A world renowned expert of tsnius and halachah in
general, HaRav Falk argues that in our times there should be
particular emphasis on these matters. Recalling the words of
the Chofetz Chaim almost 80 years ago, he points out that the
only instance in which we are threatened with abandonment is
in the case of pritzus. Thus in our times, when the
awful events give this impression, there is a special
importance to strengthening the bounds of tsnius.
In this final part, HaRav Falk concludes with some more
technical details and then returns to the general themes of
tznius and our worrisome situation.
F. Hat at Front -- With a "Half-Sheitel"
Whilst the hat on top of the sheitel (as worn in many
Chassidishe circles) is additional tznius, instituted
to emphasize that the sheitel is in fact a sheitel (as girls
do not wear such hats over their hair), the large hat at the
front of the head with just half a sheitel in the rear has
the exact opposite effect. The hair simply does not appear to
be "hair from a half-wig" but rather to be the young woman's
As has already been stated, a sheitel is predominantly
recognized from its front, as it can be seen that the hair
has not grown out of the front of the head. With the complete
front of the sheitel missing and that area replaced by a
modern ladies' hat or peak cap, the telltale signs of the
sheitel have been obscured. Due to this, the hair that shows
at the back half of the head appears to be her own hair.
Apart from the shortcoming mentioned, there are further
faults with these types of headwear. The hat in front of the
sheitel easily gives the woman a showy, sophisticated and
even student-like look, which is not desirable. The peak-cap,
or more accurately the baseball cap, has a very sporty look
to it and also imparts a distinct masculine type of
appearance -- both of which are negative features which
detract from the refinement of the woman, although she may
not realize it. In addition, with the baseball cap, hair from
the area around the ears often peeks out and remains
G. Band at Front -- With a Three-Quarter Sheitel (Fall-
The "broad band and three-quarter sheitel" known as the "fall-
sheitel" presents the same problem and shortcoming as the
"hat and half-sheitel" described in the previous piece. As
explained, the "identity tag" of a sheitel is at the front,
where it is obvious to the observer that these hairs do not
grow from the scalp, as the hairs of the sheitel stand too
high above the forehead to be the person's natural hair. By
obscuring and masking that area, the all-important signs are
blurred and the three-quarter sheitel that can be seen behind
the broad band also passes as her own hair. Although this
sheitel has become widespread in some areas, it still remains
a forbidden type of sheitel.
It is incorrect to claim that this style sheitel is
recognized as a sheitel because it is worn exclusively by
married woman who are wearing a sheitel. This is incorrect,
because it is gradually becoming fashionable also for
unmarried girls to sport these head bands and to wear them in
a way that no frontal hair shows.
An additional problem with this type of headwear is the fact
that the band, which sits just above the true hairline,
easily moves backwards, thereby revealing part of the real
hair. This is such a common occurrence that they even supply
ear pieces (for those who request them) to ensure that the
band does not slip back.
It could even happen that this woman eventually wants to have
hair showing above her forehead. Since the sheitel only
starts towards the back end of the band, the only way this
can be done is by pushing the sheitel backwards, thereby
revealing some of her own hair. As no hair of a married woman
may be seen (as stated in Mishna Berurah 75:10), this
type of sheitel is a stumbling block and obstruction to the
upkeep of the Torah.
Two types of faults must be avoided (some sheitels might
incorporate both these faults). First, a sheitel that has a
feature that has obviously been incorporated so that it looks
like the wearer's own hair, and will be taken as such at
first sight. Such a sheitel must not be worn even though it
is, in fact, not totally camouflaged and the average person
will be able to tell that it is a sheitel and not the
person's natural hair. Sheitels mentioned in sections A, B, C
and D are forbidden because they belong to this category.
Second, a sheitel that is not detectable to the average
person. Such a sheitel must not be worn even if the features
were incorporated just to beautify it, not in order to
camouflage it. Sheitels mentioned in Sections E, F and G are
forbidden because of this second category.
Whilst writing about sheitels, which is the purpose of this
article, it was also felt the some of the present problems
concerning snoods should be mentioned. The basic points
concerning snoods are covered in sefer Oz Vehodor
Levushoh (pages 239 (2), 257 (2)). There are, however, a
number of recent trends that are categorically wrong and
against the halachic requirements of kisuy sa'aros.
