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The Lubavitcher Rebbe on Hair Covering

The Lubavitcher Rebbe on Hair Covering

Blessings from Above and Blessings from Below

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In her definitive study of Orthodoxy in America between the years of 1880 and 1945, Jenna Weissman Joselit notes:1

What animated and sustained that experience was not a lasting preoccupation with Jewish law (Halachah) or a collective nostalgia for the piety of an earlier, parental generation but rather an ongoing romance with modernity. Instead of shunning modernity, the interwar Orthodox embraced it, deferred to its strictures, and fashioned their institutions in accord with its dictates [p. 20].… Keeping outwardly distinctive practices to a minimum, Orthodox Jews of this era did not publicly demonstrate or proclaim their Orthodoxy. "It was certainly not a time when you showed your Judaism outside," related one rabbi. "It was a time when you kept your Judaism to yourself. There was no such thing as wearing a kippah on the street."2 The absence of distinctive dress was a hallmark of that era. [p. 21]

In the same book, in her chapter on women, "The Jewish Priestess and Ritual: The Sacred Life of American Orthodox Women," the issue of hair covering for the married woman, is not even mentioned.

He wanted to supplant the widespread aversion to appearing different and "too Jewish" with a strong sense of identity and prideIt was against this backdrop that the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, assumed the mantle of leadership in 1950. By the time of the Second World War, the Lubavitch presence in America was relatively small and depleted, like so many other Chassidic groups. Since there were hardly any young women within the Lubavitch movement in those days, many of the young Chassidim married women from "American" Orthodox homes where the tenets of hair covering were honored more in the breach than in the observance. Even the young women who came with their Chassidic families from Russia were not all committed to this observance, which had declined under the Communist regime.

Through the Rebbe's own words – his correspondences and public addresses – one can trace his systematic campaign to promote and restore the mitzvah of hair covering as de rigueur for observant, married women. It is important to remember that the Rebbe was not the spiritual leader of a select group alone, namely, those that considered themselves Lubavitcher Chassidim. From the published volumes of his correspondence,3 one can see that from the earliest days of his leadership, the Rebbe's influence extended over the widest cross-section of world Jewry.

During this early period, he sought to establish that hair covering was Jewish law and not an obscure custom that belonged to another age. The Rebbe asserted that Jewish law demanded that all – and not just part – of a married woman's hair be covered.4 He wanted to supplant the widespread aversion to appearing different and "too Jewish" with a strong sense of identity and pride; still, he was sensitive to a woman's concern with her appearance. For this reason, the Rebbe advocated the wearing of wigs as opposed to scarves, which he recognized as an unattractive, even untenable, option for most Jewish young women in America. The Rebbe worried that most women, even the more pious, would not wear scarves consistently and in a manner that covered all of their hair. It appears that even then, the Rebbe was concerned for the eventual swell of observant women, whose professional and social involvements would preclude covering hair with scarves or hats. Without the option of a wig, many women would not consider hair covering. The Rebbe's encouragement of the wig is an early illustration of how he would characteristically channel the latest modern-day advancements for the purpose of Torah and mitzvahs.

At first, the Rebbe's stance was not popular. Many women simply did not want to cover their hair while others found the notion of a wig utterly foreign and associated it with the most homely of appearances. Displaying patience and uncanny sensitivity to the psychological and sociological issues at play, the Rebbe persisted in his efforts. Eventually, it paid off. By the late 1960s, the Rebbe's ardent promotion of wigs led to adoption of wearing one as the norm in most Orthodox circles.

At first, the Rebbe's stance was not popular. Many women simply did not want to cover their hair An early example of the Rebbe's approach is seen in the following excerpts from a public address he gave, better known as a farbrengen, on Rosh Chodesh Elul 1954:5

Wearing a wig has a beneficial impact on children and grandchildren, livelihood and health, as the Zohar states6...

...One should not ask: I know of a woman who does not wear a wig and still things go well for her regarding children, health and livelihood, as well as life in general.

