Jun 5, 2006

are sheitels ok to wear? prove it

Reports are abounding about a new challenge in the Torah world. I saw forums about it in HydePark and now see it posted in Ynet.

The challenge was presented by an older Yerushalmi fellow who believes that sheitels are not permitted to be worn (by women) as a head covering. He claims those allowances in the gemarra and halacha are only referring to older types of wigs which no longer exist, but todays modern sheitels are all prohibited and do not fall under the same category as those allowed.
He has therefore presented a challenge that anyone who can prove that sheitels are muttar can win a prize of between $18000 and $36000 (depends exactly how you prove it - I was a bit unclear on the difference)..

Anybody up the the challenge?


  1. It's true. The whole sheitel thing is one of the largest cover ups in the history of halachic observance. (the use of shavers is a close, close second)

    Banning Slifkin works well for the 'Gedolim' who can flex their muscles without changing the harmony of the home. If they go and ban wigs, however, well, there goes their following.

    The girls in Woodmere, Boro Park, and Ramat Beit Shemesh really dont care what the 80+ year old boys in Bnai Brak or Jerusalem want them to wear on their heads.

    The *vast majority* of poskim *prohibit* wigs of any kind.

    The only modern authority who allowed (in writing!) the wigs we have today was the late, but great, Rebbe of Lubavitch. Yes, the ladies mentioned above are true Lubavitchers.

    Bottom line- This whole damn frumkeit crap is *nothing* but an observance out of convenience.

    WANTED: God fearing / Shulchan Aruch observing Jews

  2. I am not so sure. First of all before I comment, my wife is a God fearing Shulchan Aruch observing Jew. She on her own decided for personal reasons to no longer wear sheitels.
    That being said, if the halacha allows for sheitels then they are muttar regardless of what anyone thinks. Obviously they would need to conform to the requirements of tzniut (which change depending what community you live in), just like wearing a blouse is muttar, but that does not allow one to wear any blouse, but a tzniut blouse. I feel that it is clear that sheitels were always allowed and we even find in the gemara that sheitels were used. As far as I remember, the issue of hair covering is not one of temptation (and then one could argue that sheitels are very nice and possibly just as tempting as real hair) rather covering erva. If the erva is covered, you have fulfilled the halacha (again, conforming to rules of tzniut).

    You do havea good point though about whne the Rabbis choose to make crazy laws and bans.. Though when they banned wigs beause of the INdian hair craze, the women right away removed the wigs (at least in RBS and most other frum areas in israel) until the issues were clarified. I even have neighbors that burned their wigs!

    It turns out it was all personally motvated by certain askanim who wanted to make money off the deal, as they were invested )or their friends were) in a certain other company, and adding to that the new system of hashgachot that would be implemented, and they forced the issue. Almost all the wigs were later declared to have been fine and not containing any of the Indian hair.

    It is that kind of behavior that makes people doubt the integrity of the "psakim" being issued and those behind them..

  3. Tricky...

    My charedi cousins only wear sheitls that aren't of high quality (maybe not human hair?) because they find it problematic; tzioni family friends won't wear sheitls because they think it's a problem halachically, or at least questionable enough that hats/tichels are better.

  4. ezzie - yes it is tricky, but those examples you gave add to my point that really in a general sense sheitels are muttar. Assuring sheitels is all based on tzniut considerations, not sheitel considerations..

  5. The issue of hair covering is not one of temptation (and then one could argue that sheitels are very nice and possibly just as tempting as real hair) rather covering erva. If the erva is covered, you have fulfilled the halacha (again, conforming to rules of tzniut). You hit it on the nail Rafi!

    1. "[…] and we even find in the gemara that sheitels were used."