First, snoods that are not just made to fit snugly on the
head but rather are strongly elasticated to hold them firmly
in position, present an obvious problem. Such snoods are put
on in a way that the lowest part of the snood (through which
the elastic band runs) sits on top of the ears. Due to this,
hair that should be covered next to the upper part of the ear
and in the vicinity of the ears is left uncovered. (See
Shabbos 59b Rashi s.w. Nizmei).
Second, some snoods are made of a silky material which is see-
through, at least when the sun or an artificial light shines
through it. One can then see all the hair and this is
categorically wrong. Hair is classified as ervah (see
Brochos 24a) and the hair is forbidden to anyone other
than the most immediate family. Accordingly, a snood must be
either lined or be made of a non-see-through material. It
should be noted that some snoods become see-through as a
result of washing them as the Lycra stretches and becomes
translucent. One must watch out for this.
How to Buy
When buying a sheitel, one should ensure that:
- it has a dark-colored net. Skin-tops are therefore
- if it has a part, the parting is dark-colored as is the
rest of the net.
- the front is not back-brushed, as the hairs appear to grow
from the scalp.
- it is not ultra-flat at the front, especially when of high
- the sheitel does not hang down at the front or back past
- the front of the sheitel is not replaced by a hat or broad
These points are apart from the general refinement of the
sheitel. This requires that it not have a wild, open look, a
wet-look, a lopsided look or anything unusual. See sefer
Oz Vehodor Levushoh, 5:D:3 for further elaborations.
J. Girls should be Taught about this Mitzvah
It seems strange that many young ladies who are careful with
general aspects of tznius, and conduct themselves to a
high standard in these matters, nevertheless stumble badly
with marriage and, when faced with the mitzva of kisuy
sa'aros for the first time, don unacceptable types of
headwear. Quite incredibly, these fine girls who are careful
to keep halacha properly and are refined in their everyday
conduct, wear sheitels that are unacceptable both from
kashrus and from refinement points of view.
It is strongly felt that the high number of problems in this
matter has a definite cause. In seminary, students will have
heard and been taught about tznius of dress and about
public conduct, and this leaves a deep mark on the girls and
set them for life on the right track.
However, concerning kisuy sa'aros nothing will have
been said to them for it seems premature and somewhat
inappropriate to talk to them about matters that concern only
married women. We now see that this policy is wrong and that
many a deplorable type of headwear would not have been worn
had girls been introduced to the correct hashkofos and
halachic requirements of this highly emotive subject.
There is, in fact, a great advantage in teaching this subject
to girls. Since hair-covering does not apply to them before
they become engaged, they are likely to be far more receptive
to guidance than they will be once they are married. After
marriage they are torn by peer pressure, family pressure, and
unfortunately sometimes by "spouse pressure" from husbands
who do not know what is right and what is wrong and set
demands on their wives -- who may instinctively feel it is
incorrect but are defenseless, as they have not actually
learned any true facts or hashkofos on the subject.
Chazal teach us: "The evil inclination of man finds new
tactics every day (with which to cause a person to stumble
and do wrong)" (Kiddushin 30b). It appears that the
yetzer hora has found himself no better target than
the holy mitzva of kisuy sa'aros -- hair-covering,
which he continuously undermines with new ploys and
There were times when he managed to entice women to forsake
this mitzva altogether, and women who kept Shabbos,
kashrus, taharas hamishpochoh and other areas of
mitzvos would walk around in public with no hair covering
whatsoever, imagining (for no good reason) that the mitzva
does not apply nowadays. He is, however, far too sly and wily
to attempt to cause the present day Bais Yaakov-educated
young lady to totally abandon this mitzva. He is nevertheless
busy nonstop, destroying the character and significance of
this mitzva and, to our great distress, with much success.
We live in a generation in which the descriptive words "it is
a beautiful sheitel" no longer means "it is an appealing head
wear" or "it is a beautiful piece of clothing." Instead it
means "the sheitel looks totally natural and is
undetectable." To our shame, looking natural has become the
standard of beauty, as far as sheitels are concerned.
