Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

18 Av 5764 - August 5, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Home and Family

Head-On Reflections
by S.W.

When I was a gullible little girl, my older friends played `heads and tails' with me with pennies. They once tried this one on me: "Heads I win, tails you lose." It didn't take long for me to figure that one out.

I sort-of feel at the confused juncture of `Heads I win.' Is that where we're standing now? Is it really true? Is this decision the best for everyone?

A very long letter came through my FAX machine. I cannot possibly give it full justice, and to be honest, I am not certain that I wish to or feel obligated to.

The writer proposes a full switchover from the sheitel to a cloth headcovering.

The dust from India has settled. The starlight of our sudden self-sacrifice has dimmed and many of us are again those Jewesses who have `synthesized' the sudden awakening and arousal. Sure, they sacrificed their expensive human hair wigs on the altar, but they have settled for the kosher kind.

I imagine that among YATED readers, there is a relatively high percentage of women who have made the full switch. Perhaps with a bli nedder, as in my own case. Perhaps pending the weddings and bar mitzvas of all their children, as with our religious pace-setter Bayla Gimmel [see Parshas Korach]. But I cannot in all honesty and respect to my dear sisters, prescribe for everyone to make the switchover. It has to be a well thought-out decision that takes many factors into account. Nor would we want to look down our noses upon our dear friends and neighbors who do not opt for that choice.

For me, it was a relatively easy decision, although to tell the truth, I think that halachically speaking, my sheitel rarely had to be pulled down to hide escaping hairs. I think one of the reasons for my switch was that, being involved with the clothing centers, I was often being referred to and looked up to as `rebbetzin', and felt personally uncomfortable with that. I don't feel up to that title; I lack the patience and so many other worthy attributes of a rebbetzin, even though I may qualify by virtue of being married to a great rabbincial figure. (Do you know any rebbetzins who read a 500-page novel in two days?)

So when this opportunity, this choice, came round, I instinctively thought, "Well, now I can at least look the role." And I revelled in the compliments that I subsequently received and still get. I did not interpret them as being esthetically complimentary, but as befitting. It's like a pat on the back/head. So be[fit] it.

My personal feeling at the switchover perhaps simulates the feeling of a boy turned three who is now metzuve v'oseh and wears his kipa on a shorn head proudly and with miniature dignity. My `new' headcovering is my yarmulke, so to speak, my yorei m'Eloka, which is the source of that word. I feel my hat on my head, am aware of it, feel a stronger Shivisi Hashem lenegdi somid, which is how it is meant to be. Indeed, it just struck me: Shvisi -- my shvis, my headkerchief - - is before my mind's eye...

In contrast, I look at the women who are still in sheitels, and I cannot help feeling a wee bit sorry for many of them. I see the hairstyles of part- in-the-middle and the hair that keeps falling into the face (on purpose, it is styled to do exactly that and somehow draw attention to the wearer!), only to be brushed away every few minutes or jerked back with an unnatural motion of the head. All these hand and neck motions seem so involuntarily vain. Study a few women at your next opportunity and see how much energy is wasted just flicking away those stray fake locks. A wig should be an accessory like an appendix is an organ. On your head, and forgotten about.

Okay, so those are my gut sentiments. Here, then, are excerpts from the article I received from a Mrs. Fisher: Take it -- by all means -- or leave it -- but upgrade something about your head fashion.

May the Shechina Rest on Your Head

excerpted from an article by Mrs. Fisher

What belongs on our head? That which will bring the Shechina closer.

If we could delve into the negative counter-productive consequences of placing anything connected with idol worship on our head, G-d forbid, we would shudder. It could hamper our level of kedusha and make it more difficult for our prayers to be accepted. Such candid reflection would result in a rejection of anything even faintly resembling such a transgression, for which we are required to give our life.

Fortunately, Hashem compensates us for our good deeds on a much greater level than for the opposite. Thus, it is awesome to consider what a powerful catalyst we can become, bringing a flow of blessing and many salvations upon ourselves, our families... All we need to do is simply wear halachically irrefutable head coverings.

Hashem has sent us a loud and clear message: "NOW is the time to upgrade our level of tznius!" The unfathomable has transpired. The far-fetched possibility of our having any connection with avoda zora happened! It elicits a similar shock to that of the collapse of the Twin Towers. Who would have dreamed of such a thing? It is a message which Hashem, in His infinite kindness, is relaying to us.

We know about Kimchis who merited exceptional children because she excelled in tznius. Does it make sense to use a head covering that might look like real hair? It also certainly does not make sense to wear a head covering that might resemble something related to avoda zora. We must distance ourselves from maris ayin. [Ed. And no one can deny that people from the secular world suddenly realized how many religious women were actually wearing wigs, when they had to replace them!]

Hashem has granted us the gift of recent events which have served to function similarly to the ring that Achashverosh gave to Haman, which brought us back to proper Torah observance. This could be one of the best things that ever happened to you in your life. With Hashem's help, you will see much blessing in it.

Should your husband object, you could: 1) leave around some literature on the topic, 2) consult with a Rov on a way to influence him, 3) go shopping with him for a suitable head covering, 4) bring home a selection for him to choose from.

[We cannot ignore the fact that] a major cause of the Churbon was that Jewish women conducted themselves haughtily and with a lack of modesty, as Hanovi Yeshaya notes.

Oh, how truly uplifted and beautiful these Jewish faces look with a new, refined `frame'. May they all merit to be granted beautiful families. You can literally see the Shechina resting on them. What a merit. What a pleasure to behold.

May we all merit to perceive the true intent of the mitzva of head covering. May we all merit the inherent blessings that come when the Shechina is present. May this tznius improvement result in the arrival of Moshiach, speedily in our day. Amen.


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