      "In 2003, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the preeminent expert on Jewish modesty laws, issued an edict declaring that 'modern wigs,' unlike the modest sheitels originally sanctioned by Rabbi Joshua Boaz ben Simon Baruch in the sixteenth century, are meant to make women attractive and thus are 'as much a breach of the law as hair.' " http://canopycanopycanopy.com/issues/10/contents/she_goes_covered

      How about nude colored shells that are considered not tsniut? certain communities won't wear these shells because from a distance it looks like your skin and that you are not covered up when you are. Those same women that will not wear a nude colored shell wear sheitels! a bit hypocritical, no? I wouldn't call sheitels as "conforming to rules of tzniut," more like dangerously rationalizing your way out of the rules of tzniut and straight to.…

      "I feel that it is clear that sheitels were always allowed […]"
      1. with all due respect, feeling should be left for the love of your family, Torah, and most of all HaShem amongst whatever else you prefer ;) it has nothing to do with halacha.
      2. "The custom of wearing wigs in public was established and spread amongst Jewish women about 170 years ago.This was during the time of many harsh decrees against the Jews in Europe and on the heels of the growth and spreading of the "Maskilim" (enlightened) who were after the total destruction of our religious observance. […] Also known are the words of the Gaon Rav Shlomo Kluger of blessed memory in the sefer "Bishnot Chayim"(simian 316), That in his days there was a royal decree in Russia that forbade all the married women from covering their hair. Therefore, in order to minimize the violation of modesty by them going with their hair completely uncovered, the Rabbis at that time permitted them to wear wigs which was the lesser of the two evils."http://hazakweematz.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/history-and-truth-about-sheitels-wigs.html

      Having said all that, I wear a sheitel. Not because I rationalize as to how it's allowed and conforms with the laws of Tzniut today or sway the responsibility on the Rabbeim ("the Rabbis let!") but because I am weak. Everyday it's a battle for me to cover my hair all together. I began idealistically covering my hair with beautiful scarves/ tickles and slowly my ideals withered being categorized by others as a "hippie" (for some reason there is nothing that irritates me more then hippies and feminists…oh and intellectual atheists…did I mention extreme lefties?!). I hope one day i find the strength of your wife and restore my tznius crown.

      What's happening in our society is very dangerous; we don't just rationalize our lack of tznius/sins/immoralities, we got so used to this way of life that we even come to defend it and stand up for it, we even encourage others to do the same by complimenting their beautiful sheitels and encouraging Kallahs to buy sheitels. There are frum organizations (which I myself have benefited from) that pay for your sheitel if you cannot afford it.

      I may be sinning but I do not rationalize nor do I defend my hypocrisy and my wrong doing and that is (the not good enough) but slight difference.

      From my research, these are the Ashkenazi Rabbis that forbid sheitels: Rav Elyashiv, Rav Vosner, The Gra, Chatam Sofer, Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach, The Steipler.

    2. There may be other reasons that Rabbeim in our communities do not stand up for women covering their hair properly. The simplest one, the fear of people not listening. There is a greater decree on our people if Rabbeim said no to sheitels all together and we simply ignored it or it is too hard for us to do. And a much sadder reason, they simply do not defend the honor of halacha and allow us women to continue in our misled rationale and wrong doing…. that's a personal opinion that I admit may be wrong…I simply don't know.

      I hope we all attain clarity (including myself) of what is right from wrong and have the strength to do the right thing!

      Please let me know if I have been misinformed.

  6. frum girl - come on, we can use a womans perspective!

    blogmeister - always happy to hear someone agrees with you!!

  7. typically, when I ask an orthodox jew a challenging question about the minutia of laws,especially those developed by the rabbis, the final answer is usually that 'the rabbis decided this and the torah gives the rabbis the power to do so.'

    If the vast majority of rabbis are ok with sheitels then it is muttar.

  8. good point dan, but in Israel that is not necessarily so. In america the vast majority allow it (if they even address the issue). In Israel it is not quite as clear cut. many allow it and many do not..obviously the majority do allow it because most women do wear them, but many Rabbis do nto allow it..

