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Jerusalem - Exhibition Examines Issue of Women's Head Covering in Orthodox Judaism

Published on: April 22, 2009 11:01 PM
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Post-secular notion (Photo: Sigal Edelman)Post-secular notion (Photo: Sigal Edelman)
Jerusalem - So, what does a women’s head covering look like? The immediate answer would be a hat or a scarf, but the eight artists participating in the “Glu-ya” exhibition, which opens at the Lifschitz Teachers’ College in Jerusalem on Thursday, have a rather different perception of the issue.

Head covering for women is a significant topic in the modern ultra-orthodox discourse. The artists – two men and six women, share with the viewers their contemplations: Some from a critical perspective, others from an emphatic one or as a challenging foundation for artistic creation.

The possibility of examining the issue through emphatic eyes can be seen in the work of Micha Simchon, “Covered Women”, which seeks to examine the subject not as an act of female oppression by men, but rather as a celebration of women’s free choice in a world where freedom from religion and freedom of religion are considered equal expressions of personal choice.

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Sigal Edelman, in her photographed portraits “Women in Black and White”, raises a similar question: Six women were photographed twice – once as secular figures and once as religious figures wearing a head covering. This work stems from a “post-secular” notion, which asserts that “secularism” and “religiousness” are not opposites, but rather interrelated terms.

A different, critical view is presented by artist Hana Goldberg, who painted a woman whose head covering has been replaced with a transparent nylon bag that covers her entire head. Pnina Geffen’s video, “Woman’s Hair”, expresses the complexity and delicate variety hat exist in a world loyal to Orthodox Halacha.

 



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Read Comments (41)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Apr 22, 2009 at 10:45 PM Babishka Says:

I thought there was something weird-looking about the top row--then read he just put tichels on some secular women, who appear as themselves in the bottom row.

2

 Apr 22, 2009 at 10:39 PM Anonymous Says:

Stam Shtisim! Abi Geredt!
They do not even begin to understand what a head covering entails in the Jewish womens lives.

3

 Apr 22, 2009 at 10:58 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

Stam Shtisim! Abi Geredt!
They do not even begin to understand what a head covering entails in the Jewish womens lives.

And what exactly is it that a head covering entails in a Jewish woman's life?

4

 Apr 22, 2009 at 11:20 PM Anonymous Says:

some subjects r better left to the people who knw the rules. if a lady has a issue with covering her hair that's between her and husband soemthngs r better not to get involved in

5

 Apr 22, 2009 at 11:08 PM head covered and proud Says:

Head covering for women is a significant topic in the modern ultra-orthodox discourse. -----It is a significant topic among all frum women.

6

 Apr 22, 2009 at 11:08 PM bytheway! Says:

does anyone realise that they make them look more fat with the hair covering ?

7

 Apr 23, 2009 at 05:44 AM Anonymous Says:

No, they make them look more feminine which is something #'s 2 and 3 desperately need. Now about #2's hat, I thought that style went out in 1925 or so. I see them all around Jerusalem and I hate them. They not only don't flatter ANY face, they make even attractive women look dowdy and frumpy which is NOT necessary. A beautiful scarf in attractive colors and tied artistically can do much to enhance a woman's look without being a "turn on."

8

 Apr 23, 2009 at 06:43 AM Anonymous Says:

Sounds like a Nazi-style study

9

 Apr 23, 2009 at 02:59 AM rebbetzin hockstein Says:

Reply to #6  
bytheway! Says:

does anyone realise that they make them look more fat with the hair covering ?

I think that they all look better covered than uncovered. Not fat at all, but rather b'chaynt! Even though these head coverings were worn as "costumes" the ladies still appear (to me, anyway) to be more attractive when covered.

10

 Apr 23, 2009 at 06:59 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
rebbetzin hockstein Says:

I think that they all look better covered than uncovered. Not fat at all, but rather b'chaynt! Even though these head coverings were worn as "costumes" the ladies still appear (to me, anyway) to be more attractive when covered.

If so, then wouldn't it be more modest to go uncovered?

11

 Apr 23, 2009 at 07:49 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

And what exactly is it that a head covering entails in a Jewish woman's life?

I'm increasingly afraid that the real agenda is the oppression of women, I'm still traumatized by what an outraged friend told me about the Lasko Pesach program at the Fort Lauderdale Hyatt Bonaventure she attended. They covered up all the wall photos of women like the mirrors in a shiva house! I'm all for religious freedom --but that's worse even than Hamodia and what and awful and disgusting lesson to teach the kids there -- that the way to deal with a woman who might threaten a man in any way is to erase her existence.

12

 Apr 23, 2009 at 08:05 AM Frum Woman Says:

Reply to #10  
Anonymous Says:

If so, then wouldn't it be more modest to go uncovered?

LOL

But, not really.

I understand where you are coming from, (smile), but halacha, as we see it, views the hair of a married woman to be similar in "sensitivity" (my choice of word) to a woman's "Private Parts."

And, thus, since we are not permitted to show our private parts, we may not show our hair. And, just as we do not WISH to display our private parts, we do not WISH to display our hair.

If a woman has ugly "private" parts, may she go around naked?
Of course not. The same with our hair. It is a "Private Part" for us.

But, the equation: HAIR = "PRIVATE PARTS" in the key.
That is why really tzniusdik women cover every drop of our hair.
Many, good, fine, women have not been taught this, and therefore do not understand this, and think it is just a beauty or "enticing" thing, and thus look for leniencies. But if we all understood that showing an inch of hair is the same as showing an inch of our "Private Parts" we all would cover up completely.

