Kfar Chabd, Israel – Chabad Rabbi Decrees Long Sheitels Are Not Halachically Acceptable For “Kisoi Rosh”


(photo illustration)Wig stylist Gail Rosenzweig at her studio in New York October 22, 2008. REUTERS/Shannon StapletonKfar Chabd, Israel – Rabbi Mordechai Shmuel Ashkenazi, the chief rabbi of the Kfar Chabad village in Israel, has sent a letter to the dean of the Beis Rivkah Teachers’ Seminary in Kfar Chabad warning against the “phenomenon of long wigs” as an acceptable form of hair covering for religious married women, Israel National News reports (http://bit.ly/Y36WZ2).

In his missive, Rabbi Ashkenazi said long wigs are not appropriate for the purposes of covering one’s hair according to halacha. “Wigs with long, loose hair are not permissible as hair coverings, even more so when they are made of human hair that is meant to look like the woman’s own hair,” Rabbi Ashkenazi wrote.

The letter instructed the dean to urge students and teachers on the school premises to wear wigs which only come to their shoulders, with hair that is “tied back and not scattered.”

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    • What a load of baloney. Even as tongue-in-cheek, it’s a ridiculous comment. Personally, I agree with Rabbi Ashkenazi, my longest wig is shoulder length & I got that for my children’s weddings. I never wear it. I think long shetlach that go half way down the back are prost.

      • Prost does not make things assur. Just because you think a long wig is Prost should not and does not make it assur. Your red nail polish is prost but NOT assur. Plastic covers on your dining room chairs are also Prost, but i have yet to see a posek who forbids them.

  1. how could it not qualify for kisu rosh? it may not be eidel and tznius but it covers the hair the same way a reg shouldered length sheitel does. besides, the Rebbe encouraged human hair so women should look as nice as possible as opposed to horse’s hair.
    would a long loose horse hair sheitel qualify for kisu roish?

    • if the whole idea is to see that she is a married woman, how does a sheitel that looks as good or better than her own hair serve the purpose.
      when i see these women, i stand for a few minutes to decide if she is wearing a sheitel…..
      maybe to wear a band or hat over it would define a married woman…
      but that would not suit these women, as their goal is for everyone to say “WOW, it looks just like your own hair”

      • who said the purpose is for others to “see” that she is a married woman.
        1. It is erva, so the hair has to be covered. It does not matter with what. Many women will wear a beautiful shaitel so their own husbands will look at them as opposed to the other woman wearing a beautiful shaitel OR the other woman who is unmarried or not Jewish who has no responsibility to cover her hair.
        2. When the woman actively covers her hair, that activity reminds her that she is married and must conduct herself in an appropriate manner of a married woman.

        The idea has nothing to do with what OTHERS see, other people who have eyes must take responsibility for their own actions whether a woman covers her hair or not and no matter with what or how she covers her hair.

        And again, this Rav could call it “not permissible” all he wants but the bottom line is, once again we confuse halacha with chumra. One wants to be more machmir and wear a short shaitel … go ahead but don’t call it halacha.

          • A sheital is not ervah nor can it be. Then you do not know how to translate “ervah”. Ervah is nakedness. People keep translating “ervah” as “untzniusdik”. Hair is not nakedness. A MARRIED woman’s OWN hair, coming out from her head IS nakedness. Detached hair applied to a net, we call a wig …. is not ervah.

      • I stand for a few minutes…. what the h;ll why are u looking at woman like that its always about woman when will men learn how to control themself thats what u learn in torah. if its not on ur street it will be on another street u live in a world CONTROL. maybe the chabad rabbi should of had his wife or a knowed woman write this letter 4 some reason i always find it weird coming from a rabbi. PS in my friends chabad house these topics of tznius are given over by his wife.PSS my wife dress 4 herself 4 me and when she around her friends atleast thats what i belive or i should say hope.

    • When the rebbe said “women should look as nice as possible ” he meant what he said NICE as possible but not as Un-Eidel Etc, as possible!