  9. I did not know sheitels were like walled cities; one day inside and 2 out. Either sheitels are muttar or not. Then the issue is limited to a) do you want to be machmer and b) do you follow a minority rabbi voice that does not allow sheitels. Like the brisk not allowing eruvim for that small group it is asur, otherwise it is muttar.
    It is interesting though, like the briskers, that these groups do not claim that they are being machmer rather they lay out a line and say it is asur and the majority are wrong. You can understand why secular jews have a hard time accepting the "rules of the rabbis" rule if orthodox rabbis won't.

  10. I hear you.. I agree - much of the division and animosity is caused when seeing some of the internal battles that go on..

  11. think of it this way - this yerushalmi guy wants a heter so badly that he's willing to pay appr 5 grand for it.

    whatever happened to shmiras ha'einaim?

  12. meier - that could be the reason he is doing this.. who knows?

    nobody wants to do the work himself, that is why shemirat eynayim is never applied. Everybody wants others to conform to their own needs so the work is on the other people..

  13. Rafi - sometimes people's common sense goes out of the window. I do not wear sheitels because I feel they are not tzanua. The "technicality" that a sheitel is ok because it covers the erva is, in my opinion, completely ridiculous! I can wear a blouse to cover my body, but I sure wouldn't wear one with a picture of breasts on it! That, according to your "technicality" would be modest, because my body is covered after all. The heter for sheitels is a kula, plain and simple.

  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  15. mama- it is not my kula, it is the hetter to wear sheitels. Again, my wife does not, but I have nothing against them.
    Your comment reminded me of something funny but pointed that a friend once told me. When the whole Indian hair thing was news, he ranted to me that he does not understand hwo women wear sheitels at all. It makes no sense - cover your erva with a picture of erva!!?? (BTW, his wife wears a sheitel, though he is against it).

    Anyway, I hear the argument. Though I would not agree that according to ym technicality such a shirt would be muttar. A blouse/skirt or anythign else must conform to standards of tzniyut (again, depending on the community lived in). A blouse might be ok, but if it is too tight it is not tzanua, as well as problems with the pictures or writing that might be on it. Same is true with a sheitel. A sheitel might be ok, but if you wear one that has long blond hair or some sort of very sexy or wild style, that would mean the sheitel is not conforming to the standards of tzniyut.
    They are 2 separate issues. I am not sure how to respond to covering erva with erva, except for the fact that the sheitel might look like erva, but it is not erva and as long is it is not a tzniyut problem (simple sheitels, short, normal styles, whatever), should be ok.

  16. WBmama said The "technicality" that a sheitel is ok because it covers the erva is, in my opinion, completely ridiculous! I can wear a blouse to cover my body, but I sure wouldn't wear one with a picture of breasts on it!
    Which doesn't reaslly make any sense because the problem with hair is purely (technical) halacha. It's not recognized as erva by real life.
    And if you wore a shirt with breasts painted on it, you still however stupid you may be, would not be showing people your breasts.
    And this fringe yerushalmi lunatic has been around forever. It's not news, although it's still funny.

  17. i don't wear a sheitel.... or a mitpachat... i wear a kippa. but back when i was in college, i decided that sheitels are bad news for the jews. my reason was not so much based on halacha, but more because i had friends hitting on married women with falls. i know that i might be preaching to wrong crowd here, but tachlis, single men don't know to look for wedding bands. they see a nice looking lady and move forward. if one of the points of head covering is to be tzanua, doesn't allowing these men to think that she's single defeat the purpose? anyway, i'm happy to hear that the halachic side of it is finally coming out to the public, maybe ppl will wake up!

  18. hubs - good point. did not think of that problem.

    rennaisance - you have heard of this guy before?

  19. no reason to - the Rabbonim allow it for the most part..
    it is the woman's issue and in my opinion it should all be her decision..

  20. Rafig rennaisance - you have heard of this guy before?
    Anyone who has hung around meah she'arim and it's environs has seen this guy's signs for years. I think the stakes have gone up significantly though!

  21. ren - I guess I have been away from mea shearim for too long..

