The Importance of a Sheitel

1. Wearing a sheitel has a beneficial impact on children and grandchildren, sustenance and health, as the Zohar states (III, 126a) that a woman's covering her hair has a positive effect on children, health, and sustenance.

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

First of all, we do not know what is happening with the other person, what type of travails they are undergoing; no one tells the other about all that transpires in their life. Second of all, we are not to look at what is happening with the other; we are to do that which G‑d commanded us to do.

(The Rebbe mentioned here that "we are a minority among the nations.") There are more gentiles than Jews in this world, and things are going well for them. Does that mean 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 sheitel there is no (discernible) difference between her and others. However, when she wears a sheitel 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 ... who is one embarrassed of? Of one's friend? Should they say that this is a religious Jew what is the shame of the matter?!

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

When one goes, for example, to a doctor one does not understand why he prescribes a particular medicine, but he is believed and relied upon. Or if an infant is not digesting its milk and a doctor changes the formula, will the mother whose child is lying in the cradle say that she will wait until she attends five years of university so that she understands the doctor's reasoning, and only then follow his advice?

There was a university student who came to me and said that he does not put on tefillin or wear tzitzis because he does not understand why he should do so. The reason for opposing a sheitel is because one does not understand intellectually the need for it. Why not simply rely on G‑d? When one is asked to give a dollar and is promised a thousand dollars in its stead, one readily does so even when one doubts that he will receive the thousand dollars.

The difference between a sheitel and a kerchief is the following: It is easy to take off a kerchief, which is not the case with a sheitel. When one is at a gathering and wears a sheitel , then even if President Eisenhower were to enter the room she would not take off the sheitel. This is not so with a kerchief which can easily be taken off.

The objection that wearing a sheitel was not made a condition of the match prior to the wedding, is not at all convincing. Does wearing a sheitel have anything to do with keeping one's word? It should be worn because it brings true good fortune to the husband, the wife, to children and grandchildren.

In the past the custom was to cut off the hair. Later on the custom spread of wearing a sheitel. Wearing a sheitel is especially appropriate now, when one can obtain a sheitel in various shades, which looks 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 sheitel but only a kerchief: because she knows that a sheitel cannot be taken off when she is walking in the street or is at a gathering, while a kerchief can be moved all the way up and sometimes taken off entirely, as known from practice.

It is possible that she will say that she will wear a kerchief properly. If she does so, then surely it is well. But experience has shown that this is not the case.

Why place oneself in the path of temptation? We beseech G‑d prior to our prayers, "Do not bring us into temptation." Who is greater than King David concerning whom the Gemara states that he completely vanquished his Evil Inclination, and nevertheless he did not withstand the test.

Even the reformers do not say that a sheitel is counter to ethics, only that it is old-fashioned. What then is there to fear? Let it be said that here goes a Jewish daughter.

My father-in-law related that the city of Frankfurt had very religious Jews their piety made a name for them over all of Germany. This notwithstanding the fact that previously Frankfurt was filled with freethinkers. All this came about in the merit of three women who were firm in their resolve to wear a sheitel , observe family purity and provide their children with a kosher education. This had an effect on the men and other women. With the passage of time the community of Frankfurt changed for the better.

From a Sicha of the Rebbe, Rosh Chodesh Elul 5714

2. In response to your request for a blessing that it should be a "Chassidic home," surely you on your part are doing whatever you can to affect her in this spirit.

Wearing a sheitel is of primary importance to the fundament of the entire home, as this is something which is perceived by all. Especially so as I have heard that there has started to be some laxness in this matter, i.e., with regard to wearing a sheitel. Thus it is of the greatest import that one be tenacious about this matter that it is impossible otherwise.

Surely, your desire will help you find the right words to succeed in bringing this about.

Excerpt from Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 232

3. In response to your letter in which you write that you are not clear about the purpose of wearing a sheitel :

The purpose of a sheitel is that the hair be completely covered if only a portion of the hair is covered then it does not accomplish this purpose.

You should also see to it that others act in a like manner, explaining to them that this is the path and segulah to health, sustenance and true nachas from children.