13

 Apr 23, 2009 at 08:29 AM Yeshivish in Flatbush Says:

Reply to #11  
Anonymous Says:

I'm increasingly afraid that the real agenda is the oppression of women, I'm still traumatized by what an outraged friend told me about the Lasko Pesach program at the Fort Lauderdale Hyatt Bonaventure she attended. They covered up all the wall photos of women like the mirrors in a shiva house! I'm all for religious freedom --but that's worse even than Hamodia and what and awful and disgusting lesson to teach the kids there -- that the way to deal with a woman who might threaten a man in any way is to erase her existence.

Foks, we do not only look at our women's hair under the "turn on" concept.
Rather we also look on our women's hair under the "Parts that stay covered" concept.

Just as I would not want my wife or mother going "Topless" or naked in the street, so I would not want my wife or mother going out with her hair uncovered.
It is kind of the same thing.

It does not mean, G-d forbid, that we find any "shame" in our wives or mothers, or in their hair, it is just that we do not show them off. Sort of a decency thing.

Also, we hold that one may not daven, or even say Kerias Shema if one is "able to see" ANY uncovered hair of a married woman. Just like if we were trapped in a room with a naked woman, we could not say Kerias Shema, the same if we are in a room with a woman whose hair is uncovered.
That is EVEN IF THE TIME FOR KERIAS SHEMA IS EXPIRING! If we can't leave the room or block our vision is a physical way, we can't say kerias shema.
That is one of the main reasons for a full-height, opaque mechitza.

Even in R. Moshe's teshuvas on Mechitza height, in the Igros Moshe, he did discuss a "minimum height" but them added later on, that all this was "assuming" that we were talking about a shul where the women fully covered their hair and arms. But, if the women sometimes came with their hair partially uncovered, or their arms uncovered, they the mechitza needed to be tall enough and opaque enough so anyone davening would not be able to see such sights.

Just closing one's eyes, or looking away is NOT enough. There must be a physical barrier.
That is why you will see chassidim of a rebbe, or talmidim of the Rosh Yeshiva, form a line to block the view of an inproperly dressed woman from his eyes. Who wants to be walking on the street, and be forced into the position where one may not say Kerias Shema or think about Torah, etc., It is actually ossur to look, as we don't even want to look by accident.

My wife wears a full teechel, and I love it. She has me "clean up" the back of her neck every week or so, so that nothing shows from the back between here collar and the teechel.

I am a Yeshivish man in Flatbush, but you could not tell my wife apart from the Chassidishe women of Willi or KJ. She always were suits, and black tights and a full teechel.
She does not feel "opressed" in any way.

Rather she feels "TREASURED" by me as well as by Hashem, and dresses this way with total voluntary happiness.

14

 Apr 23, 2009 at 08:48 AM Rus Says:

What I know is halacha says you can show a tefach of hair in the front of your head which happens sometimes when a scarf is worn. To be more machmir than halacha is a stringency. So for a woman who wants to follow halacha, it is important to ask your rav and not depend on "what I know." Choose your rav carefully, my dear sisters, because you not only follow their stringencies, you have to follow their leniencies.
I think the women look nice in both pictures. Let us realize that our enemies are not going to ask us if we are religious or not religious.
In the USA, it is "Take your child to work day" today. I just came home from work where at shift change I was greeted by sleepy youngsters trailing their parents. I think it would be awesome if we could have a "cover-your-hair day" and do fun events on that day.
Shalom

15

 Apr 23, 2009 at 08:45 AM Anonymous Says:

Once you see the words "ULTRA Orthodox" you know it is an "ANTI Observant" article. The word "Ultra Orthodox" is used to marginalize a group which people want to either make fun of, or have the reader consider "foolishly over the line."

16

 Apr 23, 2009 at 08:41 AM Married Satmar Girl Says:

Reply to #12  
Frum Woman Says:

LOL

But, not really.

I understand where you are coming from, (smile), but halacha, as we see it, views the hair of a married woman to be similar in "sensitivity" (my choice of word) to a woman's "Private Parts."

And, thus, since we are not permitted to show our private parts, we may not show our hair. And, just as we do not WISH to display our private parts, we do not WISH to display our hair.

If a woman has ugly "private" parts, may she go around naked?
Of course not. The same with our hair. It is a "Private Part" for us.

But, the equation: HAIR = "PRIVATE PARTS" in the key.
That is why really tzniusdik women cover every drop of our hair.
Many, good, fine, women have not been taught this, and therefore do not understand this, and think it is just a beauty or "enticing" thing, and thus look for leniencies. But if we all understood that showing an inch of hair is the same as showing an inch of our "Private Parts" we all would cover up completely.

How very well written.

I am 26 years old, and was raised in Williamsburg and dress in seemed stockings, with a shpitz and teechel. Not a millimeter of my hair ever shows out. Under my teechel I have less than a 1/2" of hair by the way.

My sleeves are always to my wrists, and my necklines are always to my neck.
My suit skirts are always mid calf or lower.

AND I LOVE IT!

My wonderful hubby and I both are on the same page on this. We both love that I dress tznius this way.
I joke around sometimes and say he is "showing more leg" than I am, with his kurtz hoisen and vaaser zokin on Shabbos. (short pants and white socks)
And we are a very loving couple who have a lot of fun together.

It is a crying shame that outsiders believe we don't want to be like this. Or that we are "opressed women." My friends and I laugh at this false concept. We are all very happy, have good marriages, good lives, enjoy life, but cover ourselves in public ... VOLUNTARILY... and would not have it any other way.

17

 Apr 23, 2009 at 08:36 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #12  
Frum Woman Says:

LOL

But, not really.

I understand where you are coming from, (smile), but halacha, as we see it, views the hair of a married woman to be similar in "sensitivity" (my choice of word) to a woman's "Private Parts."