  22. where do you go to submit an answer?

  23. Well, if sheitles are outlawed, than I suppose women being required to shave their heads will be next.

    The reason why the Lubavitcher Rebbe felt sheitles were the best covering was because a wig covers "all" of a woman's hair. Hats and kerchiefs can slip or be taken off. If it is a hot day - a woman might be tempted to remove her kerchief - most women would not be tempted to remove their sheitle (not without lots of strange looks and gasps, anyway). Also, sheitles are held pretty fast with combs and clips - snoods, hats, scarves, kerchiefs - all these are prone to slipping off the head easily.

    I don't get why a sheitle is less frum than a hat. In my community and others I have visited in the USA, there is a new contingency of "Hat Ladies." The look is always the same - a beret, hat, scarf or kerchief worn atop the head - with their own natural hair coming out of the bottom between chin to shoulder length. I am not sure if they are following some psak - because the hair length is always the same - and no these are not falls the ladies are wearing.

    Why on earth would having half-covered hair be preferable to wearing a sheitle? I think hat wearing has serious risks for lax hair covering, as is seen all over modern orthodox communities today. Best to stick to sheitles if women are not going to fully cover under their hats/scarves.

    This is why I say that if sheitles are outlawed - ravs will probably want women to shave their heads so they won't be tempted to fashionably coiffe their real hair to go along with their chosen hat. Also, so stray hairs won't slip out even for those women who do attempt to cover it all.

  24. Dan - I don't know. I did not pay attention when I saw the picture of the original sign. If you want to send in an answer I could try to find out.. I doubt he takes answers by email.. :-)

  25. anon - I doubt shaving heads would be the next step, because most women would not listen to them and they know it. Also it would not give anybody the feelign of control to create such a ban because they would have no way of checking it out or enforcing it..

  26. Covering erva with an erva?

    Since when is all hair erva? If that were so - ALL women, not just marrieds, would need to cover their hair.

    While a married woman is not allowed to cover her head with a wig made of her OWN hair - she may cover it with another person's hair, because it does not have the status of erva for HER.

  27. anon - I know Rabbonim (very frum charedi rabbonim who are generally machmir) who allow women to even use their own hair to make sheitels. They say once the hair os cut off the head it is no longer erva and not a problem.

    There is not an opinion that cannot be found..

  28. anon - you sound very serious, but, who says that everyone agrees that a married womans hair is really an erva?! There are frum rabbonim who hold that nowadays, "yesh makom l'hatir" that it really isn't erva. Now you may laugh, but the fact is one can find any p'sak one wants, if you look hard enough.

  29. I don't think that any "frum" rabbis today would pasken that a married woman's hair is not erva. Even if you look at it from the perspective of "the majority of jewish women don't hold by it today," the frum world looks only at the what the majority of jewish women in the frum world hold by.

    Now, if all the frum jewish women would get together, rip off their sheitles, snoods, tichels and say - no more of these shackles - than the rabbanim might have something to discuss! So, ladies? Nu?

  30. and the ultra-religious (haredi) only look at what the majority of haredi women do. everybody discounts everybodt else, in order to create the fictitious majority that supports what they do..

  31. So by that attitude - each person can do what he or she damn well pleases - and when questioned, just say, "Oh, the Rebbe and Rebbitzen said we could do it." (the Rebbe and Rebbetizen being you and your wife). Why would it make a difference if it is all subjective - we can make up our own rules and leniencies!

  32. anon - it is my firm belief that the majority of people (including the majority of people in the frum world and there is no difference in this if you wear a hat or not)) do exactly that. People generally do what is good for them. They pick whatever chumra they want, they pick their kula and they do what is good for them.
    I have come across often people who say one thing but then do otherwise. They say they eat only badatz, but when they eat Rabbanut they always find an excuse - there was nothing else available or whatever, they verbally protest mixing of the sexes in public but act inappropriately for what they say they believe in (go to mixed events or other things) when on vacation or in a place where people do not know them.