      Yes, human hair is nice because its from a HUMAN and that’s all. If someone wants to take the nice human hair to the next step….Then do it on your own responsibility…!

  2. And we wonder that the watching world calls us crazies. This is going to bring Moshiach? The length of a sheitel? Remember not that long ago the sheitel burnings in the streets of Williamsburg? At the end of the day, the boils down to one common theme: Men’s inability to control their own yetzer. Hey – here’s a cure – marry a very unattractive woman. That gets shidduchim for all of them and subdues the yetzer for the man. (Hashem save us from ourselves!)

    • It’s a very common ploy to harp on the old refrain that men should control their yetser hora. But tell me seriously (if you are a man) do you (or men) really get turned on by hair? even long hair? Come on, please. Someone who does should really think seriously about getting help. pronto. Rav Ashkenazi was stating something that other rabbonim have been saying for several decades. It’s good that he finally said something, but perhaps too little, too late. In the end, it is a halachah just like any other.

        • Actually I can tell you, as a woman … that if it is the case that a woman has less than pure motives, it is more likely that she is competing with other women, rather than trying to get another man’s attention. Women tend to want to look better than their female counterpart only to show that other woman they look better than them, not to attract their husband. It is status. It is similar to the men who have “blank” contests by driving the better car. Their car is not meant to attract women, it is to one up the other guy. And any man who is trying to “show off their wife” has other problems they need to resolve quickly.

          • Yes you got me. My “Anonymous” moniker has clued you into all my credentials … including my lack of experience in Psychology. Although my BA in psychology.and my subsequent BSN in Nursing with clinical work in nursing psychology would beg to differ. You know so much about me from one comment that you should actually become a “psychic” …. Why don’t you leave the psychology to us credible folk.

      • that’s so true. i’ve talked with many women close to my age who see the newer shaitel styles as prust and we’ve been wondering where the rabonim were on this.

        • the rabbonim were where they always are – ignoring people like you who judge others. If you find such shaitels prust, don’t ewear them. if you have a problem with others wearing them, go ask your rov why he allows it.

          but for you to take such a self-righteous and condescending attitude here taking the rabbonim to task because they don’t share your concerns is ridiculous, as you usually are with your comments.

          So sit home and write your comments about every article on VIN, and I’ll sit home, like most other readers, and laugh at your frequent comments as the jokes they (and you) are.

        • Somehow the women who always complain about how other women look “too good” or “too attractive” seem to really have a hidden motivation for so planning:they are secretly jealous because perhaps they are not attractive themselves and feel threatened by the more attractive women,

      • Harping on that men should control their Yetzer? That is our avoda! Besides it is absolutely forbidden to look at a married woman for pleasure – even her little finger.
        I find the more people follow chumra the less halacha they know.

    • can u tell which ‘world’ calls us ‘crazies’? de goyishe world hate de yidden because of ‘lama nikra shemo sinai shemishom yardu sina leoilom’ becaue we accepted de taryag, because we keep de taryag. Yidde like u hate us because ‘gedola sins am hauretz letalmud chachem yoser misinas acum lyisroel’. So de only way we should avaoid ‘hating us’ is to abandon de taryag and join de goyim and yidden like u. But den we going to have a major problem . de midus hadin will hate us and bring destruction on de yidden like destruction of bais hamickdos de churbin of 65 years ago etc etc, which was de result of us abandoning de taryg. so ve in no win win situation.

  3. For the rest of us, we follow our Shulchan Aruch. The Shaitel, known in Halacha as “Peya Nachris” is acceptable and Kosher for a woman’s head covering. What constitutes as Daas Yehudis which contains Tznius issues, is not subject to modern-day interpretation. If this Rabbi is the leading Posen for the Cha bad kehilla then by all means he can ban anything he wants but these who don’t abide by his rulings can’t be called “sinners”. Nor would those who Chodesh to follow be “more pious” than those who choose not to.
    Can I see how short this Rabbi’s Peyos are? How about the men following the Shulchan Baruch in not cutting the head hairs level to the ears?