First of all, we do not know what transpires in the life of another, what types of travails he or she is undergoing; no one tells the other about all that takes place in one's life. Second of all, we are not to look at what is transpiring in others; we are to do that which G‑d commanded us to do.

We are a minority among the nations. Should we also draw the corollary that since there are more Gentiles than Jews in the world, and things are going well for them, that we are to imitate their ways? Were we to act in such a manner, the Jewish people would have ceased to exist, G‑d forbid, a long time ago.

When a Jewish woman walks in the street without a hair covering, there is not a discernible difference between her and others. However, when she wears a wig, one can tell that here is a Jewish religious woman.

It is not necessary to go in the streets loudly proclaiming, "I am religious"—but...of whom is one embarrassed? One's friend? Were they to [point to her] and say that this is a religious Jew—what is the shame in this matter?

Does such conduct require much self-sacrifice? If, heaven forfend, there is a lack of food to eat, the children are hungry, and it is necessary to keep Shabbat in one's labor and business—this requires great self-sacrifice. And still, without a doubt, Shabbat is kept...

...The difference between a wig and a kerchief is the following: It is easy to take off a kerchief, which is not the case with a wig. For instance, when one is at a gathering and wears a wig, then even if President Eisenhower were to enter, she would not take off her wig. This is not so with a kerchief which can easily be removed...

...In the past, the custom was to completely cut off or shave the hair [and cover it with a kerchief].7 Later on, the wearing of wigs became widespread custom—especially today, when one can buy wigs in many colors, which may look even nicer than one's own hair.

Let the woman ponder this matter. It doesn't take an hour or even a half hour of contemplation. Why doesn't she really want to wear a wig but only a kerchief? Because she knows that a wig cannot be taken off when she is walking in the street or at a gathering, while a kerchief can be moved all the way up and sometimes taken off entirely.

The Rebbe went so far as to state that wigs might even be more attractive than one's own hairIt is possible that she will say that she will wear a kerchief properly. If she does so, then surely it is well. But…why place oneself in the path of temptation? We beseech G‑d prior to our prayers, "Do not bring us to temptation."

Clearly, the Rebbe wished to inspire women to wear wigs and to stand firm in this observance in the face of social pressures. A more careful reading, however, uncovers additional nuances worthy of mention. First is the Rebbe's attentiveness to how profoundly a woman's identity is linked up with her appearance. He understood how critical a factor this was in a woman's decision regarding hair covering. The Rebbe's farbrengens were serious affairs, in which he discussed, for many hours, facets of Torah and shared profound insights. Attending the aforementioned gathering were hundreds of men and very few women,8 yet the Rebbe did not seek to obfuscate this important issue in halachic or philosophic polemic.

The Rebbe went so far as to state that wigs might even be more attractive than one's own hair. At the time, it was meant to encourage and educate women who were of the opinion that all wigs were aesthetically lacking. In comparison to what women might have worn in earlier generations, the new wigs, the Rebbe said, were attractive.

Today, when the highly sophisticated, proliferating wig industry offers truly beautiful options in synthetic and human hair alike,9 it is instructive that the Rebbe had no objection at all to wigs that enhanced a woman's appearance; on the contrary, he encouraged women to take advantage of their availability. Even today, there lingers in many minds the erroneous notion that hair covering is meant to detract from a married woman's attractiveness (which leads to the ubiquitous question as to why covering one's hair with an attractive wig is helpful). The Rebbe's words shed light on the appropriate approach to this mitzvah.

The Rebbe received a legendarily heavy volume of mail every day, among which were letters from women and men regarding their apprehensions about this observance. In other cases, the Rebbe raised the issue himself. Either way, his words on the subject were filled with a sense of import and urgency as seen in the sample below:10

Because your wife has resolved to wear a wig, and to do so gladly, and will not be bothered by those who may scoff at her observance, her merit will be great, specifically as she is of the first in her neighborhood to return to this custom of modest Jewish women and it is well known how our sages valued and praised the ability of an individual to teach many through example.

