Thursday, June 28, 2012

The History and Truth about Sheitels (wigs)

BS"D

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. They even succeeded in uprooting the law of head covering completely, so that even in the houses of G-d fearing and upright Jews in Lithuania the wives were going with their hair completely uncovered.
This is mentioned in the Aruch Hashulchan (siman 75:7)
And now let us scream out about this breach of modesty happening now in our generation due to our many sins. For many years now the daughters of Israel have broken the boundaries of modesty and have gone with their heads uncovered. And all that we have cried out regarding this matter has not helped or benefitted. And now this parasite has spread so that even married women are going with their hair revealed just like unmarried girls. Woe to us that this has happened in our days.

Also known are the words of the Gaon Rav Shlomo Kluger of blessed memory in the sefer "Bishnot Chayim"(siman 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.
Similarly it is recorded in the sefer "Ben Ish Chai" (Year 1, Parashat Bo #12), The women in the European countries are accustomed to go always with their hair uncovered.
And in opposition to this gloomy condition that many women had completely abandoned the mitzvah of covering their hair, the Chafetz Chaim wrote an entire sefer entitled "Geder Olam" in order to challenge and try to regain control of this terrible breach in modesty.
Therefore, in order to get them to comply with hair covering at all, we were forced to permit them the wearing of wigs so that they would not be going with their hair uncovered outright. And after the decrees were cancelled, the custom of wearing wigs remained since they had grown used to it. This matter continued and worsened over time until the whole reason why the despicable and evil custom of wig wearing was permitted in the first place became completely forgotten to them, until nowadays, women who wear wigs in public think that they are acting in accordance with the strictest levels of the law of hair covering.                 Woe to us, look to where we have fallen!

Therefore, the time has come for the holy daughters of Israel to free themselves from the decrees of our cruel and wicked enemies! (From the words of Rav Binyamin Rubinovich in a letter he wrote as an approbation to the book "Dat Moshe VeYisrael")
Therefore it is a holy obligation for every Rav and teacher in Israel in whose congregation this parasite of wig wearing has spread, to learn the sugya in its entirety and to rebuke the congregation with gentleness that there is really no permissibility under Jewish law to go out with a wig looking like the women who roam the streets at night.  We must remove this plague from our houses and this evil from our midst, and return the crown to its former glory to be crowned with modesty. Women should go with a cloth head covering only as this is how our mothers used to look; and this is also in accordance with the halachic rulings of our Rabbis. May Hashem help us in this matter pertaining to the honor of His Name, and may we succeed in fencing in this breach speedily and in our days amen.
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30 comments:

  1. And yet the Lubavitcher Rebbe poskened the exact opposite, that a Jewish woman MUST wear a sheitel when going in public.

    Perhaps one would say different standards are appropriate for different communities in different places?

    Or are you picking and choosing your poskim? Or going against the words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe?

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    1. To Akiva:
      1st of all, don't be so paranoid.
      Now know that Rav Shnierson's (zassa"l)psak has been grossly misunderstood & exaggerated upon. point by point:
      1] He NEVER said to permit to fancy. long, perfumes etc wigs that so many of HHabad women wear. He permitted ONLY like what his wife wore.
      2] He gave a psak requiring wigs to women in France & other places where wearing a head-kerchief would be considered degrading; e.g. in France the negro cleaning ladies all wear head-kerchiefs.
      3] He gave a psak requiring wigs because certain people i.e. purveyors of wigs such as "Georgie" told him that "it is obvious to all that covering with a cloth or beret can never properly cover all the hair, always some exposed, always slipping off, & that wigs cover perfectly everything always." (I knew the head of Georgie wigs & the Israeli importers)
      So his psak was based on misinformation. He could NOT have done otherwise, with all due respect. It is an all TOO common occurrence in this generation.
      There was an incident of incorrect psak on kashrut of a chicken by Rabi Levi Yisshhak of Berdichev & when the mistake was discovered his asked "how can a Big Rabi who has Ruahh Hakodesh could make such a terrible mistake?"
      The reply was "When the question is a lie there is no Siyata Deshmaya for the answer."
      Again pay attention that Rav Shierson zassa"l NEVER apporved of the fancy wigs used these days, only the very short ugly ones & with a hat on top of it!
      Rav Yaakov B

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    2. Rav Moshe Feinstein ztzl Los pskened that sheitels were better than other coverings, because they stayed on better. Just saying...

