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The question of how to cover your hair for religious purposes is often a tricky one. The Mishnah and the Talmud are divided on the issue, and some sources allow you to leave the tefach out while others forbid it. In the middle, you can find a middle ground, where liberals can permit your tefach to show, while conservative communities require women to wear scarves or wigs.
If you’re an Orthodox Jewish woman who has had trouble with her sheitel, you are not alone. Many Orthodox women struggle with the appearance of their hair and are often forced to cover it for religious reasons. But there’s hope. Wigs are a low-maintenance way to hide thinning hair. In fact, a wig can be worn in less time than putting on a hat.
Historically, married Jewish women have been covered by their hair since the Talmud and Biblical times. The first recorded usage of wigs dates from the 16th century, when fashionable wigs among European nobility became popular. While some women felt obligated to wear wigs, other Orthodox women preferred to follow fashion trends. In addition, many women would argue that wigs for married women in orthodox Judaism aren’t as sensual as real hair.
Jewish wigmakers are required to source hair from approved donors, and must avoid hair donated in other religious practices. But even though Jewish wigmakers are obligated to use hair that has been donated to a synagogue or a religious organization, some of them are selling wig units to non-Jewish customers as well. Though most women wear wigs for religious reasons, some just like to wear them for the comfort they provide or simply want to give their natural hair a break.
Orthodox women do not wear trousers and must wear skirts and dresses that fall below the elbow. Their arms must also be covered, and their necklines are high. Often, clothing is altered, slits are sewn up, and false necklines are added. Many women will layer clothes to achieve a final look. Another principle of tznius is to cover hair. To do this, they wear a scarf or a sheitel (the Yidish term for wig).
The idea of a religious law prohibiting the wearing of scarves by married women in orthodox Judaisim is not new. In the early 20th century, some Orthodox rabbis justified women’s decisions not to cover their hair. HaRav Mashash, the chief rabbi of Morocco in the 1960s, and the American Modern Orthodox rabbi Isaac Hurwitz were two of the rabbis who took on this position. In fact, some of them were attacked by their community for their beliefs on this matter, and their opinions were ultimately criticized. However, some rabbis systematically examined sources to find the halachic support for this view.
In addition to wearing a scarf to cover up one’s hair, a Jewish woman can choose to wear a wig. This is a symbol of marriage and married women. Traditionally, women must cover their entire body when they are out in public, so wearing a scarf is a way to keep men away from them. Although some women may be contented with this practice, many feel it violates their Jewish identity.
Historically, Jewish women have covered their hair even after marriage. Although some women deemphasize this practice, others embrace it and see it as a way to reinforce a social norm. While modesty is a subjective value, a woman’s decision about how much she covers her hair will depend on her own beliefs and the culture in which she lives. Moreover, she must consider her own body type when making a decision about a religiously-acceptable hair covering.
A scarf, also known as a mitpachat, is worn by married women in orthodox Judaisim. These head coverings are essential to maintaining a code of modesty in the community. Depending on the tzniut, these women may reveal an inch of hairline or a narrow strip of hair in front of the scarf. A right-wing Orthodox woman may also wear a “bobeau” underneath.
While the Mishnah for hair coverings for married Jewish women doesn’t actually command a woman to cover her head, there are many different ways to cover her hair. This mitzvah is based on biblical verses, specifically Numbers 5:11-22. The Mishnah cites this verse as evidence that covering one’s head is a Jewish minhag, and has become de facto law.
This is the same rationale that teaches men to cover their heads when they appear in front of great people. The fear of Heaven is too great for a bare-headed man. Therefore, single women are free to go bald until they marry, and then don’t have to cover their heads. This principle applies to Orthodox women as well. While the Mishnah isn’t completely clear, rabbinic authorities are unanimous in their view that married women should cover their heads.
Although Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ruled that all married women should cover their heads in public, he later explained that there is no prohibition on revealing the tefach. However, some women wear a tichel or a mitpaha to cover their heads. Others use a wig, which is known as a sheitel.
While women have traditionally covered their hair after marriage, this practice is not universally accepted. In some cultures, covering hair was a sign of modesty. In other cultures, the definition of modesty has changed over time, and Jewish legal texts are subject to interpretation. In Hide and Seek, author Kathy Schreiber collects essays by women who choose to cover their hair after marriage. She includes essays from women of different backgrounds, including Orthodox women and the author herself.
Hasidic women’s shpitzel
While the rabbis in the United States and Europe continue to call for change in the marriage laws, the Hasidic communities are not willing to budge. Consequently, they continue to be repressive toward their women. In response, a new wave of literature has emerged that exposes these concerns. The new works include memoirs by ex-Chasidic women, personal accounts of sexual repression, and the opinions of those who have left religious communities.
Most Hasidic Jews marry during the evening. This allows them to work outside the home and provide for their families. They teach at girls’ religious schools, work in computers and secretarial jobs, and engage in specific Jewish purposes. The wedding ceremony is generally held on Saturday. The evening before the wedding, a group of well-wishers will stop by to offer their congratulations.
The shpitzel for Hasidic women is a hat, scarf, or wig. These clothing pieces are worn to hide the hair. While women who are married in Orthodox Judaism must cover their heads, the women wearing hats or wigs must be completely hidden in public. In addition, women must cover their entire bodies in public. For example, Hasidic women cannot wear pants. They must wear long dresses and socks to cover their ankles.
Some Hasidic communities are closed to outsiders and not open to non-Hasidic Jews. The sectarian nature of some Hasidic groups has created a public relations nightmare for some, especially those that seek greater religious autonomy. However, the Lubavitcher movement, also known as Chabad, has made it a point to recruit non-Hasidic Jews in order to spread their message to a wider audience. In addition, the Hasidic women are increasingly involved in outreach activism and writing.