Friday, November 07, 2008

A Suggestion For The "Conservatives"

9 of the Eighth Month 5769

Recently, I saw a woman, probably in her 20's walking down the street in Jerusalem, wearing a kippah.

She was dressed quite modestly, too.

The combination of kippah and woman has never looked right to me, even when there has been an attempt to feminize the kippah.

Am I against women covering their heads? No, quite the contrary. I believe that women should cover their heads, yet for different reasons than those identifying with groups of Jews, embracing such concepts as "egalitarianism."

My suggestion is this, cover your heads with something more authentically Jewish. Sure, as long as I do not don a massar or turban or the like, and continue to wear a kippah myself, I suppose I can't talk per se. But just humor me for a moment.

After all, I'm only making a suggestion. You can take it or leave it.

Not married? So what? "Feel" like you need a "vote from the past?" (Oh, right, that's "reconstructionism.") Then check out the view of the Ramba"m:

הלכות אישות כד,יא [יב] ואיזו היא דת יהודית, הוא מנהג הצניעות שנהגו בנות ישראל; ואלו הן הדברים שאם עשת אחד מהן, עברה על דת יהודית: יוצאה לשוק או למבוי מפולש, וראשה פרוע ואין עליה רדיד כשאר הנשים, אף על פי ששיערה מכוסה במטפחת;

Laws of "Ishuth" 24:11 [12] And that which is Jewish Law is the custom of modesty which B'noth Yisra'el have been practicing; and these are the things that if she had done one of them, she has transgressed Jewish Law: going out to the shuq or to an [occupied] alley, and her head is uncovered, and does not have a shawl upon it like all of the other women, even though her hair is covered in a kerchief....
And, before you ask,...Yes, he is referring to all women and girls, not just the married ones.

The added benefit of covering your hair is that you can show how much "frumer," and "authentic-looking" you are than the many "datti" women who unfortunately do not cover their hair, perhaps even giving added legitimacy to your group or "movement."

Think about it....


Post Script: A few years ago, when I first spent Shabbath in the town of Eli, I noticed my host's daughters coming home from kindergarten with their respective heads covered. Since my host holds by the Ramba"m, I commented on his daughters coverings, saying that really IS a "Ramba"mist." He laughed, and said that no, his young daughters do not cover their hair due to the Ramba"m, but rather it is an effective way to prevent them from catching lice.

Apparently, this custom was instigated by the large French immigrant population, which brought this practice from France.

I suggested that gradually we are being led back to authentic Jewish practices, albeit sometimes in roundabout ways.


BrooklynHabiru said...

Many translate רדיד as veil...

As a side note, here's the latest in the Yeshiva-world: R' Elyashiv:"Sheitels Are Mamesh An Ervah"

Esser Agaroth said...

Hey! Good to hear from you, and I was waiting for someone to say that!


You are absolutely right.

But's sort of {we'll see} a qiruv post, so I didn't want to push it.

Regarding sheitelach, Lakewood Falling Down mentioned this. I'm awaiting the hate mail for my comments.

Risa Tzohar said...

I think Rav Ovadia Yosef actually put this in a tshuva of his. When I was a little girl in NYC we always went to shul with a hat (and often white gloves) but I attribute this to the fact that we lived in a Catholic neighborhood. :~)

Leah Goodman said...

when the stupid scarf slips back from your head for the 700th time in an hour, let me know how you feel.

Esser Agaroth said...


It's all in your choices of materials, and how you tie/affix it to your head.

Yes, I know, cuz I have also worn head covering more authentic than today's kippah, and am shopping for material for something I can wear on Shabbath {to start out with}.

So, I guess I'll have to let you know.


Jewlicious said...

כשאר הנשים

Clearly Rambam was promoting a notion of modesty that was subjective. Think about it. It's based on the norms prevalent at the time of writing. Which isn't to say that modesty is out of date but rather that standards of modesty are in flux. Things that titillate in one generation barely raise an eyebrow in another. I pity the man who tries to make his Hashem fearing Jewish wife wear a veil.

Esser Agaroth said...

ck, you're almost right.

First off, though, I'll remind everyone that the point of this post was to use the logic of a number of "liberal" Jews to provide an alternative to a kippah.

I believe that anyone who complains about something needs to provide an alternative, and not complain for the sake of complaining,...however enjoyable that is for some people.

The keshar hanashim is only in relation to the redid shawl/veil, not modesty in general.

There is some leeway, like with shawls/veils and footwear.

