Volume 8 Number 1

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Call for Papers - Jewish Special Education
         [David Schers]
Women and Hair Covering (2)
         [Lon Eisenberg, Shaul Wallach]
Women's Prayer Groups and Kadish
         [Warren Burstein]


From: David Schers <davidsh@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 93 03:47:01 -0400
Subject: Call for Papers - Jewish Special Education

 Tel Aviv University School Of Education

  Kelman  Center for Jewish Education 

Announces a Conference on:
Promoting Excellence and Expanding Options in Jewish Special Education

December 26-29 1993 at The School of Education, Ramat Aviv Israel. For
details please contact

Professor Malka Margalit, Dr. David Zisenwine, Dr. David Schers,
Tel Aviv University, 
Ramat Aviv, Israel. Fax 972 3 640 9477.    				


From: <eisenbrg@...> (Lon Eisenberg)
Date: Sun, 27 Jun 93 02:45:54 -0400
Subject: Women and Hair Covering

Shaul Wallach said:
>     Incidentally, the Talmud (Ketuboth 72a) makes no distinction
>between married and unmarried women in this whole issue,... Today
>this custom survives among a few Oriental Jewish communities,
>such as Tunisians and Yemenites.

There are many Yemenites living in my community.  I don't think I've every
seen any of the unmarried women with covered hair.

From: Shaul Wallach <f66204@...>
Date: Sun, 27 Jun 93 16:06:31 -0400
Subject: Women and Hair Covering

     Thanks very much to Eitan Fiorino for his worthy contribution
to the discussion of women's hair covering and the pe'a nokhrit ("wig").

     In dealing with Rav Moshe's lenient ruling which Eitan cited, I
have a major subjective difficulty. His reasoning appears to be based on
sevarot (rationales) - such as mar'it ha-`ayin, `erwa, attractiveness,
etc. - which are not given explicitly by the Talmud as the reason for
the issur (prohibition) of peri`at ha-rosh (uncovering of the head).
However ingenious and sophisticated these sevarot are, its seems to me
that in the end they lead to a practice which deviates from the original
purpose of Dat Yehudit. The Talmud in Ketubot clearly requires women to
cover their hair, yet in wearing the pe'a a woman looks like she has
uncovered hair. The Talmud in Shabbat which permits the pe'a (braid) in
a private court does so precisely so that the woman may be attractive,
but only to her husband, not to the public. All the commentators agree
that the purpose of the pe'a is to make a woman who has sparse hair of
her own look like she has attractive hair. The Encyclopaedia Brittanica
(vol. 23, p. 501, 1970) confirms that this was the purpose of the wig in
the 16th century, when the Shiltei Ha-Giborim published his
controversial ruling. Is it reasonable that the very device designed to
simulate natural hair with something more attractive should be
considered a valid hair covering??

     Eitan asks about R. Ovadia Yosef's reasoning. Before answering
this, I should re-emphasize that R. Yosef forbids the pe'a for all women
regardless of `eda (community), and that the overwhelming majority of
poseqim who preceded him in this were Ashkenazim; these include such
eminent authorities as the Ya`avez (R. Ya`qov Emden), the Vilna Gaon (in
Shenot Eliyahu on the Mishna, where he says that the pe'a is worn under
the scarf), and the Hatam Sofer.

     R. Yosef, in his long responsum in Yabia` Omer (part 5, Even
Ha-`Ezer 5), forbids the pea on the basis of Dat Yehudit, and starts his
argument with the explanation of R. Nathan Ba`al Ha-`Arukh of the
following passage of the Talmud Yerushalmi (Ketubot 7:6):

     Rabbi Hiyya in the name of Rabbi Yohanan: a woman who goes out
     in her capillitin is not considered as having her head uncovered.
     What you say is to a court, but to a mavoy ("entrance", i.e. alley)
     she is considered as having her head uncovered.

R. Nathan explains the word "capillitin" on the basis of the Latin as
"hair, tresses, and pe'a nokhrit". The modern Jewish lexicographers A.
Kohut (on the `Arukh), J. Levy and S. Buber (in `Ateret Zevi on R.
Samuel b. Jacob Gama`'s additions to the `Arukh) likewise derive this
word from the Latin words capillatura, capillitium, or capillitio.  All
three forms mean "a head of hair", and the first of these, as well as
the related capillamento, is used by classic Latin writers to mean false
hair or a wig as well (see, for example, Petronius in Satyricon 110; and
Suetonius in Gaius Caligula 11). From this R. Yosef concludes that the
uncovered pe'a or wig is included in the prohibition of going out in
public with an uncovered head.

      The same word appears in the Yerushalmi in Shabbat 6:1, where "Rav
Huna permitted the wife of the Exilarch to put a golden libra on her
capillita". The "libra" is possibly an ornament in the shape of a pair
of scales. As a woman of rank, the Exilarch's wife was not liable to
take off her libra and show it to her friends and thereby violate the
prohibition of carrying on the Shabbat. If we interpret R. Huna's ruling
as dealing with a private courtyard or alley which does not have an
`eruv, then the Exilarch's wife would not be violating Dat Yehudit if
she were to remove her libra and expose her hair or pe'a, and R.  Huna's
ruling would then make sense.

      R. Yosef brings another line of argument cited by the Be'er Sheva`
from the Talmud in Nedarim (30b): "One who vows (not to take benefit)
from those whose heads are black is forbidden to bald men and
gray-haired men, and is permitted to (derive benefit from) women and
children, for only (adult) men are called 'black headed'". The Gemara
asks why he is permitted to derive benefit from women and children, and
explains, "men sometimes have their heads covered and sometimes have
their heads exposed, but women always have their heads covered while
children always have their heads exposed". Rashi explains that women
"are not black headed and are wrapped every moment in white." If women
wore uncovered wigs, argues the Be'er Sheva`, then the Talmud wouldn't
be able to say that women are not "black headed". The Be'er Sheva`
argues further that from here there is proof (as the Rambam and the
Shulhan `Arukh ruled, as previously) that unmarried adult women must
cover their hair. Although R. Yosef rejects this in view of more recent
opinions, I think the Be'er Sheva` has a strong case here.