It may be that in the interim it is difficult to commit to this because of the expenses involved. I want to inform you that there is here (administered through the Lubavitch office) a specific free loan fund for this purpose, which can be repaid over a lengthy period of time, in order to facilitate these purchases by anyone. It is not a good idea to delay this matter. As soon as you get this letter, write me with the name and necessary amount to issue a check; it will be sent out immediately and may G‑d grant you success.

As was his way, the Rebbe urged those who were committed to the observance of this practice to likewise encourage their peers:11 "You should also see to it that others act in like manner, explaining to them that this is the path and segulah to health, sustenance, and true nachas from children. And G‑d should help that you report good tidings in this respect to me."

As was his way, the Rebbe urged those who were committed to the observance of this practice to likewise encourage their peersFrom the following letter, it is evident that resistance to hair covering took many forms. For this correspondent, the problem is less pragmatic and more theological in nature. Interestingly, the Rebbe did not respond to her challenge by providing philosophical or mystical reasons for the mitzvah. For many women (and men), no reason will ever be compelling enough. Rather, the Rebbe stressed that observance of all mitzvot (including hair covering) is first and foremost predicated on one's subservience to G‑d's will:12

In response to your letter of the 13th of Iyar in which you ask how one is to explain the necessity of hair covering (for a married woman): One wonders at the very question, especially since we now find ourselves in the days of preparation for receiving the Torah, which was only received by the Jewish people through their prefacing "we will do" to "we will hear."

It is self-understood and plain that man's belief in G‑d forces him to intellectually accept G‑d's commandments without seeking reasons for them in human intellect. For even simple common sense, if it is but healthy and sound, understands that it is impossible for a finite being to comprehend the infinite.

Indeed, it is a principle of faith among all the Jewish people, believers, children of believers, that G‑d, His understanding and will are truly one and infinite, while man is finite in all aspects of his being.

In addition to the above, when one takes into account the explicit reward received for hair covering (Zohar), then even if one were to be extremely doubtful of this, G‑d forbid, it would still be worth covering the hair. This is most assuredly so, as the words of the Zohar – as part of our Torah of Truth – are completely true, perpetual and everlasting in all places and all times.

In 1957, at a farbrengen held on the holiday of Shavuot, the Rebbe took this discussion in a new direction:13

One of the most essential aspects of a Jewish woman's comportment that has a profound effect on her sons and daughters is her modesty…. "The entire glory of the king's daughter is within" (Psalms 45:14). Thus, we find in the Talmud (Yoma 47a) concerning the exceptional modesty of Kimchit: Kimchit had seven sons, all of whom merited to serve as High Priests.14 The Sages asked her, "What have you done to merit this?" She answered them: "The rafters of my house have never seen the plaits of my hair."

One should not think: Must I act with such a tremendous degree of modesty that my children will become High Priests? It is enough for me if my children grow up to be only regular priests. Does it not say that all Jews are holy!

But if a woman is granted the ability to train her children to become High Priests (i.e., that they achieve the maximum of their spiritual potential), it indicates that this is her responsibility.

The Rebbe underscored the profound effect of a woman's modesty upon her children—in effect, he spoke directly to the maternal instinctThe Rebbe underscored the profound effect of a woman's modesty upon her children—in effect, he spoke directly to the maternal instinct; even a woman who was adamantly opposed to this practice might give it new consideration in light of the great spiritual benefits to her children.

While the Rebbe's position was seen as stringent by many, there were those who considered his stance lenient. There are communities where wigs are not deemed halachically acceptable at all, based on their similarity to a woman's hair. In others, women do wear wigs but cover them partially with a scarf or hat so as to signal that they are covering their hair. The Rebbe believed that there was no halachic obligation to cover the wig.

The Rebbe received queries from women who came from families or communities with long-standing traditions of completely covering hair with tight kerchiefs and/or wearing a double covering (i.e., a hat over a wig). In each case, the Rebbe patiently explained his position while encouraging them to continue in their family or community custom. In the letter below, we can see the twin tensions at work in the Rebbe's response:15

I have already stated my opinion that in present times, covering one's hair with a kerchief will not endure [and eventually the person will cease covering her hair]. The reason for this is that when wearing a kerchief, the woman is constantly put to the test—whether to cover all her hair or just part of it, etc., so that she not be embarrassed by those who scoff at her (although quite often this feeling may merely be a figment of imagination).

