Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

7 Sivan 5764 - May 27, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Home and Family

On Wigs and Wings...
by Pessy Miller

Ultimately, we will follow the ruling of daas Torah.

In the meantime, though, the sweeping magnitude and vast extent, the massive weight and intense volume of the current sheitel shayla that has caused us to replace our beloved wigs with tichlach, snoods and berets, has also brought in its wake much discussion, evaluation and reevaluation.

There is something tremendous and indescribable about being one among a staff of over two hundred teachers in a Bais Yaakov high school who, without any prior discussion or preplanning, all turn up in school one morning without their usual and familiar headgear. All pangs of embarrassment (at having to face smirking students and amused associates) are quashed by the overwhelming sense of pride of being part of a Kiddush Hashem of unprecedented proportions.

Throughout Geula, no less teeming than on any other Thursday morning at the particular time I pass through daily, I counted only five women wearing wigs (presumably synthetic or otherwise permissible) among its crowd of Erev Shabbos shoppers. A unique beauty is shared of being united in an eternal mission, sharing a common Divine goal... of being Hashem's representatives in this world, His emissaries fulfilling the dictates of His Torah...

After all, how do we married women cover our hair to begin with? Is it not a mitzva which requires a certain degree of courage and mesirus neffesh to cover our sleek black hairdo or our lovely golden tresses?

Perhaps at one time, the answer was `yes.' But if we are honest with ourselves, today absolutely no such concept exists. As young girls, we look forward to the day we can don the hairstyle of our choice, the perfect color, desired thickness and ultimate cut that suits us best.

The wig industry has developed and improved its wares to the extent that the ever-so-natural looking sheitlach look so much more glamorous than our hair could ever possibly have hoped to look. The time-honored custom of wearing the wig has been replaced by the tell-tale honor of wearing the custom.

The tzniyus factor, which is the underlying core of the commandment of hair-covering, is traded in for multi- directional hair protruding from an all- natural-looking skin top, perhaps leading some to think they are actually being mehader in this mitzva which by Halacha simply requires that one's hair be covered. The very idea that the married woman's appearance, refined and put together as it may be, must be downtoned to avoid alien beholdings etc., is overlooked, if not completely ignored.

Then there is the issue of the cost. Recent years have brought about a heretofore incomprehensible sum being spent on a wig. It follows that the more particular we are about achieving that perfect look (to keep up with society's standards), the more we are prepared to spend to achieve that look (again, in keeping with the standards of our society).

The astronomical figures parents, already burdened by the cost of making a wedding and setting up house, must lay out for their daughter to be a knockout, or that kollel husbands must pinch and scrimp together in their otherwise selfless pursuit of Torah learning in order to get their wives the custom wig of their dreams, has reached a point which is most ludicrous. (The absurdity of it brings to mind Abie Rotenberg's song mocking exaggerated wedding expenditures, ending with words, "for we are dealing with a crowd that's, oh, so very proud... of how to keep the laws of modesty!"). Indeed, what are our values? How far has modern society allowed us to fall?

The recent finds should hardly surprise us, as we ourselves have made an avoda zora out of our sheitlach. We worship the absolute, flawless, ultimate look, and we sacrifice to that end nearly all that we have. Definitely something worth thinking about.

As mentioned at the outset of this article, we will do as our poskim tell us. In the meantime, I am quite comfortable, cool, and content in my snood, in both a physical and spiritual sense. The beauty of tzniyus which shines through, the absence of ostentation apparent on every woman we pass in the street -- this is beauty in its purest form.

After all, in Whose eyes do we seek to be beautiful?!


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