Volume 24 Number 68
                       Produced: Thu Jul 18  0:16:09 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Divorcees and Covering Hair
         [Janice Gelb]
High Cost of Weddings
         [Esther Posen]
Vows vs. Respect (2)
         [Jay Cohen, Merril Weiner/CAM/Lotus]


From: <Janice.Gelb@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Mon, 8 Jul 1996 11:37:20 -0700
Subject: Divorcees and Covering Hair

In Vol. 24 #57, Hannah Gershon said:
> Instead, I cover my head in the same fashion as the married women in my
> community do. (Hats, scarves -- not a wig, though!) I guess a lot of
> people just assume that I am divorced.

I gather from this that divorced women are expected to cover their hair
and I am curious as to why: I always thought that married women covered
their hair so no one but their husband would see it. Why, then, would a
divorced woman be expected to do so? Also, since in most communities
only married women cover their hair, I've seen uncovered hair taken as
a sign that a woman was unattached, which would seem to apply equally
to a divorced woman as to a single woman.

Janice Gelb                  | The only connection Sun has with this      
<janiceg@...>   | message is the return address. 


From: <eposen@...> (Esther Posen)
Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 13:52:12 -0500
Subject: Re: High Cost of Weddings

First off, I believe the author of the Jewish Observer article
referenced by Eli Turkel is Dr. Aaron Twerski who is a lawyer from Far
Rockaway not a phsycologist.

Secondly, it is slanderous to say that the people who espouse the
importance of daas torah don't follow daas torah.  IMHO the proper
interpretation is that the gedolim who represent daas torah are careful
not to be "m'chayev" the rabbim in an area where they sense the klall is
not ready to be mkabel their musar since that reflects badly on the
k'lall and dilutes the influence of "daas torah".

I personally disagreed with Rabbi Twerski because I know lots of people
in the income bracket he describes that make very simple affairs and are
struggling under the burden of you guessed it - tuition!  Although
tuition is compared to food for shabbos in his article (both don't
affect income decided on Rosh Hashanah) there is still a notion that a
rich person buys different food for shabbos than a poorer person.  The
exclusion from spending for shabbos is still relative to income.  The
same must be true of tuition and it is unclear whether someone making
$100,000 will not suffer if he pays $50,000 to tuition.

As far as paying rebbeim a living wage, it never ceased to amaze me how
tuitions go up about 10% and my teaching friends get a 2% raise.  We are
insisting on standards of education that we cannot afford as a
community!  We are becoming slaves to the American dream of a superior
education!  We should be forcing our schools (and we do have the power
collectively) to hold all aspects of the budget constant for 3-5 years



From: <jlcohen@...> (Jay Cohen)
Date: Mon, 8 Jul 1996 20:09:21 -0400
Subject: Vows vs. Respect

On Mon, 01 Jul 1996, "Anonymous" [Subject: Vows vs. Respect, mj 24 #54] wrote:

>I have been wearing a tallis and kipah since I was Bat Mitzvahed 10
>years ago.  At that time I took a very private vow, between me and G-d
>only, that I would take on these and other mitzvot that are not
>required of women.  I believed strongly in this vow and I still do.  I
>won't go into the reasons behind this here because they are private,
>but suffice it to say I take this vow very seriously.

Let me first announce my bias.  I respect and admire you for what you
did -- and more so that you have maintained it for ten years.  If you
still truly believe in your vow, then you should continue to follow it.
At the same time, and in retrospect, you should also be open to the
possibility that the details and particular form of your vow *may* have
been more appropriate to your life ten years ago.  As you have grown,
your committment and covenant with G-d can grow too.  Surely HaShem can
understand and adjust for such growth so long as the underlying
committment remains alive.  Other posters have already pointed you to
the mechanics of becoming released from a vow.  I hope to help you in
making the decision on whether or not to have it annulled.