    Most people do exactly what you just described..

  33. I am writing to inform you that there is No codified Halacha that a married woman must cover her hair totally and constantly whenever she steps out of her house.

    The Halachah has been MISinterpreted.The true interpretation of the Halachah is as follows:

    A married woman is required to cover her hair when she lights the candles to welcome in Shabbat and Yom Tov – lechavod Shabbat ve Yom Tov - and when she goes to the Synagogue, because that is the place of Kedusha.

    The Halacha does not require anything more from married women.

    This misinterpretation of the Torah is completely Assur, and a TWISTING of the Torah.The Torah must remain straight.

    In ancient times, a woman would only cover her hair upon entering the Beit Hamikdash.Similarly for the Sotah-otherwise she would not be required to cover her hair ordinarily, day to day.

    It is very important for people to know and realise that when a married woman covers her hair with 'Real Hair' the woman is covering herself with 100% Tumah. This is totally against the Torah.

    Nothing could be more nonsensical than for a Jewish woman to cover her hair with someone else's hair -who was not Jewish as well!She can never fully be sure that this 'hair' has not come from meitim-despite any guarantee by the seller.This 'real hair' is doubly and in some circumstances, triply Tumah.

    1.It will contain the leftover dead hair cells from another person - however much it has been treated, the tumah is still there.

    2.This other person (likely to be a non-Jew who most likely was involved in some kind of Avodah Zarah) may have eaten bacon, ham, lobster etc, all of which are totally forbidden as unclean and non-kosher foods in Halacha.

    3.If the woman happens to be the wife of a COHEN, then she is bringing her husband into close contact and proximity with meitim and Tumah Every day, and throughout their married life. This is clearly strictly against the Torah.

    There is nothing more degrading and demeaning to a woman than to make her cover her hair For Life upon marriage.It is an abhorrent practice.

    Any man who makes such a ridiculous demand on his wife, or wife-to-be, should similarly also be required by his wife to wear: long white stockings, even in the summer; a fur streimel; grow a long beard; wear a black hat and coat constantly, and cover his face when he speaks to his wife.Wigs were merely a fashion item in the time of Louis XIV-they are not for the Jewish woman!

    Rabbi Menachem Schneeersohn tz”l, was unfortunately wrong in this instance.He gave the directive that a married woman must cover her head with a “sheitel.”This needs to be corrected.Rabbi Schneersohn a"h, was a Tzaddik, – but on this – he was, unfortunately not correct.

    It is extremely unhealthy and unhygienic for a woman to cover her hair constantly.The hair needs oxygen to breathe.A woman's hair will lose its natural beauty and shine, she may have scalp problems, some of her hair may fall out, she may get headaches, and she may end up cutting it short like a man, when she always wore it long, in order not to have too much discomfort from her hair covering.

    Do you think that HaKadosh Baruch Hu commanded this of women? I can assure you that He did not.The commmandments are not meant to cause so much repression and oppression in women.Was Chava created with a wig? Of course not! Did she start wearing a wig? Of course not!

    Not a single “dayan” or “rabbi” has the slightest bit of interest in correcting the situation for the women.Therefore, the women will have to correct the situation for themselves.

    Whether you wish to accept the correction–which is true–is up to you.Are you going to live by the truth?Are you going to use the spark of intelligence that Hashem gave to you and all women?Or are you going to follow rabbis and dayanim who tell you to wear a wig in a Heat Wave–and you thank them for it as well?

    Please Wake Up.

    And use the spark of intelligence that Hakadosh Baruch Hu gave to you and blessed you with.

    And give your wig back to your husband if you wear one.

  34. 1. To all the women who are wondering about the sources:

    We have all been created, "Betselem Elokim" - "in the image of Elokim."
    This means that we have been given something called "intelligence." The source is the very first Parsha, Bereishit - 1:27. It is time that people use the spark of intelligence and Kedusha with which Hashem has blessed them.

