted by: Anonymous, Malmᅵ, Sweden on Oct 11, 2005

I'm guessing that the Rabbi wants to "comfort" women who might only have been married for a short time, and then are obligated to wear a wig ( or cover their hair in some other way).

However, I find it strange as the wigs which the Rabbi is referring to are also most likely used by married women. And in my humble opinion wearing a wig that "cannot be easily identified as a wig " is somehow defeating the purpose of wearing a wig in the first place.

gmar chatima tova

just wondering

Editor's Comment

Rabbi Miller responds: We obviously understand the purpose of a wig very differently. It seems that you think a wig should make a woman less attractive (or even unattractive?), whereas the way I see it, the wig is meant simply to cover the hair -- which it does very well. The fact that it does not make a woman look frumpy is a positive thing.

Divorced women uncovering their hair

Posted by: Anonymous on Oct 18, 2006

If I am not mistaken the Iggros Moshe in vol. 3 siman 57 has a discussion about this where it seems that he does permit divorced women in some circumstances to uncover their hair.

Other posskim also discuss this, the point in short is it is not that simple and I guess each case has to be evaluated separately (i.e. no across the board statments).

Editor's Comment

The response given is normative halachah. It is, however, true that Rabbi Feinstein does allow for a divorced woman to uncover her hair under certain pressing circumstances. This opinion has not been universally accepted. A divorcee who feels that she has extenuating circumstances which prevent her from covering her hair should consult with a qualified rabbi.

RELATED CATEGORIES

Life Cycle » Marriage » Divorce
Daily Life » Clothing » Modesty

Kabbalah
Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.