    • no one called anyone a sinner, if he is not your posek this is not binding on you, and you have no business mixing in how a rov paskens for his own kehila.

      Even more so when you are as big an am oretz and disrespectful as you are.

  4. Although I am about as far from hassidic as Ed Koch, I have wondered for decades how it is possible that orthodox women wearing wigs that make them look 10 times more attractive than they would otherwise look could possibly be acting in harmony with the point of women covering hair. These women perpetually like they have stepped out of a beauty salon.

    No one ever had an answer. Not regular orthodox rabbis, not regular orthodox Jews, and not certainly not the women, who are delighted that they can look as good as they can.

    Although normally I detest additional chumras that have no relation to reality, I’d think that anyone who understood even a little of why married women should cover their hair would understand the basis of this ruling. Of course, if your own personal code does not involve wearing wigs, fine, but if you do, why are you making yourself look so much more desirable to men other than your husband?

    Next up, perhaps, long slit skirts that double as floor sweepers, while at the same time going up to the belly button?

    • “Although I am about as far from hassidic as Ed Koch”

      Koch was from belz! his zeida was a real old time belzer, Koch chose to become a koch’ka and not a cusid, (it may have strarted with a shitel in the family, who knows)

    • The Halacha that a married woman must cover her hair has absolutely nothing to do with attraction. It is totally permitted and even encouraged for woman to look their very best as long as it is tzanua. Covering ones hair has nothing to do with tzinious.

  5. Al pi halacha, the Rov is correct. Many women are more attractive with their long-haired sheitels than without. Wearing a sheitel that is the same color as your own hair, but with prettier styling and allure completely defeats the purpose of the sheitel.

    After he finishes with the sheitels, the Rov can next work on the tznius of some women’s shoes. Not long ago, the only women who wore stiletto heels like some frum women do today were on 42nd Street in Manhattan.

    • Fully agree with #11. Women, Look in the mirror before you leave the house, if you look more sexy with the long wig and the high heeled shoes then you are not impressing Hashem, but the construction guy is very impressed. Look pretty, look jewish, Not sexy.

  6. many people need to kearn WHY women cover their hair. the reason is NOT because her hair is reserved only for her husband. and what is wrong if it looks natural?

  7. Please tell me where in SA it says a woman has to look unattractive. Please do not tell me that the beauty of the woman is meant to be private only, as there is no such halacha. Our generation has gone nuts with tznius issues while ignoring more fundamental issues of proper values and derech eretz.

    • Not only should a woman look as beautiful as is to be expected of bas melech, but the women were honored for the fact that they would use mirrors to adorn themselves for their husbands, that their mirrors were utilized in the bais hamikdash. It is all about motives. If a woman puts on a long shaitel with pure motives so she can be attractive for her husband and she acts like a bas melech and conducts herself in a manner becoming of a married woman than its fine. There are women who wear short shaitels and walk down the street talking loudly and chewing gum like cows and acting curt and lacking manners and clearly their manners are such that it does not matter what length of hair is on their head … they are untzniusdik. What chacham measure tzniut by the length of hair? That is like one who measures the extent of tzedek by the length of a mans beard, which is just as absurd.