[p.s. Twenty-five years ago I proposed the use of a vow by women wishing
to take on the obligation of time-based positive mitzvot.  My teacher
called the notion "imaginative", lauded its use of talmudic sources and
then totally dismissed its effectiveness.  Since that time I have given
little or no thought to such a possibility, and never heard of someone
actually doing it.  I'd be interested in hearing more if you wish to
share it -- how you got the idea, authorities that you considered while
making the decision, and whether you know of others who have done

>But now I'm in a conflict.  ==[portion omitted re: visiting friend,
>removing tallis & kipah, having "one of the best shabboses I've ever
>had", but feeling "the absence of my kipah" and "absolutely terrible"
>about both its loss and the breaking of the vow.]== I would love to go
>back and spend shabbos there again, but I don't think I could not wear
>my kipah.

What you describe sounds perfectly natural to me.  You are uncomfortably
caught between the dictates of society and your own personal integrity.

>But I also don't want to offend them--having now met them I do think
>some of them would be offended and I doubt the children would be able
>to drop the subject.

Not wanting to offend your friends and their community is laudable.
Maintaining your personal integrity is essential.  You can maintain that
integrity quietly or vocally -- that should make no real difference.
You need to find a way to be respectful to your friends *and* to
yourself at the same time.  With *children* however, the calculus
changes.  There you need to bend a bit more.

>I am very interested to hear some opinions of people who are more traditional 
>in their beliefs in this area.  What do I do?  

I am not certain that I qualify as someone who is more "traditional in
their beliefs".  My conservative, reform and reconstructionist friends
believe that I am "orthodox".  My orthodox friends have differing
opinions depending upon what side of me they most appreciate -- [I've
been called everything from one of the thirty-six to an apikoros].  I
consider myself to be (1) Jewish, (2) Observant [shomre mitzvos] and (3)
Someone Who Constantly Lives In That Uncomfortable Place That You Have
Experienced Where The Community Pulls You One Way And Your Essence Pulls
You Another Way.  For that reason, I feel qualified to put in my two

Your choices -- it seems to me -- are simply these:

==1== Have Your Vow Annulled.  This choice is a rather straightforward
solution.  Reading between the lines of your posting, however, I think
that this would be hard for you to rationalize and live with -- but
maybe I'm assuming too much.

==2== Don't Associate With A Community Which Cannot Appreciate Your Vow.
Picking this choice is internally consistent but robs you of a
potentially wonderful community.  It also (by the way) robs that
community of an even more valuable asset -- a committed, thinking and
action-oriented Jewess.

==3== Educate Your New Community So That They Become More Accepting Of
You And Your Practices.  This *can* be done, if done gently and with
extreme honesty, humility, respect, patience and perseverence.  This can
be (slowly) accomplished if you always *act* appropriately -- and
respectfully answer all questions and challenges placed at your feet.
It cannot be done if you affirmatively engage your community in a
debate, or lead them to believe that you are on a mission to change them
or their children.

==4== Modify Your Vow (or your practices) So That Outward Appearances
Are Less Obvious.  The two practices you mentioned were those of wearing
a tallit and of wearing a kippah.  You could explore ways to modify your
practice (or alter the details of your vow) in these two areas:

TALLIT: You could wear a tallit katan.  Would that satisfy the terms of
your vow?  Of course you would still lose the feeling of being wrapped
in a tallit.  If that feeling is important to you, then you could regain
it by wearing a four cornered shawl which, by its color, design,
texture, and appearance would be "obviously" feminine.

KIPPAH: Does your vow specifically require the covering of your head by
a kippah?  There are many forms of "head coverings" -- many of them
being traditionally female.  If none of the traditionally female head
coverings will suffice, perhaps you could wear a feminine looking cap
that bears the general shape of a kippah.  My ex-wife used to crochet
some very attractive head coverings around the size of those worn by
middle-eastern men.  They were white, had lots of open work, and were
decorated with roses or dainty flowers.  There was no mistaking that
they were both "kippot" and "feminine".  If this would solve your
problem, I could try to put the two of you together in way that she
might make one for you.