      Also, I m really tired of all the cries for women to be mitchazek... What about the men? Why are there not signs up about men needing to be mitchazek in learning Torah, in learning mussar, in shmiras eynaim? Where are all the kol korehs about that? Where are the signs about that???

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    3. Unfortunately the Rebbe is DEAD and he was not G-d and nor was he ever excepted as the Rav for all the Jewish people. Albeit he was a righteous, man ok but chabbad is not the only example of Judaism, and they should step down as the only approved organization to represent the Jewish people as a whole for they are the furthest away from real Judaism, it is become clearer everyday that if there is nine men and a chabbadnik you should wait for a tenth to davin! Who are they to take control of the whole of Judaism
      and have their own agenda of control of world jewelry. I sick of "the Rebbe said this, the Rebbe said that" we really no longer know what or if he said for his talmidim have gone way off the path of truth and normalcy. I am truly sorry to bring it up but they are more christian than Jews and they are the biggest impediment to the geula that their beloved Rebbe espoused. Wake up people he is DEAD!!!!! and so is his ideal for the Jewish nation killed by his own chassidim!

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  2. i am a noahide. does this apply to noahides. also can you please tell me i was given to believe that unmarried jewish girls need not cover their hair. only the married ones. thanks. theresa

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    1. I don't think Noahides have to cover hair, but extra modesty never hurts. Ask your husband what he would think if you covered your hair.
      Also, it used to be that even unmarried girls covered their hair in public and especially if they were praying. It is less common nowadays.
      Rav Yitzchak Yossef, author of the Yalkut Yossef writes, "The custom has spread that unmarried girls no longer cover their hair in public, for the halacha is that an unmarried woman is not obligated in covering her hair. Only during the times when she prays or makes a blessing or mentions G-d's name must she cover her hair."

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  3. It is incorrect and misleading to suggest that there is, or should be, one standard for all Jews in all communities. It may also be spiritually harmful to Klal Yisroel.

    You are overlooking two very relevant and important halchic concepts. 1) Minhag Hamakom 2) Posek / Mora D'asra.
    a) There are applications of halachos and minhagim which are determined by minhag hamakom. This means that it is halachically valid to have different practices in different cities and different communities.
    b) The reality of klal yisroel today (though it is sadly and tragically a function of galus, it is still the operative reality) is that there are many, many equally valid applications of halacha and minhag in different communities. There are numerous sub-communities in the Sephardi Torah world, the Chassidishe Torah world, the Litvish Torah world and others.
    As long as communities are following the psak halacha of talmidei chochomin-poskim-morei horah in their community, they are beautifully fulfilling Ratzon Hashem.

    When the geulah is here (any day now) and we have a Sanhedrin, then we will have a centralized, national, common source of psak halacha. Until then, it is simply wrong for any one community to suggest that all communities, and all jews, should be living as they do.
    I also believe that for one community to suggest that everyone else should follow their psak halacha will only decrease the kavod and ahava that Torah observant Jews need to have for one another and increase sinas chinam.