And, thus, since we are not permitted to show our private parts, we may not show our hair. And, just as we do not WISH to display our private parts, we do not WISH to display our hair.

If a woman has ugly "private" parts, may she go around naked?
Of course not. The same with our hair. It is a "Private Part" for us.

But, the equation: HAIR = "PRIVATE PARTS" in the key.
That is why really tzniusdik women cover every drop of our hair.
Many, good, fine, women have not been taught this, and therefore do not understand this, and think it is just a beauty or "enticing" thing, and thus look for leniencies. But if we all understood that showing an inch of hair is the same as showing an inch of our "Private Parts" we all would cover up completely.

I am afraid that you're missing the point, the truth is that in the old days it was the custom of all the women to cover the head, so so when they discovered it was very attractive to men, the same is today when a orthodox women would by incident be uncovered, shy would be much more attractive!

18

 Apr 23, 2009 at 09:35 AM Anonymous Says:

"What I know is halacha says you can show a tefach of hair in the front of your head which happens sometimes when a scarf is worn"

Actually, the psak given was that if a tefach of hair is showing, it is ok _BDIEVED_. This tefach includes the entire amount of hair, which means about a fingerswidth across from ear to ear. This psak did not mean that it is mutar LCHATCHILA to start your headcovering further back than the hairline on purpose, rather that if a woman wears a tichel and it slips back slightly, she is not oyver, just needs to fix it.

Somehow, this psak became "generalized" by women who do not understand the concept of covering hair, and want to look for the minimal amount they have to cover. Many of these women will purposely tie a tichel further back, or buy a fall and brush their own hair out over the front so it looks more "natural"

As was stated before, the married woman's hair is "erva", just like all other private parts of her body and should be covered in any situation where those parts are covered.

As a yiddishe woman, I am a Bas Melech, and my head covering is my "crown." I am proud to wear it, not oppressed or inhibited by it.

19

 Apr 23, 2009 at 09:32 AM Getzel the Pretzel Says:

All the am haratzes here, whether the exhibition or the blogs, is overwhelming. The makor for covering your hair is from sotah, based on the gemara Kesubos 72. The private parts issue is based on the gemara Beroshos 24. 2 seperate topics.

The attractive issue is based on the Be'er Sheva responsa 18. Also see Maharil Diskin. There is more to say on this subject but I will let you read all the other "whatever I am in the mood to write" blogs.

20

 Apr 23, 2009 at 10:28 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #19  
Getzel the Pretzel Says:

All the am haratzes here, whether the exhibition or the blogs, is overwhelming. The makor for covering your hair is from sotah, based on the gemara Kesubos 72. The private parts issue is based on the gemara Beroshos 24. 2 seperate topics.

The attractive issue is based on the Be'er Sheva responsa 18. Also see Maharil Diskin. There is more to say on this subject but I will let you read all the other "whatever I am in the mood to write" blogs.

Everything you say is true.
But we live according to the Achronim shel HuAchronim.
Their takonos and chumros are our "halacha" now.

I am not on the madraiga of the tanuim or amoiruim. I need more of a geder than they.

21

 Apr 23, 2009 at 10:36 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #19  
Getzel the Pretzel Says:

All the am haratzes here, whether the exhibition or the blogs, is overwhelming. The makor for covering your hair is from sotah, based on the gemara Kesubos 72. The private parts issue is based on the gemara Beroshos 24. 2 seperate topics.

The attractive issue is based on the Be'er Sheva responsa 18. Also see Maharil Diskin. There is more to say on this subject but I will let you read all the other "whatever I am in the mood to write" blogs.

Remember, just as the person whose rov allows that tefach may follow that, those of us whose rov prohibits even a tiny bit of hair exposed must follow that.

22

 Apr 23, 2009 at 10:34 AM Seminary Teacher Says:

Reply to #14  
Rus Says:

What I know is halacha says you can show a tefach of hair in the front of your head which happens sometimes when a scarf is worn. To be more machmir than halacha is a stringency. So for a woman who wants to follow halacha, it is important to ask your rav and not depend on "what I know." Choose your rav carefully, my dear sisters, because you not only follow their stringencies, you have to follow their leniencies.
I think the women look nice in both pictures. Let us realize that our enemies are not going to ask us if we are religious or not religious.
In the USA, it is "Take your child to work day" today. I just came home from work where at shift change I was greeted by sleepy youngsters trailing their parents. I think it would be awesome if we could have a "cover-your-hair day" and do fun events on that day.
Shalom

Rus, Some day a Tefach. Most day an "Etzba" or "Finger-breadth"
Most of the Chassidishe rabbonim and some other rabbonim today say any hair at all. So, though you may choose to follow the "Tefach" leniency, and that is your right if that is what your rov allows, keep this in mind:
Just as you don't want the people who are more machmir to impose their views on you, so you should not impose your views on them.
They hold that they may not even daven if they are ABLE to see a drop of your hair. Many say a drop is okay, but if they can see an a full finger-breath they can't daven and can't even look. Many actually need to leave the room.
So, out of courtesy to them, when you walk into a room where you are likely to find people like this, it is common courtesy to cover up that tefach.
Some women do this by "adjusting" their snood, scarf, or whatever they are using.
Others keep a fuller teechel on them for times like this.

Courtesy goes both ways. We respect each other. Don't force other men to have to walk out or make them uncomfortable, just to excersize your RIGHT to expose a tefach.

