Uncovered Hair at Home

Uncovered Hair at Home

 

Question: May a married woman walk around her own home with her hair uncovered?

Answer: It is well-known that a married woman may not reveal her hair and it is therefore customary for women to cover their hair with bandanas, head-scarfs, and the like so that their hair cannot be seen. It is likewise a Mitzvah for a man who married a woman who does not cover her hair to try and convince her gently with kind words, gifts, and any other available resources to cover her hair in line with the Torah’s commandment. Similarly, if one sees that one’s wife does not cover her hair according to Torah law, i.e. she reveals too much hair in the front or in the back, one must speak to her in order that she cover her hair appropriately according to Halacha.

It has nevertheless become customary that women reveal some of their hair in the front (approximately two centimeters worth) and they indeed have on whom to rely. Those who cover all of their hair are especially praiseworthy.

Let us now discuss our question regarding whether or not a woman may walk around her house with her hair uncovered when no other men are present besides for her husband and sons.

Maran Ha’Bet Yosef (Even Ha’Ezer, Chapter 115) rules that according to the letter of the law, a woman may walk around with her hair uncovered when she is home with her husband. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l in his Sefer Tahorat Ha’Bayit (Volume 2, page 166) quotes Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l and other Poskim who rule that a woman may walk around her house with her hair uncovered even when she is impure.

As we mentioned in the previous Halacha our Sages (Yoma 47a) tells us that Kimchit had seven sons, all of whom served as Kohanim Gedolim (High Priests). The Sages asked her, ‘What have you done to merit this?’ (Her son, Rabbi Yishmael ben Kimchit was well-known throughout the Talmud, Avot of Rabbi Natan, and the Tosefta.) She replied, ‘The beams of my house have never seen the braids of my hair.’” Rashi, in his commentary on this Gemara, quotes the words of the Talmud Yerushalmi which expounds the verse in Tehillim (45, 14) as follows: “All honor [awaits] the king’s daughter who is within; her raiment is superior to settings of gold”- A modest woman deserves to have a son who shall be a Kohen Gadol dressed in golden settings.

Indeed, some say that that this is not mean to be taken literally and is only meant as an exaggeration that she almost never uncovered her hair besides for when it was absolutely necessary, such as when she showered, etc. The Menorat Ha’Maor concurs that this was only meant as an exaggeration. Nevertheless, we can infer that it is a pious custom for a woman to be careful to cover her hair at home as well, similar to those men who do not take off their Kippa at home.

Although there are some Acharonim who rule quite stringently regarding a woman covering her hair at home, Maran zt”l writes in his Tahorat Ha’Bayit (ibid.) that this does not follow the letter of the law and is merely a stringency greatly emphasized by the holy Zohar. Indeed, the Sefer Emek Ha’Melech (authored by Hagaon Harav Naftali of Frankfurt, a disciple of the great Rabbeinu Menachem Azarya of Pano, who lived approximately three hundred and fifty years ago) writes that a women who walks around her house with her hair uncovered causes great evil to her home, for this causes the attribute of justice to take hold of the home. He writes other things as well based on the teachings of the Mekubalim.

Summary: According to the letter of the law, a woman need not walk around her own home with her hair covered. Some Acharonim write that it is a pious custom for a woman to cover her hair at home as well, especially when the other family members are present, for this is the proper and modest behavior. A woman who acts this way is especially praiseworthy and causes much Heavenly abundance to be showered on her home.

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