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Sunday, August 07, 2005

Peek-a-boo

I read a book yesterday, "Hide and Seek" which is an anthology of women talking about their decision to cover their hair after marriage. The book offered various rabbinic (Orthodox) opinions, a few saying that hair coverings were not necessary, but most saying that Jewish law obligates women to cover their hair, and giving the textual sources and past rabbinic decisions which support them.

Most of the book, however, was devoted to different women talking about their personal decision -- whether to cover their hair, and if so, how (all hair, partial, wig, kerchief, cool scarf, etc).

It was definitely interesting to read about how many women struggle with this decision, and how many take it for granted, and enjoy their head-covering and the status that it affords them (as a married, or once-married, woman). Women wrote who shave their heads upon marriage and don head-coverings, and who are pleased that they do so. One woman wrote about her decision to remove her hat, but to be honest, from what she wrote, it seemed that she was never comfortable with her decision to wear it anyway, and removed it more as a political statement (removing herself from right-wing Orthodox circles) than any true understanding of what the halacha was.

A lot of women did write that they had come to their decision to cover their hair after reading and learning the halachas of hair-coverings, but again, these are women who are committed to halacha, and wouldn't disregard halacha, no matter what their own personal feelings/struggles were.

I started wearing a hair-covering after Ariella was born, and it was never much of a struggle for me, though I do uncover my hair in my own house, which many authorities agree is permissible (though to be honest, not desirable...it must be admitted that sometimes, strangers walk in while I'm bare-headed).

My decision of how much hair to cover has mostly been determined by the community that I affiliate with (religious zionist), which allows for some hair to show, but the scalp to be covered.

As to why I chose hats and scarves over wigs, well, my reason is one that I didn't see covered in the book -- in my wildest dreams, I could have never afforded a wig, while all my berets and scarves were actually given to me. I have a large collection, and I don't think that I bought more than a few. I guess that that's as good a reason as any theoretical or philosophical one.

I have started to color my hair recently, so what sticks out is no longer gray, it's a nice brown, which, I guess, is almost as nice as a nice wig. At any rate, I barely have time to pluck my eyebrows once in awhile...how I would ever take proper care of a wig, not to mention the expense of restyling it periodically, is beyond me.

At any rate, at this point, the berets are my "style", and I'm not quite ready to change it.

And no matter what happens with my marriage, I'm not going to forgo my hair-covering...my committment to Jewish Law, I have realized, is not dependent on anyone around me, but comes from within me, and the example of that that I provide for my children is worth the periodic discomfort and extra effort involved in keeping that particular mitzva.

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