Since this was a suggestion, and not an admonition,...which, no doubt, would have fallen on deaf ears, I cited Hil. Ishuth 24:11, instead of Hil. Issurei Bi'ah 21:17 which is an explicit statement of the law.

The Shulhan Aruch, as most people know, does not require head covering for virgins.

Lion of Zion said...

"I suggested that gradually we are being led back to authentic Jewish practices"

the rambam lived in his own milieu. just because he codified it doesn't make it more "authentically Jewish."

"And, before you ask,...Yes, he is referring to all women and girls, not just the married ones."

i'm asking how you know this. (almost?) everything else in the surrounding halakhot certainly deal with married women only, so how do you know here it refes to singles as well?

"Many translate רדיד as veil"

that's hagahot maimaniyot

Batya said...

nu, yaaqov, so you don't like my crocheted hats?

And Risa, in the '50's hats were very common on women... to the Easter Parade...

Esser Agaroth said...

LOZ, my response will be similar to my response to CK regarding the "relative norms" of his day vs. the explicit halacha (Issurei Bi'ah 21:17).

It's pretty clear from the context that the Ramba"m is most definitely speaking about all women. See Rav Qafah's commentary for more information. The Shulhan Aruch has to state that a virgin does not have to cover her hair. Why? To show disagreement with those who say that they do.

No one is saying that it is more authentically Jewish because he codified it. I'm saying it's more authentically Jewish,...than sheitelach, Western hats, and certainly not covering her hair at all, which IS the halacha and one cannot get around it.

Redid not a veil? NOT agadah, not by any means. See Rav Qafah.

Leah Goodman said...

virgin is the wrong translation.
Betulot is used to mean bachelorettes, as Bachurim in those contexts are used to mean bachelors, not men who've never done the deed.

Esser Agaroth said...

Batya, I don't have any issue with crocheted hats per se. It is after all another form of craft related to weaving.

How to weave is a practical matter. Wool for the winter, something lighter for the summer.

Do you also make veils?


Esser Agaroth said...

triCat, This is not the language of the Ramba"m certainly. I have yet to find the time to look in the SA.

Unknown said...

I'll thank you for this whole discussion. (not!) since this topic came up, my husband's got on this trip about our 6 yr old daughter wearing a scarf or something out in public, and we're in TX....HELLO! Only Muslims make their unmarried girls cover in public, and we're living in a post-9/11 not so-haircovering-friendly society. Any guess as to the harrassement or 'evil-eye' one would recieve should we be at the local discount store or any other Jew-less environment.
And another thing: since it's become so customary for unwed girls to not cover and for married women to cover but with one layer, it would seem that any marraige-minded guy might have a problem hooking up should all females decide to start covering all at once.

Esser Agaroth said...

Jews living in Eretz Yisrael is the leKhathilah (first and foremost, ideal) situation for Jews.

I treat the condition of Jews living outside of Eretz as an afterthought, albeit with special considerations, just like the Ramba"m. Thus, this post was addressed to those women residing in Eretz Yisrael.

I certainly would not want anyone in my family's safety to be threatened, let alone simply on the basis of attire. So, your reasons for not allowing scarf wearing are reasonable. But I will defer to your husband on this issue, as it should be.

This, of course, does not preclude women from wearing Western, less conspicuous, head coverings, and any appropriate head coverings in a beth kenesseth or in private.

A kippah is not.

In addition, you are quiet mistaken in your regard for what is customary. 1. Many Hassidishe women still hold to two layers, as do some Mizrahi women. I couldn't care less what they do in Galuth. The customs there are irrelevant to Jewish life except in the protection of life as stated above. 2. It is "customary" for the women in some communities not to cover their hair at all. What would you say to that then? The Aruch HaShulhan reminds us, using this very example, that even if something has come into custom, it does not mean that it is right and according to halaacha.

That being said, like the title says, it was only a suggestion.

Unknown said...

Ok, so I understand the context of 'being in Israel' which at one time was the case for me. Now, that the land spit me out and I have to live in galuth for the time being, I still have to be mindful of the halacha and it would have been helpful for RMBM and others to have had that in mind when writing the MT, etc.
btw: the ashk. women I've seen wear a wig (which rmbm says essentially doesnt' count as a covering since you still have to cover it completely, which they dont') and then a "hat" on top of that where you still see the wig. I wouldn't assume that's halachically appropriate. As for the Mizr.women, they've been poisened by previous group.

Esser Agaroth said...

Have it in mind? He did, of course.

No matter.

I most certainly agree with you about the "poisoning" to which you refer.