You should recognize, however, that there will always be an occasion for
someone to be put off by your head covering.  I have been places where
the community looks askance at men wearing crocheted kippot -- and other
places where a crocheted kippah is considered almost as a sign of extra
devotion.  I have been places where the wearing of any colored
(non-black) kippah was considered nearly heretical. Indeed, there are
communities where the kind and shape of the hat worn over (or instead
of) a kippah is as important as the kippah itself.  Need I say more? --
yes, I'll say one more thing along this line ... Since my divorce should
I continue to wear a tallit in shull (per the minhag of various of my
ancestors) or should I cease wearing it because I am no longer married
(per the minhag of various other ancestors).  What I am trying to say is
that such minhagim, community standards and expectations can be quite
frail and less important than some people tend to make them.  I think it
is important for you to be true to the halacha and your self first --
and to follow community standards second.

>Is there any halacha on this issue (aside from women not wearing men's 
>clothing--I am VERY versed in this area, and I took the vow anyway)?  Anybody 
>see the issue another way?  HELP!  Thanks in advance!

Needless to say I neither have the knowledge nor the right to poskin. On
the other hand, perhaps you could use the following as a starting place
for a full discussion with your LOR of your pariticular situation,
motivations, and dilemna.

==1== Women Are EXEMPT (not prohibited) from performing time-related
positive mitzvot.  [See: Kid 29a].  If your LOR says that women are
*prohibited* send me an e-mail and I'll give you some references and
logical arguments for him to consider.

==2== The mitzvah of wearing tzitzit is considered to be such a
time-related positive mitzvah. [See Kid 34a] -- but this opinion was not
universally held [See Men 43a] .  Similarly (although not mentioned by
your posting), the mitzvah of teffillin is considered to be such a
time-related positive mitzvah [Also Kid 34a] -- and this opinion was
also not universally held [See Erubin 96a].

==3== Throughout Jewish history there have been times and places where
women have worn tzitzit -- and a vast array of authorities have
recognized their ability to do so.  For instance, in Talmudic times, Rav
Judah instructed the women in his household to wear tzitzit on their
four cornered garments. For instance, Rambam wrote that woman are
permitted to wear tzizit, but cannot say the traditional brachah when
putting on a tallit.  In the case of tefillin (which I see as even more
of a potential problem than tzitzit) King Saul's daughter and the Maid
of Ludmir wrapped themselves in tefillin and received praise (or at
least understanding) rather than scorn from the community.

==4== I don't know of any substantial reason why a woman cannot wear a
kippah or a tallit.  One cited reason is that a prohibition against
cross-dressing.  This can be solved (as noted above) by overtly
feminizing your "kippah" and "tallit".  Another cited reason is that a
woman wearing such "badges of malehood" is acting in a haughty/prideful
manner.  Maybe yes, maybe no, but can we really generalize?  I think it
would be better to be charitable in our assumptions and approach to our
fellow man (including our fellow woman).  I think that we ought not be
so threatened by individuals struggling to bring a sense of kadosh into
their daily lives.

Hope This Helps

Jay Cohen    <jlcohen@...>

[I wanted to send *most* of this privately, but anonymity forced me to post it]
[I am not on a crusade -- and am not looking to fight with people who believe 

From: Merril Weiner/CAM/Lotus
Date: 8 Jul 96 16:47:02 EDT
Subject: Re: Vows vs. Respect

"Anonymous" asked for help regarding her dilemma of her vow to wear a
kipah versus respecting an Orthodox family with whom she stayed.

Fact is, even if you decided that your vow was not binding, you felt
terrible about not wearing your kipah.  Whether you continue to keep
your hair covered or not in the future is irrelevant for the present.  I
suggest the following to deal with your current conflict.  A permanent
decision can wait.

Wear a hat or scarf that clearly does not cover the entire crown of your
head.  This will fulfill your purpose of keeping your head covered while
davening, but also will be seen as decoration and not something that a
married or once married woman would wear.  One example of this is a bow.
Not only are you keeping your head covered with something that does not
make you look married, but it is very feminine and is clearly beged
isha.  I suggest buying several large bows, so that you can match them
to your clothes and then are even less conspicuous.

This worked for a friend of mine and I hope that it works for you.

Good luck!

-Menachem Weiner


End of Volume 24 Issue 68