     R. Yehoshua Boaz (in his Shiltei Ha-Giborim) tried to gather
support for his lenient view from the Talmud in Nazir 28b, in which the
anonymous Tanna Qamma holds that a man cannot prevent his wife who has
completed her vow of a nazir from shaving her head, because "it is
possible with a pe'a nokhrit"; that is, she can wear a wig (or braid)
and look like she is long-haired and not shaven. But here also there is
no proof that she goes out this way in public, because she can wear it
at home or in her private court in front of her husband, just like the
Mishna in Shabbat says, as we explained above. Since halacha goes
according to this view (Rambam, Hilkot Nezirut 4:17), it looks hard for
Rav Moshe's ruling in Iggerot Moshe that Eitan cited, since she can
shave and wear a pe'a nokhrit in private for her husband!

     Eitan discussed the pe'a from the point of view of `erwa: "if
severed hairs are no longer an erva, then it is permitted." This does
appear to be the rationale of all those who follow the Shiltei
Ha-Giborim and the Ram"a in permitting the wig. But here also I'm not
convinced that the argument is conclusive. It may very well be that the
pe'a is not `erwa but the wig is still a violation of Dat Yehudit.  In
order to see this, let us remember first that when Rav Sheshet said
"hair in a woman is `erwa" (Berekhot 24a), he meant that her husband is
not allowed the read the Shema` while looking at his wife's hair, as the
Gemara points out 2 rows before - there is no need to mention this for
other women because one is not allowed to look at their hair in the
first place. Thus, when the Ram"a added pe'a nokhrit in his hagaha
(gloss) to the Shulhan `Arukh (Orah Hayyim 75:2), he meant only that her
husband could recite the Shema` in front of his wife while she is
wearing a pe'a nokhrit, which is what that section of the Shulhan `Arukh
is dealing with anyway.

     Secondly, let us recall what the pe'a nokhrit really is according
to the Rishonim. The Tur and the Shulhan `Arukh (in Orah Hayyim 303:18)
follow the explanation we cited previously and described it as "a
braiding of hair which she braids into her hair". The Ram"a comments on
the Tur (ibid., note 6) that he found in the "New Alfasi Glosses" (i.e.
the Shiltei Ha-Giborim) that a married woman is allowed to uncover her
pe'a, because only hair connected to her flesh is `erwa. This has, of
course, nothing to do with Shabbat, so the Ram"a didn't make his hagaha
in chapter 303, but in chapter 75 where it belongs. However, since the
Ram"a made no comment on the actual definition of the pe'a in 303:18, we
can assume that this was what he had in mind in 75:2; namely, a braid of
hair attached to her own, but not necessarily a whole wig.  This makes
sense when we look at the whole text of the gloss:

     Likewise (i.e. one is allowed to read the Shema` in front of)
     women's hairs which come out from their Zamatan (probably "locks"
     is meant), not to mention false hair even if she usually covers

 From this language it is plausible to assume that the pe'a (or false
hair, as our text reads) is indeed usually covered, but at home she
uncovers it for her husband, just like the edges of her own locks of
hair that are normally uncovered (up to 2 fingerbreadths, according to
Rav Moshe). But there is no hint at all from here that the Ram"a would
permit a woman to go in public with her whole head covered by a wig, or
even with an uncovered pe'a. For if this were so, we would have expected
him to make a gloss to this effect on the Shulhan `Arukh in Even
Ha-`Ezer (115:4) which deals with the zeni`ut requirement of Dat
Yehudit. From the very selective way he copied the Shiltei Ha-Giborim, I
propose that the Ram"a was careful not to allow the whole wig in public
and restricted his leniency to that of a single braid with regard to
reading the Shema` in private.

     Eitan also poses a good question about women uncovering their hair
completely at home. To the best of my memory, this is permitted
according to Dat Yehudit, since the prohibition is only in places where
the public goes through (see Ketubot 72a and the Yerushalmi).  If I
remember right, the Bayit Hadash (or someone else) interprets the
Yerushalmi to forbid a women from uncovering her hair even in her house,
but most of the Aharonim are lenient on this. I don't know, though,
whether they mean this even in the presence of other men or not.

     As far as women's hair being `erwa, however, my impression is that
the majority of scholars differ with the `Arukh Ha-Shulhan. One of my
rabbis did permit me once to say divrei Torah in front of women whose
hair was not covered, and relied on the Ben Ish Hay (R. Yosef Hayyim of
Baghdad), who was lenient for the same reason; namely that European
women go around with their hair uncovered. But again, I think most
scholars today are strict about this. Perhaps saying divrei Torah is
different since no Biblical commandment is being performed and the
Talmud mentioned "women's hair is `erwa" only in connection with reading
the Shema`.


Shaul Wallach


From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Sun, 27 Jun 93 03:18:03 -0400
Subject: Re: Women's Prayer Groups and Kadish

    Chana composed the first complete prayer mentioned in the Tanach. Miriam
    and Dvora organized the women to sing to Hashem. But there is no source
    which proves these Holy women would have favored women's prayer groups
    or women's kadish.

And there is also no source to suggest that they would not have.

[Now that we have said Yea and Ney we can let this particular point
drop.  In general, it is fairly meaningless to say what some long dead
person would or would not have said or done. Mod.]

 |warren@      But the principal
/ nysernet.org is not worried at all.


End of Volume 8 Issue 1