This is not at all the case with a wig; it is impossible to remove the wig [easily].… As to her wearing an exposed wig (a wig with no hat or other covering over it)—for the past several generations, this practice has become widely accepted. Understandably, however, it is necessary to ascertain the custom of your place so as to ensure that this does not constitute breaking a precedent, G‑d forbid.

In 1960, the Rebbe replied to a woman who wrote to him, concerning her difficulties in covering her hair with a wig while the other women in her community did not. In his response, the Rebbe pointed out that the homogeny of the American landscape was giving way to a new appreciation of, and pride in, diverse religions and ethnic cultures. Aside from his message concerning the importance of "fear of heaven," he urged her to take heart from shifting societal winds:16

In response to your letter where you write about a wig—that in the religious community where you now live this is not the custom. Consequently, you are embarrassed that they may laugh at you if you wear a wig:

We readily observe that wearing a hat or even a kerchief leaves part of the hair uncovered, at least for a short while, causing one to transgress a major prohibition.... The importance of having one's hair covered at all times is also understood from the reward that results from fulfilling this command in the manner commanded. In the words of the holy Zohar, it causes us to be "blessed with all blessings, blessings of above and blessings of below, with wealth, with children and grandchildren."

As regards to your writing that they may laugh at you and you will be embarrassed: Recently, even American youth have begun to honor and respect specifically those who stand firm in their faith. They do not feel embarrassed by those who scoff at them and their world outlook. To the contrary, they respond with scorn and derision to those who simply follow the majority without having any principles of their own.

The Rebbe himself offered numerous couples financial assistance for wig-buyingSurely you are aware that the entire four-part Code of Jewish Law opens with the statement that one should not be embarrassed by those people who scoff at one's service of G‑d. Moreover—and this, too, is quite simple and understandable: "G‑d fills heaven and earth" and man finds himself in His presence in all places and at all times. This is not so with regard to people; even those who live in close proximity are not always nearby. How can one not be embarrassed, Heaven forfend, before G‑d, and be embarrassed by mere mortals?!

Another way in which the Rebbe championed this cause was in conversations with brides and grooms, their parents, and others17 who would come to him for private audiences. According to numerous accounts, the Rebbe urged young couples to make buying a wig a high priority in pre-wedding planning. The Rebbe made a point of reminding the bride to buy the most beautiful wig she could find and to some, he specifically stressed the need for two, so that if one were being washed, the other would be available.18 In some cases, the Rebbe even made the groom responsible for this purchase. The Rebbe himself offered numerous couples financial assistance for wig-buying, and on at least two occasions, he gave an outright gift of the entire cost of the wig to individual women.19

During the first decade of his leadership (1950–60), the Rebbe served as the officiating rabbi at numerous weddings.20 Among the conditions he set for officiating was a commitment by the bride that she wear a wig after marriage. It was a great honor to have the Rebbe lead the ceremony, and from such an honor, many young women found the inspiration to start wearing wigs.

It is hair covering as a segulah, a source of blessing, that was the hallmark of the Rebbe's approach. In each of the aforementioned examples, and in hundreds of instances not cited, the Rebbe underscored the unique way in which this particular mitzvah serves as a conduit for bringing blessing to one's home and family, specifically the blessings of children and prosperity.21 The Rebbe never tired of quoting the words of the Zohar; it was, after all, his life's mission to bring blessings from below (material) and blessings from above (spiritual) into the lives of Jews. May we be so blessed always.

Footnotes
1.

New York's Jewish Jews: The Orthodox Community in the Interwar Years, pp. 20–21.

2.

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, Ramaz School Oral History Project, 1986, p. 2.

3.

To date, twenty-nine volumes of his correspondence have been published under the title Igros Kodesh, Kehot Publishing. They include selections from his correspondence through 1975.

4.

Magen Avraham, Orach Chaim 75:2, Tzemach Tzedek, Responsa Even Haezer 139.

5.

Likkutei Sichos, vol. 13, p. 188.