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    1. All Ashkenazi Rabbis forbade wigs as well (Rav Elyashiv, Rav Vosner, The Gra, Chatam Sofer, Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach,The Steipler, to name a few) sources coming in the next article, G-d willing.
      Meanwhile, here is what someone else wrote in response, he had trouble posting the comment.
      To Shimon Apisdorf:
      There are things that yes should be for all communities. e.g. Shmirat Shabat. There are all kinds of false ideas by various "much learned ones" that cause Jews to either violate SHabat Kodesh or to refrain from things that there is no real basis to forbid. THAT is spiritually harmful to Klal Yisrael.
      Minhag in Hebrew has the same letters as Gehenom. There are also Minhagim that were for a specific temporary purpose. Wigs is THE major example. ALL the psakim & ALL the Minhagim for permitting wigs are in that category. So the Yeisser Hara who has penchant for going after/into the biggest or most important people in its never ending strive to pull down our people, saw to it that many of the Poskim etc of bnei Ashkenaz etc would not realise that the time has come to drop the emergency measures of back then.
      Recall that MANY Litvak & Hassidik & Ashkenazi Poskim have decreed that wigs are TRIEF!
      e.g. Rav Mikhel Dorfman zassa"l past president of World Breslov spoke out clearly WIGS ARE TRIEF only cloth headcovering is kosher!" This I heard from him personally. Rav Shakh was against wigs & long hair above forehead on men/boys; how many Litvaks listened at all?
      Rav Salanter zassa"l said in public that now (already in his days) that the Jews of Europe & Russia have come to live in Isreal they must abandon the Psakim & Minhagim of their Galuth & take of those of Eress Yisrael.
      This is just a short list.

      Wake up & see that what is often called Mara DeAtra today is a far cry from the level it should be. I as one ordained 45 years ago have seen all too many "poskim" & "Marei DeAtra" who gave psakim &/or do things dead in direct opposition to Musar, Torah, to Shulhhan Arukh, Mishna Brura, Rishonim & Ahhronim! This ssniyuth, taharath hamishpahha, Shabat, Kashruth, mamon, refuah etc.
      Yes there are a few real ones still around.

      a) There are applications of halachos and minhagim which are determined by minhag hamakom. This means that it is halachically valid to have different practices in different cities and different communities.
      If so then all Jews in Israel MUST do as Rav Salanter said & follow the Eress Yisrael minhagim & Halakha, which is basically what is commonly known as Sfaradi, for this is what developed & was lived all the time in Israel & surrounding countries.

      By the way do you know who Rav Ssvi Pesahh Frank zassa"l was? He was the chief rabbi of Yersushalyim a couple generations ago. When Rav Ovadia Yosef shlit"a, while still a young 17 year old yeshiva student, came to see him he stood up full on his feet to greet & honor him! When other Ashkenzi Rabbis asked whatever are you giving such honor to this young Sfaradi yeshiva boy for? Rav Frank replied, "You have no idea who this is. He is the Posek Hador Haba! (The chief posek of the next generation)"


      b) The reality of klal yisroel today (though it is sadly and tragically a function of galus, it is still the operative reality) is that there are many, many equally valid applications of halacha and minhag in different communities. There are numerous sub-communities in the Sephardi Torah world, the Chassidishe Torah world, the Litvish Torah world and others.
      As long as communities are following the psak halacha of talmidei chochomin-poskim-morei horah in their community, they are beautifully fulfilling Ratzon Hashem...

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    2. ...
      Don't be so sure of that. because we are so close to the final days, it is high time that the galuth ways are dropped & more unity especially that of following the way of Eress Hakodesh Yisrael be adopted. It is a requirement for speeding the Mashiah in mercy.
      Also recall what I said above about most of today's Poskim/Morei Horaah, & KNOW that MOST kollel men including Kollel deans & are considered Talmid Hhakham because they can talk gemara & mefarshim for endless time & give tons of pilpulim know very little of actual halakha lemaaseh!!
      Sad but true.

      bebrakha
      Rav Yaakov B

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  4. If a wig is suggestive, then it is against the spirit of the law of modesty, especially if the wig looks so very good and natural and young and if it causes men to look twice, it is not fulfilling it's halachic purpose...clearly. A lousy wig does not help matters much either so let's go with a simple solution: anything that is not a wig or made of hair.