23

 Apr 23, 2009 at 11:57 AM realistic Says:

Reply to #22  
Seminary Teacher Says:

Rus, Some day a Tefach. Most day an "Etzba" or "Finger-breadth"
Most of the Chassidishe rabbonim and some other rabbonim today say any hair at all. So, though you may choose to follow the "Tefach" leniency, and that is your right if that is what your rov allows, keep this in mind:
Just as you don't want the people who are more machmir to impose their views on you, so you should not impose your views on them.
They hold that they may not even daven if they are ABLE to see a drop of your hair. Many say a drop is okay, but if they can see an a full finger-breath they can't daven and can't even look. Many actually need to leave the room.
So, out of courtesy to them, when you walk into a room where you are likely to find people like this, it is common courtesy to cover up that tefach.
Some women do this by "adjusting" their snood, scarf, or whatever they are using.
Others keep a fuller teechel on them for times like this.

Courtesy goes both ways. We respect each other. Don't force other men to have to walk out or make them uncomfortable, just to excersize your RIGHT to expose a tefach.

Well these men who I highly respect for there commitment and respect for the Halachah, shouldn't be looking at other woman if they are so careful, your not allowed to even get satisfaction from the pinky of a woman...... lets get real there a very few genuine people like that these days.

24

 Apr 23, 2009 at 12:11 PM FVNMS Says:

Something interesting to share: R" Zamir Cohen's book, The Coming Revolution, has an interesting chapter on "auras." To make a long story short, photos were taken of secular people with a special (Kirlian) camera and then the same people were photgraphed either donning tfillin or tichel. The "after" shots showed an improved aura. A bit out there, I know, and I don't fully understand the whole aura concept. Just food for thought. Seriously awesome book, by the way.

25

 Apr 23, 2009 at 01:48 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #13  
Yeshivish in Flatbush Says:

Foks, we do not only look at our women's hair under the "turn on" concept.
Rather we also look on our women's hair under the "Parts that stay covered" concept.

Just as I would not want my wife or mother going "Topless" or naked in the street, so I would not want my wife or mother going out with her hair uncovered.
It is kind of the same thing.

It does not mean, G-d forbid, that we find any "shame" in our wives or mothers, or in their hair, it is just that we do not show them off. Sort of a decency thing.

Also, we hold that one may not daven, or even say Kerias Shema if one is "able to see" ANY uncovered hair of a married woman. Just like if we were trapped in a room with a naked woman, we could not say Kerias Shema, the same if we are in a room with a woman whose hair is uncovered.
That is EVEN IF THE TIME FOR KERIAS SHEMA IS EXPIRING! If we can't leave the room or block our vision is a physical way, we can't say kerias shema.
That is one of the main reasons for a full-height, opaque mechitza.

Even in R. Moshe's teshuvas on Mechitza height, in the Igros Moshe, he did discuss a "minimum height" but them added later on, that all this was "assuming" that we were talking about a shul where the women fully covered their hair and arms. But, if the women sometimes came with their hair partially uncovered, or their arms uncovered, they the mechitza needed to be tall enough and opaque enough so anyone davening would not be able to see such sights.

Just closing one's eyes, or looking away is NOT enough. There must be a physical barrier.
That is why you will see chassidim of a rebbe, or talmidim of the Rosh Yeshiva, form a line to block the view of an inproperly dressed woman from his eyes. Who wants to be walking on the street, and be forced into the position where one may not say Kerias Shema or think about Torah, etc., It is actually ossur to look, as we don't even want to look by accident.

My wife wears a full teechel, and I love it. She has me "clean up" the back of her neck every week or so, so that nothing shows from the back between here collar and the teechel.

I am a Yeshivish man in Flatbush, but you could not tell my wife apart from the Chassidishe women of Willi or KJ. She always were suits, and black tights and a full teechel.
She does not feel "opressed" in any way.

Rather she feels "TREASURED" by me as well as by Hashem, and dresses this way with total voluntary happiness.

Its a little suspicious that its you, not her saying she's "treasured." I'd be dead interested in how she really feels about your no doubt well-intentioned but deeply offensive regard for protecting your gender's ability to recite keriyat shema. I'm sure Hashem is just delighted at the lengths you go to render 51% of his creation invisible.

26

 Apr 23, 2009 at 02:21 PM Satmar Man Says:

Reply to #25  
Anonymous Says:

Its a little suspicious that its you, not her saying she's "treasured." I'd be dead interested in how she really feels about your no doubt well-intentioned but deeply offensive regard for protecting your gender's ability to recite keriyat shema. I'm sure Hashem is just delighted at the lengths you go to render 51% of his creation invisible.

To those who are bothered by the "extreme" measure you believe we take to cover our women:

If you were visiting a religious group of another faith, maybe the Amish, or some other one, and they asked you to cover this or cover that, you would instantly and eagerly comply. You would talk about not offending their religious beliefs.

You would not give THEM these arguments you gave above.

But, since we are of the same religion, all fellow brother Jews, you seem to forget to give us the same respect and tolerance you would give to religious members of other faiths.

Can you just live and let live?

You do your thing in your neighborhoods and your shuls where you all paskin your way. But if you come to a shul or setting where we are more machmir, respect us too.

Tolerance works both ways, you know. (smile)

You would not call someone else's (of a different religion) religious practices "deeply offensive"

Please do not call ours such.

27

 Apr 23, 2009 at 02:20 PM Jewish mother Says:

When I first saw this, I was kind of hoping it was a hat show. I have about 50 hats similar to #2. I have been wearing them since I am married (22 years). I do not care if they are in style, they are MY style. My husband loves the way I dress and often tells me so. I try to copy the look of Queen Elizabeth whose head and body are always modestly covered. The Queen is the epitome of an authoritative, intelligent and dignified woman.