6.

III, p. 126a.

7.

It is clear that the Rebbe was not, through his stance, castigating previous generations of women who had covered their heads with scarves as there is no essential advantage to the wig over the scarf. As far back as Talmudic times, women wore a radid, a larger scarf over a smaller hat, that covered their heads. As such, even if hair protruded from the first hair covering, the strands were covered by the radid (See Talmud Ketubot 72a).

8.

In stark contradistinction to the later years when thousands of women attended regularly.

9.

For halachic sources which discuss natural-looking and specifically, human-hair wigs, and find them unobjectionable, see Shiltei Giborim on Rif, Shabbat 375, Yaskil Avdi, Even HaEzer 16 and Igrot Moshe, Even HaEzer, vol. II, 12.

10.

Igros Kodesh, vol. VIII, p. 182, dated 25 Shevat, 1954.

11.

Igros Kodesh vol. VIII, p. 217 dated 11 Adar, 1954.

12.

Igros Kodesh, vol. XIII, pp. 102–3 dated 25 Iyar 1956.

13.

Sichos Kodesh, vol. IX, p. 337.

14.

If the high priesthood is inherited through death, how is it considered a merit that Kimchit had seven sons, each of whom served in that capacity? Her son, Rabbi Ishmael, the regular High Priest, was temporarily ineligible to serve due to ritual impurity. Over time, each of his brothers had the opportunity to substitute him as High Priest. She did not, G‑d forbid, bury her sons (Tosafot Yeshanim, ad loc).

15.

Igros Kodesh, vol. XVI, pp. 330–1 dated 10 Adar, 1958.

16.

Igros Kodesh, vol. XIX, p. 428, dated 10 Elul, 1960.

17.

During a phone interview, Mrs. Freeda Kugel related the following: "I came from Israel as a young woman with small children and at the time, my husband was unable to find work so I became the breadwinner. In 1970, I had a small business as a wig stylist and on one occasion, in a private audience with the Rebbe, I complained about how difficult things were. I worked long hours and did not bring in enough money. The Rebbe told me not to worry, that my line would become very lucrative because every woman would need at least one wig for every day and one for Shabbat. The Rebbe then said that there will come a time when wig salons the world over will order wigs from me. I was stunned by the Rebbe's words. First, because women were not buying multiple wigs at that time. The human-hair wigs of the 1960s were truly ugly, and synthetic wigs had just come onto the scene. [At the time, Fashion Tress produced a line called Look of Love; this preceded the wig business of Georgie, Yaffa, and others.] Even more astounding was the Rebbe's reference to an international business which was beyond my wildest dreams.
Shortly after this exchange, women started traveling from the affluent Upper West Side to have their wigs done at my salon in Crown Heights. I considered this a direct result of the Rebbe's blessing.
In 1980, with the Rebbe's words echoing in my mind, I went to Korea in an attempt to start my own line of synthetic wigs. I was not particularly successful with this line; in fact, I was tired and discouraged, and with my husband now established in his own line of work, I took a hiatus from the business of wigs.
But with the advent of glasnost, my husband urged me to travel to the Soviet Union in search of European human hair for the "Shabbat" wigs the Rebbe had spoken of so many years earlier. My Korean adventure was not a total loss as I did learn a great deal about the manufacturing of wigs, and I never forgot the Rebbe's blessings. So I set out to seek the most beautiful human hair for sale in that vast and unknown territory.
Believe me when I tell you, all kinds of doors opened for me. I literally saw the fulfillment of the Rebbe's blessing. It was not without difficulty, but today I employ 150 people in my wig factory in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. My husband and children have joined me in the business, and wig salons from all over the world do indeed import the Freeda human hair wigs that so many women proudly wear on Shabbat."

18.

Mekadesh Yisroel, Kehot Publications, p. 291.

19.

