Hair seems to be a focus point of the Yetzer Hora. We
encounter Eisav -- full of hair. Hair comes into play with
Yosef Hatzaddik, who, the Midrash tells us, curled his hair,
which aroused the evil inclination. Hair is an issue with the
Nozir, as with Shimshon and again, hair comes into play with
Avsholom. It crops up with a fascinating episode concerning
`bald' Eliyohu and with Elisha.
What better Parsha than Korach for some more thoughts on the
sheitel issue? When Korach came home completely shaven (from
whence he got his name, `bald') so as to qualify him for the
Levite service in the Mishkon, his wife ridiculed him and
thus began the controversy between Korach and Moshe.
The wife of Ohn ben Peles, on the other hand, rescued her
husband from the dire outcome of an association with Korach
by actions again connected with hair.
Plenty to be said on this subject.
Hair Today, Gone Today
by Bayla Gimmel
As I write this, the sheitel issue is still evolving
and I do not know what the final outcome will be. However, I
must say that in the past few weeks, we have all learned a
great deal about ourselves, about others and more.
It was a beautiful, uplifting experience to go out on the
Shabbos morning right after women had been asked by our Torah
leaders to refrain from wearing human hair wigs -- and to see
a snood, scarf or turban on every married woman passing by.
It fostered a sense of camaradarie, as if to say, "We are all
in this together."
When I was living in Calfornia, I would often see non-Jewish
neighbors driving their morning school car pools with their
hair done up in rollers, usually with a scarf or turban
wrapped around them. But the Jewish women would usually wear
their wigs to drive their nursery car pools or to even to
water the plants in their front yard.
Here in Israel most of us dress more casually within our
neighborhoods. Snoods are just fine for wearing pretty much
all day long, whether in the house, the street, the health
clinic or to the grocery. However, women do like to get more
dressed up when they go into town and a wig has usually been
part of that.
To some extent, for stay-at-home women as well as their at-
work counterparts, there has been an element of sacrifice in
giving up the wigs. The amount of sacrifice varies greatly
from individual to individual.
And that is one of the lessons we have all learned from this
entire event: `Don't judge your sister until you have walked
in her snood."
I personally was not affected in the least by the ruling. My
usual hair covering is a tichel. I have a deal with my
sons that I wear a wig for each of their bar mitzvas
and their weddings. Sheva brochos are negotiable.
Aside from those occasions, if you see me in a wig, it isn't
I keep my small collection of wigs, all 100% synthetic and
priced way below $100 apiece, in plastic bags in my closet.
After my youngest son gets married, I will probably donate
them to the neighborhood gemach, since I don't have
the same arrangement with my grandchildren.
I have learned over the years that by wearing solid colors
during the week, my cotton and polyester kerchiefs match
every outfit in my closet, according to my taste and
Most of today's women cover their hair according to someone
else's choice. Whether it is their husband's taste, their
neighborhood's standard or the tradition of their particular
Chassidus, most women do not get to select what should be a
very personal part of their wardrobe and they end up wearing
the same style and price as the other women around them.
A young woman whose husband is involved in kiruv told
me recently that she got a new fairly long, flowing human
hair wig for the first time a year ago Pesach. During the
summer vacation, a non-observant distant relative was touring
Israel and was invited to spend a Shabbos. After all,
shouldn't kiruv begin in your own family?
They went for a walk on Shabbos afternoon and all of the
women were wearing their expensive long human hair wigs, many
with `skin' parts, which had become the standard in that
neighborhood. As they returned to her building, the visitor
said to her hostess, "Tell me something. I used to think you
religious women were supposed to cover you hair. When did
that change?" After that, our hostess did not feel so
comfortable in her new wig!
My dream is to see the following happily-ever-after ending to
the sheitel story: firm guidelines from our Torah
leaders on the modesty aspects of the wigs that are
acceptable in our communities [Ed. Rabbi Falk has itemized
these guidelines and YATED printed them. Now who is going to
implement them?] and price limits on how much one can spend
on a wig [Ed. According to income or absolute?].
If we are addicted to keeping up with the neighbors, please
let's make sure that everyone can participate in the
sheitel party. I don't know if they were exaggerating
or not, but people told me that some cost over $1000.
I know for a fact that there are people in my neighborhood,
Neve Yaakov, who eat little more than bread and white cheese,
and drink nothing but water all week long, and can only buy
Shabbos food with the help of vouchers from our local
chessed organization. How do these women feel when
someone walks by in her human hair extravaganza?
Can you blame someone for looking at her neighbor's new
`hair' acquisition and calculating how many portions of fresh
fruit and yogurt, let alone gefilte fish and chicken soup,
that wig could buy for her children...
[Ed. And to think that a decent hat, kerchief or snood can be
gotten at your local clothing gemach for two or three