    If your rabbi will tell you to go and jump into the depths of a glacier, presumably you would do that too – and give me a source for it?

    “According to the Zohar”, I should also be covering my hair with a wig when I have a bath. “According to the Zohar and the Gemara” and all the sources that have misinterpreted the Halachah, and MIStranslated the Zohar, I should also have been born with a WIG on my head.

    These sources and translations are incorrect, as they have deviated very far from the true and correct interpretation, of the Halachah.

  35. 2.Remember that the Jewish women are very, very holy. They are much more holy than the men. Look at the exemplary behaviour of the women at Har Sinai.

    The women never sinned at the Eigel, and so are greatly elevated. Many of the men, unfortunately, ran after a calf made out of a lump of gold – after they had just been given the Torah, and seen the greatest of all Revelations. The women refused to give their gold for the avodah zarah of the men.

    The women were greatly elevated after such a wonderful display of Emunah, and they are regarded very highly in Shamayim.

    That is why women are not even required to pray. They can pray at home on their own. Nor do women have to make up a minyan. That is how holy the Jewish women are. Men have to pray 3 times a day to remind them of their Creator.

    The men are telling the women to put the hair of a non-Jewish woman who may have eaten things like snakes and sharks and alligators, and has worshipped in churches, Buddist temples or Hindu temples : on their own Heads. They had better wake up.

    If the men don’t want to wake up to the truth, and the true interpretation of the Halacha, the women will wake them up – whether they like it or not.

  36. 3. Many righteous women influenced their husbands for the good at the Chet Haeigel and at the time of Korach.

    It was these righteous women who succeeded in bringing their husbands back to their senses.

    And because of these great women, the lives of their husbands were saved. Those men therefore turned away from the madness of avodah zarah, and the rebellion of Korach against Hashem's choice of Aharon, as Cohen HaGadol.

    4. Look at the Jewish women in history, and remember how holy they are.

    (a) Yaakov, who was the greatest of the Avot, came to marry the 2 daughters of Lavan, Rachel and Leah. Lavan was not exactly a tzaddik. Yaakov went to Lavan, of all people, to marry his 2 daughters – not 1 daughter, but his 2 daughters. Nothing could be greater than that.

    (b) Rut, who came from Moav, became the ancestor of David Hamelech.

    (c ) Batya, the daughter of Paroh, was given eternal life because she rescued Moshe from the river. No one could have been more evil than Paroh.

    (d) Devorah, was a Neviah, and also a Judge.

    Women who came from such adverse backgrounds, were able to become builders of Am Yisrael. That is how holy the women are, and how much more elevated they are than the men.

    This was never the case with men. It never happened the other way round.

    Don't tell me it is holy for me to wear a WIG! Hair over my own hair? This is ridiculous!

    Similarly, don’t tell me it is holy for me to plonk a permanent head covering on my head for the rest of my life. This is equally vile.

    Please Wake Up.

    Use the spark of intelligence that Hakadosh Baruch Hu gave to you and blessed you with.

    And give your wig back to your husband if you wear one.

  37. 5. Remember: Not a single “dayan” or “rabbi” has the slightest bit of interest in correcting the situation for the women. Therefore, the women will have to correct the situation................for ..................themselves.

    Whether you wish to accept the correction – which is true – is up to you. Are you going to live by the truth? Are you going to use the spark of intelligence that Hashem gave to you and all women? Or are you going to follow rabbis and dayanim who tell you to wear a wig in a Heat Wave – and you thank them for it as well?

  38. There is a no sheitel support group online for all those who do not wear sheitels. It is private for Orthodox Jewish women who want a place to learn halachot, share feelings, and feel understood by those like them. If you or someone you know does not wear sheitels, please have them email nosheitel@gmail.com to join or to request more information. Please spread the word to all the people you know who do not wear sheitels.
    Thank you.

  39. do not wear sheitels meaning they dont cover their hair or meaning they wear tichels, snoods and hats?


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