When buying a sheitel, instead of putting an effort into
buying something that will be attractive to her husband, the
young woman is striving to look like "a girl" in the eyes of
the general public.
The yetzer hora is furthermore making a farce of this
mitzvah, as he ensures that the focus of women is on "how to
beat the decree" and overcome the restriction the mitzva
presents, rather than on how to ensure that this mitzva is
kept properly and that all hairs are covered.
To make the disease truly contagious, the yetzer hora
knows that if he manages to encourage the wife of a talmid
chochom to wear an undetectable sheitel this will be a
major scoop for him. Other unsuspecting young ladies will be
convinced that the wife of a talmid chochom cannot
possibly do wrong and will therefore follow her example.
The writer of this article called up a professional in
another country who cuts and sets sheitels and is considered
to be an outstanding expert in her field. She indeed spoke
about the excellence of her work. She reported that her
sheitels are so perfect and natural- looking, that her own
daughter, who had been married for years and already had a
fourteen-year-old son, was "gerret a shidduch" by a
shadchan. He had mistaken her for being still single,
because she looked so young in her sheitel and projected the
natural image of an unmarried girl.
Although this professional probably knew no better, the truth
is that rather than pride herself on such an achievement, she
should have been distressed with the result of the styles and
settings that she engages in. Her achievements are
diametrically opposed to the will of Hashem when He commanded
married women to cover their hair. Our sad response to the
incident just reported must be, "Woe to us that this special
mitzva has fallen into such disfavor!"
To combat this assault, let us strengthen ourselves and deny
the yetzer hora this foothold in our midst. Let us
group together and resolve that all who belong to our
immediate circle will not wear these wrong types of sheitels.
Finally, let us also pray the time-tested tefilloh of
Vetaheir libeinu le'ovdecho be'emess -- Purify our
hearts to serve You with honesty and integrity.
Our hearts should be truly aware that nothing is more
beneficial than to fulfill Hashem's mitzvos properly and
perfectly, without compromise or adjustment. When we
appreciate that this mitzvah, alongside all other mitzvos, is
a privilege and a gift from Heaven, we will fulfill it
impeccably and flawlessly with a heart full of joy and
Tznius Counters Yishmoel
Let us return to what was mentioned at the start of this
article i.e. the troubles we are experiencing from bnei
Yishmoel (the Arabs) and their claim to all or at least
part of Eretz Yisroel. The following should be noted.
The Zohar Hakodosh (end of parshas Vo'eiro)
states that bnei Yishmoe have a partial claim on Eretz
Yisroel because they too do bris miloh, and Eretz
Yisroel is given as a reward for fulfilling the mitzvah of
Bnei Yishmoel, however, only do an inferior and
meaningless form of this mitzvah. They do not do
peri'oh (the final stage of the miloh process),
they do not do the mitzvah on the eighth day after birth.
Above all, they do not apply themselves to the outcome of the
mitzvah which is to bring about kedusha and extra
morality, for they live a distinctly immoral life. Yishmoel
nevertheless has a minor merit, and in our times the
Sar (heavenly representative) of Yishmoel seems to be
claiming his due.
Klal Yisroel should know that it is within their power to
neutralize the claim of bnei Yishmoel to Eretz
Yisroel. If they ensure that their bris miloh is
complete, both in performance and achievement, it will
totally overshadow and make worthless anything performed by
Hence, if Klal Yisroel do this mitzvah properly and ensure
that the outcome of this mitzvah is as Hashem wills it to be,
so that kedushas Yisroel is once again a true part of
their life, they will see the power of bnei Yishmoel
negated and totally annulled.
Tznius, of which kisuy sa'aros is an integral
part, is the far-reaching contribution of neshei
Yisroel towards kedushas Yisroel. The more they
fulfill the requirements of tznius, and the more they
strengthen it amongst their family and close associates, the
quicker and more effectively will the power of Yishmoel be
Calm and tranquility will be'eizer Hashem be granted
to our camp, and Moshiach Tzidkeinu will come speedily
in our days to herald our long-awaited redemption. (See
sefer Kol Dodi Dofek on the subject of Golus
Yishmoel, chapter 19).