28

 Apr 23, 2009 at 02:14 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #25  
Anonymous Says:

Its a little suspicious that its you, not her saying she's "treasured." I'd be dead interested in how she really feels about your no doubt well-intentioned but deeply offensive regard for protecting your gender's ability to recite keriyat shema. I'm sure Hashem is just delighted at the lengths you go to render 51% of his creation invisible.

You are being offended by the words of gedolim and tzadikim who have given us this derech to live.
It is not I who say this, and it is not the one who wrote that post who says this, but it the the halacha as we were taught it, that we can't do this.

You are taking the defensive, "It is MY body, and I will do what I want with it. I will wear what I want, and show what I wish. How dare you stop me."

I feel sorry for those who feel as you feel, that you have a need to force your "freedoms" on other people.

This has gone on for many years, even in other cultures.

If I want to walk down the streets naked, I will be arrested.
Why? It is my body! Hashem created my genetalia! How dare you want to cover the bodies of 49% of His creation!

But, you will answer me that to you, as well as to others, the sight of a strange man's genitalis is offensive, and therefore society has passed laws to protect the sensitivities of those who are offended.

The same if YOU wish to go down the street naked. Same story as above.

But, if people are troubled by the parts of the female body which you decided are not okay to display, THEIR sensitivities and their rights are meaningless to you.

You want YOUR sensitivities to count, but not others'

29

 Apr 23, 2009 at 02:07 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #23  
realistic Says:

Well these men who I highly respect for there commitment and respect for the Halachah, shouldn't be looking at other woman if they are so careful, your not allowed to even get satisfaction from the pinky of a woman...... lets get real there a very few genuine people like that these days.

You missed the point.

It makes no difference if you don't look.

The derech is that they must be a physical divider so you are not able to see.

And.... we are not on that level to not notice when we glance.
Maybe tzadikim can glance in a certain direction and not see what they should not see. I am not on that level. If it is there, I see it.
And, I have a yetzer hora. I look more than I should.

But, even if I did not look, even if I were to be facing the other way, I could not daven if uncovered hair is visible to one who is looking.

That is the way we observe it. Sorry if it does not make sense to you.

30

 Apr 23, 2009 at 02:42 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #26  
Satmar Man Says:

To those who are bothered by the "extreme" measure you believe we take to cover our women:

If you were visiting a religious group of another faith, maybe the Amish, or some other one, and they asked you to cover this or cover that, you would instantly and eagerly comply. You would talk about not offending their religious beliefs.

You would not give THEM these arguments you gave above.

But, since we are of the same religion, all fellow brother Jews, you seem to forget to give us the same respect and tolerance you would give to religious members of other faiths.

Can you just live and let live?

You do your thing in your neighborhoods and your shuls where you all paskin your way. But if you come to a shul or setting where we are more machmir, respect us too.

Tolerance works both ways, you know. (smile)

You would not call someone else's (of a different religion) religious practices "deeply offensive"

Please do not call ours such.

You raise a pretty profound, fair and important point -- but I don't know that I can agree.

I think its very difficult but ultimately legitimate to try and figure out the line between tolerance for other beliefs and the need to speak out against what appears to cross the line. Personally, I have no hesitation it criticizing evangelical Christians, the Vatican or Muslim fundamentalists where I believe they are masquerading discrimination/oppression as untouchable religious practice. I also think you're right in that I feel a special need if not responsibility, as a member of the kehillah, to be especially attentive where I believe the line has been crossed in my own community. I just know too many frum women who, when their husbands aren't around, have a very different and negative view of the tznius lifestyle.

Incidentally, my sister in law (MO) is a doctor with a large frum practice -- she says that hair loss/ringworm/bacterial and viral conditions are "almost endemic" among women who wear sheitels, tichals (and muslim women who wear the hijab) She's increasingly of the view that tzinius is an unhealthy state for women almost amounting to a form of self-abuse.

31

 Apr 23, 2009 at 03:04 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #28  
Anonymous Says:

You are being offended by the words of gedolim and tzadikim who have given us this derech to live.
It is not I who say this, and it is not the one who wrote that post who says this, but it the the halacha as we were taught it, that we can't do this.

You are taking the defensive, "It is MY body, and I will do what I want with it. I will wear what I want, and show what I wish. How dare you stop me."

I feel sorry for those who feel as you feel, that you have a need to force your "freedoms" on other people.

This has gone on for many years, even in other cultures.

If I want to walk down the streets naked, I will be arrested.
Why? It is my body! Hashem created my genetalia! How dare you want to cover the bodies of 49% of His creation!

But, you will answer me that to you, as well as to others, the sight of a strange man's genitalis is offensive, and therefore society has passed laws to protect the sensitivities of those who are offended.

The same if YOU wish to go down the street naked. Same story as above.

But, if people are troubled by the parts of the female body which you decided are not okay to display, THEIR sensitivities and their rights are meaningless to you.

You want YOUR sensitivities to count, but not others'

I don't call it defensive -- I see it as life-affirming that I recognize the greatness of Hashem's creation that I have and use the freedom to make decisions about the body he gave me.

The fundamental difference between Tzinius and your "naked arrest" conjecture is that the latter is governed by democratic consensus not halacha and, as such, evolves and changes with overall community standards. It has nothing to do with protecting the sensitivities of those who might be offended. Law in a democracy can't work that way. For example, I just returned from Tel Aviv where women were sun-bathing topless on the beach outside the Pesach program at our hotel. No one arrested them, (for that matter, no one on the quite frum program seemed too concerned either).

32

 Apr 23, 2009 at 02:57 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #30  
Anonymous Says:

You raise a pretty profound, fair and important point -- but I don't know that I can agree.