"Just a few days after my affirmative response [concerning wearing a wig] had been given to the Rebbe, we received a phone call from Rabbi Krinsky that there was something important waiting for us at the Rebbe's office. Of course, my husband immediately went to his office, and I impatiently awaited his return. In a small white envelope was a personal check from the Rebbe, and with it came a special message that I should buy the most beautiful wig I could find; he said I should wear it in great happiness and joy. In a large flowered wig box on the top shelf of my closet is that first wig. It was custom-made by an outstanding wig stylist in Williamsburg. I wore it and wore it and wore it until the netting on the inside began to shred. Then I carefully mended it with loving care and patience. I always felt very special wearing that wig. And no matter how many wigs I have had since then, none were more wonderful than the first one. I always wore it with great happiness and pride and whenever someone would remark that I had lovely hair or a beautiful hairstyle, I would smile and respond with confidence that I was wearing a wig because I was an Orthodox Jewish woman (excerpted from The Letter by Chana Sharfstein, printed in the N'shei Chabad Newsletter, December, 1993).

20.

The Rebbe officiated at weddings before this point, but not in his capacity as Rebbe, and he did make an exception for a few couples between 1960–63. After this time, because of the exponential growth of the Lubavitch community and the Rebbe's myriad involvements, the Rebbe no longer officiated at weddings (see Mekadesh Yisroel).

21.

Igros Kodesh, vol. XIX, pp. 326–7 and vol. VII, p. 259.

Rivkah Slonim is the education director at the Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life at Binghamton University. An internationally known teacher, lecturer and activist, she travels widely, addressing the intersection of traditional Jewish observance and contemporary life, with a special focus on Jewish women in Jewish law and life. Slonim is the editor of Total Immersion: A Mikvah Anthology (Jason Aronson, 1996; Urim, 2006) and Bread and Fire: Jewish Women Find God in the Everyday (Urim, 2008). Slonim and her husband are the grateful and proud parents of nine children.
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Ben July 2, 2015

In ancient Egypt at times married women (and even some men) would cut their hair short and wear wigs. Short hair or even a shaved head was cooler and prevented lice, while a wig was worn to dress up for formal events. It is possible that ancient Jews used such head coverings at some point. Reply

Sigalit G. New Mexico, USA March 15, 2015

I do not consider myself an Orthodox Jewish woman; I do, however, cover my hair at all times. My husband of 23 years tells me I have gorgeous hair, and I am happy that he likes it. My "crowning glory" though, is something I save for him because our bond/relationship is a treasure and a gift. The interesting thing to me is that because there are so few Jews in my area, my covered head is NOT understood at all. I am assumed to be a cancer victim, or part of a polygamous sect, or similar bizarre ideas. It hasn't changed my choice to cover my hair, but it has been a real eye opener about the need for education as a foundation for tolerance in our country. Reply

sheva Framingham March 12, 2015

thank you for a well written and well researched article. my mother covered her hair when she would light shabbat candles. the association between a mitzvah and hair covering was established. fast forward to the 60's and a new material, kanekalon, the fibre that went into the plentiful, affordable synthetic wigs that flooded the market. everyone could own a wig, (even high school classmates). it was pretty much a no brainer for me that i would choose to cover my hair with a wig. when women want to do a mitzvah, hashem removes all obstacles. look at the wig industry, especially synthetics. it's so easy. Reply

Sophia March 11, 2015

Does a single woman who has a child have to cover her hair. Reply

M Caulfield March 10, 2015

teach men to control their feelings and get going with your life. Reply

Anonymous Ramat bet Shemesh March 10, 2015

i was married 25 years before i started covering my hair My bubbie wore a sheitel until she came to America and altho they were dati , my zayde didnt insist she continue to wear one In my day, hats were worn to shul and some hats they were!
My rav now a gadol hador gave classes on tzniyut and spoke about married women covering their hair I decided that it was a mitzva i wanted to undertake
I dont wear sheitels much , but i do have a collection of 'kasketim" as they are called in Israel Hats w/brims like caps but prettier In the house i wear snoods but my hair is always covered
I feel that wearing head covering is like wear a crown of malchut And since we are all daughters if Hashem it is a good family to join Reply