  8. Rabbi Ashkenazi, please recite for us the chapter and verse from where you derive your ruling. Please I ask you, if a sheitel made of human hair, even if it’s my wife’s own hair formed into a sheitel, and that sheitel is lying on the table in my dining room, (and at that time my wife may even be a nidah) will I be “yotze” krias shema if I were to recite it in close view of that sheitel? I believe the answer is “yes”; there is absolutely nothing wrong – it is not referred to as “saar isha ervah”. I am “yotze” krias shema , because the hair is no longer a part of the woman, but only a head covering, like any other garment that may be on the table. Now, Rabbi Ashkenazi, do you also find a problem with very feminine full-head coverings, or a problem with fully covering attractive clothing for married woman? Or single unmarried girls with long hair? If you do have a problem with it, that is your prerogative; only, don’t say publicly that it’s Halachickly unacceptable.
    However, with all due respect to Rabbi Ashkenazi, I personally believe, that before seeking to attack the Halachikly valid long length and full-hair covered human sheitel, he ought to “address” the uncovered, knees, thighs, and elbows of the many women that parade up and down Kingston Avenue in Brooklyn every hour of the day, with no regard for basic laws of tznius. How in the world Lubavitch does not protest that lack of Tznius among their own, is not fathomable. How can they really expect the Rebbe Shlita to return and redeem the world when they permit such immodesty in their own neighborhood?
    Now again, Rabbi Ashkenazi, with all due respect to you, and with no disrespect intended, I have never been to Kfar Chabad, and don’t know if the women there dress the same as in Crown Heights; and I don’t know if you have ever been to Crown Heights, but I sure hope that your attack against the Halachicly valid long sheitel is not in itself being done as a cover up.
    Bottom line is, if you want to pull the wool over our eyes, I say no problem; but you should start first by finding some extra wool to cover over the aforementioned uncovered knees, elbows and low necklines.
    My sincere apology if I offended anyone.

    • “How can they really expect the Rebbe Shlita to return and redeem the world when they permit such immodesty in their own neighborhood?”

      Um, the Rebbe is dead, and as such should not be referred to as Shlita, but as ZL

  9. This Rav is entitled to issue a psak that says all married women must wear a bekeshe of a techelet color and a white gartel with a red velvet Borsalino and his chassidim would have to run home and give their wives the new fashion directive but that would not mean all the litvashe women in that town would show up in the identical outfits. While his psak on sheitels makes as much sense as assuring the internet, there are always some fools somewhere who will take this chumrah and treat is as torah me’sinai. You listen to your local rov or posek, until of course, somthing like this comes along and then you consider shopping for a new rav (rather than telling your wife to trash several thousand dollars worth of sheitels).

  10. To clarify what the Rebbe said:

    The Rebbe was discussing the importance of wearing a shaitul as opposed to a tichul. This was in the 1950’s. the rebbe was concerned that woman can be embarrassed by circumstance and have a nisoyoin to take off her shaitul. The Rebbe then said that the eibershter sent us a brocho that now (1950s) people who are not yiden are choosing to wear shaitels because it looks better than their hair. The Rebbe pointed out that this phenomenon was sent from Hashem to make it easier for bnos Yisroel to fulfill their mitzva.

    I remember hearing this from a lunavitcher years ago and I thought. This is a true manhig Yisroel.

  11. let the women look good … while they can and men have an obligation to control themselves . if u cant control yourself . then leave . if u cant leave see a therapist

  12. Is this Rav’s name Choni HaMeagel?

    This issue has long been debated among Sefardim and Ashkenazim for years and has already been paskened. People follow your own minhag.

    I think posters above are confusing two issues.

    First, the requirement that a married woman’s hair be covered, and not seen by men who are not her immediate family. There is NO stipulation as to what she can use to cover it*. She can cover it with a gold hat, or horse hair or a multicolored turban like in Williamsburg.

    Second: Women (and men) are required to behave and dress in a modest fashion. Typically, Tznius has been defined by a skirt length or dress style (slit no slit, form fitting etc.), but anything that calls undo attention is generally frowned upon. There is no commandment that women make themselves ugly, or unappealing.

    In fact, long hair on women (married or single) is really not that enticing or provocative. A multicolored turban on a woman certainly gets more attention than a human hair wig (even from India). As long as (most) the hair is covered, Ashkenazim generally have no issue with the length or quality of the wig.

    Stop looking at other Women!!!

    • Choni Ha’Me’agel is an excellent reference; in fact, when Sheitlach first became widespread, most poskim prohibited them, including the Chasam Sofer. The only reason the minhag became to be mattir was because women refused to accept the opinion- the majority opinion- that it is forbidden. Honestly, assuming hair has a din erva, do you think covering it with someone else’s hair makes a difference?