I think its very difficult but ultimately legitimate to try and figure out the line between tolerance for other beliefs and the need to speak out against what appears to cross the line. Personally, I have no hesitation it criticizing evangelical Christians, the Vatican or Muslim fundamentalists where I believe they are masquerading discrimination/oppression as untouchable religious practice. I also think you're right in that I feel a special need if not responsibility, as a member of the kehillah, to be especially attentive where I believe the line has been crossed in my own community. I just know too many frum women who, when their husbands aren't around, have a very different and negative view of the tznius lifestyle.

Incidentally, my sister in law (MO) is a doctor with a large frum practice -- she says that hair loss/ringworm/bacterial and viral conditions are "almost endemic" among women who wear sheitels, tichals (and muslim women who wear the hijab) She's increasingly of the view that tzinius is an unhealthy state for women almost amounting to a form of self-abuse.

I wear a teechel only, and it is a fully-covering teechel. So do all my friends.
I know NOT A SINGLE WOMAN who has had the physical problems you describe.

It sounds to me like your SIL is getting a different population, a goup of women who do not keep clean. That makes no difference if you are Jewish, Muslim, etc.,
Certainly if you wear a shaitel, teechel or hijab, you should have the common sense to wash your head thoroughly and daily. We all do. Most of us have very short hair, and it takes only a few minutes to do a very thorough wash and dry. I never had any skin problem. NEVER, and neither did any of my friends, and YES, they are close enough to me to tell me.

Our mothers teach us to wash our heads more frequently since we are covering them.

Well, I guess there are a few who don't. Your SIL has met them... LOL

But to say, "tzinius is an unhealthy state for women almost amounting to a form of self-abuse.” shows a clear prejudiced bias.

33

 Apr 23, 2009 at 03:46 PM Another Satmar Woman Says:

Reply to #27  
Jewish mother Says:

When I first saw this, I was kind of hoping it was a hat show. I have about 50 hats similar to #2. I have been wearing them since I am married (22 years). I do not care if they are in style, they are MY style. My husband loves the way I dress and often tells me so. I try to copy the look of Queen Elizabeth whose head and body are always modestly covered. The Queen is the epitome of an authoritative, intelligent and dignified woman.

" I try to copy the look of Queen Elizabeth whose head and body are always modestly covered. The Queen is the epitome of an authoritative, intelligent and dignified woman.”

Hmmmm.

When I was a young girl, I met the holy Satmar Rebbetzin. To me SHE was the epitome of everything authoritative, intelligent, dignified with Yiras Shomayim and Ahavas Torah and Ahavas Yisroel.

I wanted to dress and behave as she does.

The dressing part is easy. I wear black tights, long-skirt suits, high necklines, almost no hair under a fully-covering teechel, etc.,

But, it is her midos and Character I try to emulate every day. When I get dressed and check myself in the mirror, I remember whom I am trying to emulate, and ask Hashem to help me behave as much like this holy woman as I could. In her zchus and for her memory.

I guess to some of you, I would be horrible, or repressed.

But, I love the way I look, and neither I nore my very wonderful and loving husband would change anything about the way I dress for all the money or clothing in the world.

34

 Apr 23, 2009 at 03:52 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #25  
Anonymous Says:

Its a little suspicious that its you, not her saying she's "treasured." I'd be dead interested in how she really feels about your no doubt well-intentioned but deeply offensive regard for protecting your gender's ability to recite keriyat shema. I'm sure Hashem is just delighted at the lengths you go to render 51% of his creation invisible.

Don't feel suspicious, because it is the truth. Women, like my self who cover all their hair do feel treasured by their husbands. Once a Jewish woman is married, her hair is considered erva (naked). The hair is a "private part" that is only allowed to be seen by her husband. If you understand why a woman does this, you will understand that it is not offensive at all.

BTW, with regards to properly covering hair, I cover my hair with a sheitel because it ensures that my hair is entirely covered, and it does not have to be adjusted like tichels or hats.

35

 Apr 23, 2009 at 04:12 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #30  
Anonymous Says:

You raise a pretty profound, fair and important point -- but I don't know that I can agree.

I think its very difficult but ultimately legitimate to try and figure out the line between tolerance for other beliefs and the need to speak out against what appears to cross the line. Personally, I have no hesitation it criticizing evangelical Christians, the Vatican or Muslim fundamentalists where I believe they are masquerading discrimination/oppression as untouchable religious practice. I also think you're right in that I feel a special need if not responsibility, as a member of the kehillah, to be especially attentive where I believe the line has been crossed in my own community. I just know too many frum women who, when their husbands aren't around, have a very different and negative view of the tznius lifestyle.

Incidentally, my sister in law (MO) is a doctor with a large frum practice -- she says that hair loss/ringworm/bacterial and viral conditions are "almost endemic" among women who wear sheitels, tichals (and muslim women who wear the hijab) She's increasingly of the view that tzinius is an unhealthy state for women almost amounting to a form of self-abuse.

we are BH six sisters, married many years with no hair loss. perhaps their diets are messed up and that is why they are seeking medical care. poor nutrition can cause this. as far as her thoughts of tznius being a form of self abuse, she has her own issues to work out.