Rivkah Slonim Vestal October 13, 2014

Deena,
There is no indication in this article or anywhere else that the Zohar mentions wigs.
The Rebbe does cite the Zohar and what it says about a woman completely covering
her hair, and the Rebbe did favor wigs over other hair coverings, but this should not be conflated with mention of wigs in Zohar. Reply

Deena Caulfield North October 13, 2014

The Zohar is circa 11th century or there about - so head coverings wouldn't have been sheitels. The earliest Jewish women used the sheitel as a head covering was the seventeenth century, but it became widely worn only in the 1800's despite the violent opposition of religious authorities (numerous rabbinical responsa were issued on the matter). Tsarist legislation on Jewish dress codes contributed to its rise in popularity; a decree banned Jewish women from using traditional headdresses, yet allowed them to wear wigs. In the lower classes, wigs made of thread were used, while those of wealthier women were made of natural hair, often modeled after the latest hairstyles.
Before that time traditional fabric head coverings were used. Reply

Anonymous October 13, 2013

If covering hair makes one feel embarrassed maybe men should start wearing wigs instead of Kippas in places where there are no Jews? Or maybe they should shave their beards and peyot as has become popular? Maybe it's fine to some but it seems to me that there is something intrinsically wrong with hiding or being embarrassed of our traditions. Reply

Anonymous October 10, 2013

Any form of head covering in the West has often been perceived with negative notions. But this article shows that in Judaism, a religious and married Jewish woman covers her head to make a statement , and express her allegiance to her people and Judaism. Reply

Susan Addelston NYC, NY,USA March 21, 2012

So is one then to conclude that the Matriarchs - Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, Rachel, Naomi, Ruth - all wore wigs? Did Eve? Did Judith & Deborah? Did Hannah? And, clearly, if they didn't do so - how did all of the blessings and mitzvot attributed to them come to pass? Yet again- a male imposed restriction/expense on women's autonomy. Tragic. Have we learned nothing since the Age of Reason? Reply

Anonymous Passaic, NJ January 9, 2012

yes wigs nowadays are both beautiful and realistic. Although realistic doesnt mean its real. A painting might be realistic however it still remains just a painting.

You can walk on the street and see beautiful wigs, and for some people (who are not attuned to noticing it) will never notice it.
Yet, if you are familiar with wigs, they are usually quite easy to spot. I can even tell when I look at the tv, when an actress is wearing one, yet millions of fans will never notice.
I usually wear a scarf (it's our custom) yet when I go to my parents, where there are no jews, I wear a wig. My parents know full well that this is not my hair, yet when we go out in public, I doubt there is one person thinking... hmmm is that her hair?.
I can be in a social context, comfortable without being self-conscious about scarfs and what will people say. Reply

Alexander Cleveland , Ohio August 16, 2011

"When a Jewish woman walks in the street without a hair covering, there is not a discernible difference between her and others. However, when she wears a wig, one can tell that here is a Jewish religious woman."

Beautiful and realistic doesn't seem to have meant the same thing at least at some point. How can one see in the street that this is a married jewish woman if the hair looks natural? Reply

F New York, NY October 31, 2010

It is perfectly alll right to look beautiful in your wig, better than in your own hair. Judaism is not ascetic. YOU feel the wig on your head; and you know you are wearing it for religious reasons, not fashion reasons. Every minute, unconsciously, you know you are not alone, G-d is running the world. This reassures you. People know you are wearing a wig, and respect you for doing this, treat you better. They know it isn't an easy mitzvah. They think it is harder than it actually is. And it doesn't hurt that you look terrific.

SYNTHETIC HAIR wigs look GREAT these days! No need to spend a lot of money. Reply

Anonymous brooklyn, ny July 16, 2009

I've always wondered why Jewish women wear wigs, and I have to say when I asked them their answer always disappointed me. Their answer was always out of modesty, a woman should cover her hair as a symbol that she is married and that no other man should look at her. Sad to say, now a day that tradition has become a fashion statement, since most women wear wigs that look better than their hair. And as a Jew who is looking to truly believe and follow the religion based on understanding before doing, I was very much satisfied with the above article. I've always thought against wearing a wig, but I think that this article has given me a slight reason to consider it.
Thank you Reply