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  5. The original wigs were hideous looking, the ones today look better then some womans hair. The woman are missing the point of why they are supposed to cover their hair. At least the chasisic woman where a shaitel and pill box, so they look married.

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  6. Let's be honest, the frum world loves everything mehadrin, except hair covering. The Lubavitcher Rebbe notwithstanding, sheitels are choice B, at best. My husband can no longer tell who's married these days. The old sheitels looked like sheitels.
    Where is the honesty, common sense, and zeal for kedusha?

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    1. Don't worry, all the meat that people think is so mehadrin is totally treif as well... More to come on that soon, G-d willing.
      See above in response to Akivas comment for the truth about the Lubavicher Rebbes psak.

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  7. To Rabbi Goldstein,

    I wear sheitels, especially, in public because it ensures that all my hair is covered unlike the tichel wearers who I see in my community. Time and time again, I have observed many tichel-wearers with more than a tefach of hair uncovered. Their actions are a breach of tznius, and cause men to sin. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt'l, stated:

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

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

    If you want to read more on the Rebbe's psak I suggest you click on the following link: http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/840202/jewish/The-Lubavitcher-Rebbe-on-Hair-Covering.htm

    In addition, it was Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the posek HaDor who also allowed wigs and in fact in a letter he answered to a husband who was concerned that his wife's wig may be considered maris ayin, the Rav paskened it is not.

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  9. Good for you, you have all the sources, but in the world of truth it will be a whole different story.
    And what's this kerchief business, we all know that nowadays you can get very good head coverings that are not wigs.
    Read the response made to the first comment above for a better understanding of the Lubavicher Rebbes psak. Also, stay tuned for something I'm working on called "What The Gedolei Yisrael say about Wigs"

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    1. I'm not a prophet, but I've spoken to dead people (after they returned to life of course) and they told me that up there, it is the world of Truth, and G-d hates immodesty, especially wigs and tight clothing more than anything else. I have one amazing story I hope to translate and post soon G-d willing of a French Jew who died, I have his phone number too, you can call him and verify it for yourself. He describes what happens up there for immodesty, etc. He says that even the kollel husbands who did not shut their Gemaras and deal with their wives immodesty have to pay the price too. i don't even want to repeat how bad it will be for the women themselves, and even worse are the shopowners who sell the stuff.

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    2. Two questions:
      1) There are women now in Eretz Yisroel who are wearing more-or-less head to toe black garments and veils. The ones that look similar to Islamic dress.
      I'm curious what you think about that. Do you know what Gedolim say about that? WOuld you consider that type odf dress to be the ideal in tznius?

      2) Are you aware of anyone coming back from the dead with a message about the awful punishments for sinas chinam and lack of ahavas yisroel?

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    3. 1)Yes, the more a woman covers up the better, and calling it 'similar to Islamic dress' does not do much to create achdut, these are holy Jewish women you are talking about.
      Most of the Gedolim of now and past are very in favor of it. There is a lot of disinformation out there by the Erev Rav who want to get us all to be walking out in the streets naked just like the Goyim. I have tons of stuff recently put out in Hebrew that adresses this question with many gedolim of present and past highly praising the authentic Jewish (not Islamic)dress. If you want to sponsor, I can try to get it out faster. May supporting this great mitzvah of tzniut stand for you and your family amen.
      2) Yeah, the dead guys speak about that too, but not in the same way they speak about tzniut. Call Moshe Levi 050-793-1191. He died, and he can tell you all about it, you can ask him yourself.
      Yehoshua

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  12. you say that the heter to wear wigs came from places that woman would not
    cover their hair. well in 50's and 60's most FRUM women would not cover their hair so Reb Moshe and the lubabich rebbe better to wear wigs than none at all.

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  13. "Yes there are a few real ones still around."
    The author of a comment to my comment says that there are still a few real gedolim/poskim/morei hora around today.
    I would very much like to know who they are.
    Meeting Gedolim and Tazaddikim is something that I make an effort to do, and I would truly love to meet these precious, holy few of our generation.
    Thank you

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