36

 Apr 24, 2009 at 01:07 AM matzahlocal101 Says:

While some people have some knowledge here, there are gaping holes that need toi be addressed. So here we go from the beginning.
Pirkei D'Reb Eliezer says that woman was punished at the sin of the aitz hada'as with nine curses and death. Among them are "her head is covered like a mourner and her ear are pierced like an ev ed oilom." (Men were punished with a different set of nine curses and death, and even though the practice of atifas harosh is not practiced by mourners in many communities, some authorities say the mourner should tilt his hat down over his eyes in symbolic compliance with this custom.) It is interesting to note, the custom of women covering their hair and piercing their ears was almost universal in every society and in every culture on earth until fairly recently. In fact even in the US until the early 1900s a married woman did not go out with some type of head covering. So woman that properly cover their hair have a portion in the tikkun of chait aitz hada'as. The Chofetz Chaim writes "how fortunate we are to be in a country like Poland where even the Gentile women cover their hair." (I believe that's in Gedar Oilom but it might be in one of the letters.) There is no diference of opinion that a married woman's hair must be completely covered. Shulchan Oruch (O"C 75) says that If a tefech is revealed of an area that is usually covered OF HIS WIFE, He cannot say the kriah Shma. The Rema says that this is concerning his wife but less than a tefach in another woman is called erva and he is surely prohibited. The mishnah brura says this includes a single or married woman. He adds that if the calf is revealed even if it his own wife and less than a tefach he is prohibited from saying kriah shma. The Chofetz Chaim, the Tzemach Tzedek , and the Chasam Sofer all wrote that a woman must completely cover her hair, even in her own home. And after the gemora says that Kimchis had seven sons who served as Kohanim Gedolim in the merit of meticulously covering her hair what orthodox, G-d fearing woman would pass up on such a possibility? Obviously one who is not so orthodox or G-d fearing as she purports to be. At this point I will mention the first chapter in Shulchan oruch. It states the HALACHA that a person should not be embarassed by those that ridicule his/her service of Hashem. Who is it talking about? A shvartza with baggy shorts 12 sizes too big, orange socks and purple sneakers with pantyhose on his head who asks "Why do Jews dress so strange?" Is it talking about you frei relatives who shrug and say "as long as you're happy."? NO NO NO! It's talking about the people who sit next to you in an "Orthodox" shul and tell you don't be so farfrumpt. The reason is simple, because no one else's opinion is important to you in these matters.
Next case, There are woman who think they are frum and tzniusdig, who have no clue whatsoever what the word tznius means. Tznius is not a sleeve length, Tznius comes from the word tzanua and means the women, not her arms, were hidden. A woman can be covered from collar bones to toes in a skin tight, bright red, leather, body suit and it's not tzniusdig according to anyones opinion. The woman is called an Isha tznua or not, there is not a matzeivah in the world that says "po nitmun ha'isha chashuva shehysa loveshes tznias."

37

 Apr 23, 2009 at 11:29 PM shaitelmacher Says:

when you cover your hair:you are conscious of your status and your responsibility.You remember that you have a husband and you will not FLIRT with other men. You remember that you have a head and you will use it. You remember that there is G-D above you.You remember that you are representing a beautiful Jewish woman, and you actually look beautiful for the rest of your life. YOU LOOK ETERNALLY YOUNG FOREVER. You could go from being a blonde to a brunette to an auburn in seconds, and then back to being a blonde. You could go short, long or medium length,and wear ponytails and buns and hairbands and anything else you may fancy, and your husband will not get bored of you and go look for a variety of other women like they do...............................etc.etc.etc. The benefits have no limits and reasons I could give you millions,but I'm sure you get the idea already.

38

 Apr 24, 2009 at 08:24 AM Satmar Willi Girl Says:

Reply to #34  
Anonymous Says:

Don't feel suspicious, because it is the truth. Women, like my self who cover all their hair do feel treasured by their husbands. Once a Jewish woman is married, her hair is considered erva (naked). The hair is a "private part" that is only allowed to be seen by her husband. If you understand why a woman does this, you will understand that it is not offensive at all.

BTW, with regards to properly covering hair, I cover my hair with a sheitel because it ensures that my hair is entirely covered, and it does not have to be adjusted like tichels or hats.

I like what you said.

But, I would like to add something about the shaitel vs teechel story.

True, if you wear a snood type of teechel, or a scarf type of teechel, you are right, they need to be adjusted, or they will slip. That is why you will not see us use them
Also, any teechel over long hair is a problem.
So, if you keep your own hair, it IS best to cover it with a shaitel.
But there are teechels we have in Willi, KJ, and other chassidishe places which really don't slip and cover all, very well. But, underneath we keep our hair VERY short. This very, very short hair puts no pressure on the teechel, and all stays securely put, in place.

It is good to have someone, even your husband, take the machine and "clean up" your neck or back of the head. This way there is nothing showing from under a teechel in the back.

By the way, Shaitels also can have a problem with hair showing out on the sides by the ears. I have seen this often with people who get stylish haircuts for their own hair. But, if one is careful, in how to cut one's hair so this does not happen,

So, both methods, teechel and shaitel, can ensure that hair is entirely covered, but one needs to use what is appropriate for one's natural hair length.

I usually wear a Teechel, as to me that is the ultimate tznius way to go. Not a drop of my hair ever shows. (again, there is not much under the teechel anyway)

I sometimes do wear a shaitel. But I wear a shaitel which "looks like a shaitel"
I prefer a very short shaitel, which any maven can tell is a shaitel, even from across the street. I then cover it with a hat, so never more than about 2 1/2 inches of shaitel hair shows.
I use ONLY synthetic hair, as there truly is a problem with the sources of human hair.