      But in fact, most women do wear them, and, as Reb Moshe said, the husband cannot impose his chumra, his preference for issur, on his wife. It’s like the hetter on Turkey which really doesn’t have a mesora, but now, it does, even though the origin of the hetter is basically indefensible. You can’t unscramble an egg.

      But please, those of you that say that the issur is foolish, please, don’t get all offended and vocal without some elementary investigation into the origin of the minhag to wear sheitels. Prohibiting long hair sheitels is a simple attempt, probably quixotic, to limit the extent of the emasculation of the halacha. Choni Ha’Me’Ageil is exactly on point.

      • Have you learned with R. Riskin?

        That is precisely what he taught us.
        At first a sheitl was assured. The women revolted, they want to look as good as the Gentiles. The rabbonim. Backed down and said ok. That is the true history in halaha.

  13. what i understand, that the reason one wears a sheitel is to cover ones ervah…so it doesnt matter what the sheitel looks like. a lubavitcher friend of mine who is a talmid chochem in his own right explained that to me…actually in lubavitch it seems the woman are more respected and involved…while my friend has a full beard learns and looks like a unkept chosid his wife looks like she just stepped off fifth ave…..i always found this funny..

  14. Bravo #16!!
    The only reason Halachacly that a woman must cover her hair is because the hair of a married woman is erva. In fact if you see the mishna brurah its not certain that in the home her hair must be covered, but the gemarah praises a woman who did so.
    That being said all should take note that in the late 80s all the Litvishe Gedolim including Rav Moshe came out against excessivly long shaitels they reccomended shoulder length. This was a matter of tznius, not anything to do with the halacha of sair isha erva. (We can be melamaid zchus on those with long shaiteld that It may be that since long hair is the way most women go today, that it is not abnormal and untsnius AS LONG AS THE ERVA IS COVERED.)
    Another very important point is: there is no issur for a woman to look beautiful. The mistaken notion that women look better in shaitels so it doesn’t serve its purpose is so misguided its beyond pathetic. Most women also look better clothed than unclothed, so they shouldn’t wear cloths because its not tsnius??? No, the reason for hair covering is erva period! And wearing nice clothing and shaitels is permitted until they enter the rhelm of non tsnius which I mentioned above from the Gedolim.
    FYI there is a problem ephasising that tsnius is a dress issue: tsnius is a modestly issue, its a humility issue, the word tsanuah means hidden not dressed!! Dressing properly is; a part of being tsnius, but the idea of tsnius is an attitude, a habit, a midah: the greatest midah of the Jewish Woman and their greatest mitsva. There can certainly be a woman wearing a long shaitel and she is a bigger tsanuah than another woman with a short shaitel. Dress does not make a woman tsanuah, her mida of humility, and humbleness, of being “hidden”/tsanuah is what makes his a tsanuah. Vhamaivin Yavin!!

  15. Reb Moshe Feinstein paskens unequivocally that sheitels are ok, even if they look like regular hair. He says it is not maris ayin, for if it were, then men would not be able to use shavers, since some might think he used a blade.

    When one thinks about it, since unmarried women are allowed to uncover hair, it is not that hair itself is an ervah. The ervah is that uncovered hair means I’m available. Once it is covered, no matter how attractive, it still means I am not available.

  16. Let’s be honest. A Jewish woman should look pretty and neat in public, but not like a raving beauty. The long flowing sheitels are really not tznius. As a woman I feel uncomfortable when I see frum women looking like Hollywood models. Of course you don’t wear horsehair! But also you should not look tinsely and glitzy and trying to attract male attention. The code word is kedusha. Let us strive to exude a sense of holiness and inner dignity wherever we go..

  17. My first question is “why now?” In other words, why is this suddenly an issue?

    Is there nothing more important going on in the community that needs addressing?

