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Why do married women have to cover their hair?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

Library » Women & Judaism » Modesty | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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The law (Talmud Ketubot 72a, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 75:2) is based on Numbers 5:18, where it is stated that the kohen "reveals the hair of the [Sotah] woman." This is a clear indication that women have always covered their hair.

So why don't women cover their hair before marriage?

1. The verse in Numbers is referring to a (sotah) married woman. Therefore only married women are bound by this rule.

A women's hair is considered to be sensuous... Once a woman is married, she reserves her sensuous side for her husband only
2. Practically, women's hair is considered to be sensuous. Once a woman is married, she reserves her sensuous side for her husband. Additionally, once a woman is married, she must make a special effort not to "advertise" herself, for the results of a married woman's illegitimate relationship are much more disastrous than if a single girl were to make the same mistake.

The Zohar (vol. III p. 126a) elaborates on the many blessings which Hashem bestows upon the woman (and her entire family) who covers her hair properly.

See also What is the mystical significance of women covering their hair?

TAGS: shaitel, wig

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COMMENTS

Women covering hair

Posted by: Albert Idy, Rockville Centre, NY on Apr 13, 2005

Women in many Orthodox circles cover their hair with a very elaborate wig which actually is quite nice and perhaps more sensuous and beautiful then their actual hair. So the whole idea of covering the hair and the reasoning behind it is defeated by the wig which is as nice or "nicer" then her actual hair. Actually, one cannot even tell the difference. So I say no wig. I am well aware that this is precisely why some women wear kerchiefs over their hair and a wig is not acceptable according to some rabbis. I personally don't think the hair covering is necessary at all, but that is another issue. I simply wanted to point out that the wig is the same as the actual hair and probably enhances the overall look.

Editor's Comment

Most people can tell a wig from the real thing, and EVERY woman who is wearing a wig knows the difference between her wig and her real hair. So regardless of how nice a wig looks (and there is no stated Halachah that prohibits a nice wig) a woman is still reserving HER sensuality for her husband, and it is still a reminder that she is married.

A wig also has the advantage that absolutely no natural hair shows from beneath it, it does not slide back, and one is not likely to take it off to adjust it in public.

For a deeper explanation on the need for a hair covering and the advantages of a wig see the link at the bottom of the article.


Wigs

Posted by: Avraham Feldman, Bala Cynwyd, PA on Feb 27, 2007

Can a woman make a wig from her own hair?

Editor's Comment

Yes. Once the woman's hair is detached from her head it is no longer "her hair" (in this context). See What is the mystical significance of women covering their hair? .

RELATED CATEGORIES

Daily Life » Clothing » Modesty

Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Zohar
The most basic work of Jewish mysticism. Authored by Rabbi Shimeon bar Yochai in the 2nd century.
Hashem
"The Name." Out of respect, we do not explicitly mention G-d's name, unless in the course of prayer. Instead, "Hashem" is substituted.
Sotah
A woman suspected of adultery, with probable cause. She is taken to the Holy Temple and given a potion which causes her death if she is guilty of the sin.