Excerpt from Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 217

4. With reference to the question of a sheitel about which you wrote that you object to it on the grounds that it is old-fashioned, etc., let me say that the true approach to matters of Torah and Mitzvos is not from the point of view of whether they are considered old-fashioned or new-fashioned. We observe the Torah and Mitzvos because they are directives from the Creator of the world and of man. It is self-understood that the Creator knows what is best for man and that He desires that man should be happy and not only in the World to Come, but also in this life. This is the reason why the Torah is called Toras Chayim , meaning that it is a guide to the good life on this earth.

Specifically on the question of a sheitel let me quote here the words of the holy Zohar (III, 126a) which are quoted in Mishnah Brurah , and I will quote only the positive results mentioned there omitting the negative aspects: "Her children will be superior... her husband will be blessed with spiritual and material blessings, with wealth, children and children's children."

Considering the great reward which is promised to the woman and mother who wears a sheitel , it should surely be worthwhile to do so even if the wearing of a sheitel would entail serious difficulties and conflicts. How much more so where the objection to it, as you write, is only because it is "old fashioned." This is not a real objection, nor a valid one, and it is rather based on the "opinion" of others.

Let me also add that even considering the general attitude towards this and other Mitzvos, there has been a radical change in recent years; one of respect and admiration for people who are consistent and live up to their convictions and ideals, and are not influenced by the mob. There may always be some individual who might make a joke about a person's convictions, but where a person is sincerely dedicated to his faith, such a person can only call forth respect and admiration.

Furthermore, if you will eventually settle in a Jewish Orthodox neighborhood, you will find that other young women will wish to emulate your good example, and thus you will have the additional merit of being instrumental in influencing others in the right way. The reverse is also true, for a Jew must always consider how his or her conduct affect others. This should be an additional consideration why you should overcome your superficial objection to wearing a sheitel.

It is no less important to bear in mind that marriage is called "An everlasting edifice," meaning that it is an everlasting institution which is of vital importance not only for the husband and wife, but also for future generations. Every parent desires to ensure the happiness of children and will do everything possible to take out the utmost measure of such insurance.

Of course, you might point to this one or that one who do not wear a sheitel. However, it is surely unnecessary to point out that every person may have a particular weakness, and if one is to follow the principle "He is wise, who learns from every person," he will be wise to learn from only the person's strong and positive qualities and not from his weak ones.

Excerpt from a letter of the Rebbe, Chanukah 5721

A Sheitel And Not (Only)A Kerchief, Shawl, Or Hat

1. In response to your letter where you write about a sheitel 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 sheitel :

The general idea of wearing a sheitel and not sufficing with a hat or kerchief is explained in many places. We verily observe that wearing a hat or even a kerchief leaves part of the hair uncovered, at least for a short while, i.e., causing one to transgress a major prohibition, as explained in Shulchan Aruch , Orach Chayim ch. 75.

The importance of having the hair covered at all times is also understood from the reward for fulfilling this command in the manner in which we were 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, etc.:

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 outlook on the world. To the contrary, they respond with scorn and derision to those who simply follow the majority without having any principles of their own. Surely you know that the entire four-part Shulchan Aruch 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 very understandable: "G‑d fills heaven and earth," and finds Himself with man in all places and at all times. This is not so with regard to people even those who lively extremely close are not always close at hand. Thus, how can it possibly be that one is not embarrassed, G‑d forbid, before G‑d, and rather is embarrassed by people who are flesh and blood!

Excerpt from Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIX, p. 428

2. In response to your letter where you write about Kisui HaRosh :

I have already stated my opinion on many occasions that in present generations covering one's hair with a kerchief will not last, for each and every time the woman is 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 (although it may only be a figment of her imagination, and sometimes it is actually so).

This is not at all the case with a sheitel , for it is impossible to remove the sheitel when one is at a gathering and the like. Especially so, since as you write that she will cut her hair and that both of you agree to this, then this is the best possible way.

As to her going with an uncovered sheitel : For the last several generations already this has not been looked upon unfavorably at all. Understandably, however, it is necessary to ascertain the custom in your place if this does not constitute breaking a precedent, G‑d forbid.

Excerpt from Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVI, pp. 330-331

3. As to your inquiry about the difference between covering one's hair with a sheitel and covering one's hair with a kerchief:

The difference is simple indeed. When the hair is covered with a kerchief and one meets a non-religious friend or acquaintance, then quite often the kerchief "slides up" or disappears altogether into the pocket. This, of course, cannot be done with a sheitel. Ultimately, keeping the hair constantly covered then becomes second nature.

Excerpt from Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 186