  18. Before everyone starts with chumras, the RambaM says the following (I,B :22:18-19)

    אין לך דבר בכל התורה כולה שהוא קשה לרוב העם לפרוש אלא מן העריות והביאות האסורות. אמרו חכמים בשעה שנצטוו ישראל על העריות בכו וקבלו מצוה זו בתרעומות ובכיה שנאמר בוכה למשפחותיו על עסקי משפחות

    ואמרו חכמים גזל ועריות נפשו של אדם מתאוה להן ומחמדתן. ואין אתה מוצא קהל בכל זמן וזמן שאין בהן פרוצין בעריות וביאות אסורות. [ועוד] אמרו חכמים רוב בגזל מיעוט בעריות והכל באבק לשון הרע

  19. It’s amazing to me that people need a Rabbi to tell them that long sheitels made from human hair are not what the Rabbis had in mind when they said women should cover their hair. Of course they don’t do what they’re supposed to do. That’s because women want to look good. So they do the letter of the law but absolutely not the spirit of it.

    • ” not what the Rabbis had in mind when they said women should cover their hair”

      First, Rabbis did not tell women to cover their hair. It was inferred from isha sota that married women were already either covering their hair or their hair was pulled up. That is because in that era ALL women covered their hair, even non-Jews. That was minhag hamakom. There are Rabbanim today who will tell you if a Jewish woman lives in Iran it could be she would have to wear a complete burka like the other women because it is minhag hamakom.

      How a woman covers her hair today in Western Civilization has much to do with the times and place we live in no different than the head coverings Jewish men have worn throughout our history. I can assure you that your alter, alter, alter zeidy did not wear a velvet kippa, nor did he wear a black borsalino.

      Second, what is the point mentioning women do not do it “in the spirit of it”. They don’t need to and that is the bottom line. It is not halacha period.

      Women want to feel like mentlach who can make decisions for themselves without the ridiculous overemphasis on tzniut which ultimately objectifies them, defeating the purpose and men need to lay off.

  20. Quote: Women want to feel like mentlach who can make decisions for themselves without the ridiculous overemphasis on tzniut which ultimately objectifies them, defeating the purpose and men need to lay off.

    Response: You bet. Women covering up and dressing modestly objectifies them. Far better for modern orthodox women to look like Beyonce on the Superbowl half-time show. Now there is a woman who is absolutely uncovered, and absolutely not objectified.

    • You miss the point … Men constantly touting that women’s lack of tzniut is what is causing all the worlds problems, or men who are going to extremes, even removing pictures of women from magazines, men in beitar taking someone to beis din because a face of a woman so hardly noticeable accidentally made its way into a magazine, is actually objectifying women. Men are paying so much attention to how a woman should dress that it is laughable to think they are so concerned that how a woman dresses is going to cause them to “pay attention”. Men have turned women into what is on their body and what is on their head so much that women are just objects.

      The fact that you know how Beyonce looked in the half time show is the real problem here dude.

  21. I’ll respect Rabbonim making decrees about women and the way the dress and look when I see them giving as much attention to their husbands tax fraud, cash businesses, Section 8 scams, etc.

    Oops, sorry, what on earth was I saying?!? Of course, whatever ills befall us as a community, it’s the women’s fault!

  22. 76: “Tzaddikim bimisoson kruyim chayim”, that applies no better than to this context. Correct yourself.

    With regard to sheitels:
    The hair of the head exudes pheromones, scents if you will, that are (subconsciously) sensed by others. These pheromones play a big part in attracting compatible partners. This has only recently been discovered by modern science. That Torah has considered a woman’s hair ervah for thousands of years is practically unbelievable. That a single woman need not cover her hair, thereby facilitating her attracting a compatible partner, also demonstrates that these pheromones are whats at play here. Since a sheitel facilitates the blocking of pheromones, even were it made of her own hair, it is acceptable.

    There is an issue in halachah addressing that a covering should be recognizable as not a woman’s attached hair. Since most sheitels can be identified as sheitels, they are therefore acceptable. It stands to reason that long sheitels are either, not sufficiently identifiable as sheitel coverings, or that in their differing design do not sufficiently block the escape of pheromones.

    Either way, a man’s self-control is 100% irrelevant to this subject. vdal


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