39

 Apr 24, 2009 at 08:09 AM Satmar Man Says:

Reply to #36  
matzahlocal101 Says:

While some people have some knowledge here, there are gaping holes that need toi be addressed. So here we go from the beginning.
Pirkei D'Reb Eliezer says that woman was punished at the sin of the aitz hada'as with nine curses and death. Among them are "her head is covered like a mourner and her ear are pierced like an ev ed oilom." (Men were punished with a different set of nine curses and death, and even though the practice of atifas harosh is not practiced by mourners in many communities, some authorities say the mourner should tilt his hat down over his eyes in symbolic compliance with this custom.) It is interesting to note, the custom of women covering their hair and piercing their ears was almost universal in every society and in every culture on earth until fairly recently. In fact even in the US until the early 1900s a married woman did not go out with some type of head covering. So woman that properly cover their hair have a portion in the tikkun of chait aitz hada'as. The Chofetz Chaim writes "how fortunate we are to be in a country like Poland where even the Gentile women cover their hair." (I believe that's in Gedar Oilom but it might be in one of the letters.) There is no diference of opinion that a married woman's hair must be completely covered. Shulchan Oruch (O"C 75) says that If a tefech is revealed of an area that is usually covered OF HIS WIFE, He cannot say the kriah Shma. The Rema says that this is concerning his wife but less than a tefach in another woman is called erva and he is surely prohibited. The mishnah brura says this includes a single or married woman. He adds that if the calf is revealed even if it his own wife and less than a tefach he is prohibited from saying kriah shma. The Chofetz Chaim, the Tzemach Tzedek , and the Chasam Sofer all wrote that a woman must completely cover her hair, even in her own home. And after the gemora says that Kimchis had seven sons who served as Kohanim Gedolim in the merit of meticulously covering her hair what orthodox, G-d fearing woman would pass up on such a possibility? Obviously one who is not so orthodox or G-d fearing as she purports to be. At this point I will mention the first chapter in Shulchan oruch. It states the HALACHA that a person should not be embarassed by those that ridicule his/her service of Hashem. Who is it talking about? A shvartza with baggy shorts 12 sizes too big, orange socks and purple sneakers with pantyhose on his head who asks "Why do Jews dress so strange?" Is it talking about you frei relatives who shrug and say "as long as you're happy."? NO NO NO! It's talking about the people who sit next to you in an "Orthodox" shul and tell you don't be so farfrumpt. The reason is simple, because no one else's opinion is important to you in these matters.
Next case, There are woman who think they are frum and tzniusdig, who have no clue whatsoever what the word tznius means. Tznius is not a sleeve length, Tznius comes from the word tzanua and means the women, not her arms, were hidden. A woman can be covered from collar bones to toes in a skin tight, bright red, leather, body suit and it's not tzniusdig according to anyones opinion. The woman is called an Isha tznua or not, there is not a matzeivah in the world that says "po nitmun ha'isha chashuva shehysa loveshes tznias."

Thank you, Matzahlocal101, for a beautiful and accurate essay.

I agree with every word you wrote.

And what can we learn from this???

We can look at those rabbonim you quote, and see that the opinions to fully cover a woman's hair is not only a Chassidishe thing. But, you quoted Torah Giants from all sectors of Frum Judaism, Chassidish, Litvish, Yeshivish, etc.,

And, you showed that it is "Not a new-fangles chumra" at all, but our tradition from way back.

Thank you.

I especially liked that last part.
My wife dresses in traditional Satmar "uniform" of thick seamed stockings, flat or very low-heeled shoes, long skirts to mid-calf of lower, these skirts are aways part of a conservative suit. She does wear a sheitel over very short hair, but wears a hat to cover the sheital so less than a tefach of the shaitel shows from any point.,, etc., etc., etc.,
But, most importantly, she dresses modestly, and behaves modestly.

We daven often in a shul of another frum group, where many of the women are tznius "by the letter of the law" as they see it... But my wife is always asking me if it would be right for her to talk to them about the other side:
They are wearing dresses to with long sleeves, but the dresses are so clingy as to clearly show what the clothing should be covering up.
Their "tznius dresses" are just below their knees, and when they sit, they are "on display"
Their shaitels are VERY stylish with long hair, usually human hair, and do not have a shaitel look at all. These women appear to be wearing their own hair, and make themselves look "sexy" .... coupled with VERY high, nose-bleed heels.

They clearly missed the point of tznius. They also sit in the shul lobby nursing their babies. Men walk by and can see the babies clearly nursing! Oh, sure, you can't actually see the actualy body part, but draping a small cloth carefully over the baby's face while it is clear to all what you are doing, kind of does not fit in a shul lobby...... or am I that old fashioned????

I have asked my wife to "butt out" and not risk hurting the feelings of these very precious women. They are good people, wonderful people actually. These are women who would drop everything, leave small children/babies with their husbands and run to assist in a tahara with the women's chevra, etc., They will cook and do all they can to help another family, etc., But, they are unlikely to take my wife's words in the loving way she would intend it. We would NEVER want to hurt their feelings. I said, "The best you can do it to set an example. Hopefully one or two will want to follow it."

As you wrote: Tznuis is not just sleeve length and skirt length in inches. It is the overall look and behavior also.

40

 Apr 24, 2009 at 03:38 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #37  
shaitelmacher Says:

when you cover your hair:you are conscious of your status and your responsibility.You remember that you have a husband and you will not FLIRT with other men. You remember that you have a head and you will use it. You remember that there is G-D above you.You remember that you are representing a beautiful Jewish woman, and you actually look beautiful for the rest of your life. YOU LOOK ETERNALLY YOUNG FOREVER. You could go from being a blonde to a brunette to an auburn in seconds, and then back to being a blonde. You could go short, long or medium length,and wear ponytails and buns and hairbands and anything else you may fancy, and your husband will not get bored of you and go look for a variety of other women like they do...............................etc.etc.etc. The benefits have no limits and reasons I could give you millions,but I'm sure you get the idea already.

This comment is funny even though I'm certain it wasn't intended to be.

41

 Aug 27, 2009 at 04:53 PM june Says:

Has anyone considered that the ancient practise of wearing a head cover could be related to preventative health care. I have recently read that 'particulates' falling onto the head of a person could possibly be the cause of alzheimers (I hope I spelt that right) funny, I can't remember where I read it!

42

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