That’s a Wrap
As we close out another Shabbat, I spent part of the last twenty-five hours marveling in the mitzvah of head covering. Thanks to the wonderful women at Wrapunzel, I received some gorgeous fabrics and accessories to wrap myself in at a great price!
You may be wondering… why do many observant Jewish women cover their hair?
I wondered that myself!
Married women cover their hair as an act of modesty. Covering one’s hair says to the public: I am married, my hair is for only my husband to see. Therefore, many married women wear a sheitel (wig) or a tichel (headscarf) when they are in public or out of the house.
But wait, I’ve seen some Jewish women wear gorgeous, elaborate wigs, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of modesty–if the wigs are more attractive than their natural hair?
Ah…you’re confusing modesty with beauty. Don’t worry, I did the same thing. The mitzvah of head covering is not meant to be unattractive, it’s to be modest. Just as we don’t walk around naked for the sake of modesty, most people don’t intentionally walk around in unattractive clothes. In the same way, why should a woman covering her hair confine herself to unattractive head coverings? The point of the mitzvah is to cover an intimate part of one’s self in respect to the covenant of marriage, which reflects our covenant with G-d.
I think head covering is sexist, why don’t men have to cover themselves?
They do! You’ll notice many observant men wear a kippah or a hat; they are usually well dressed.
Well, Holly, you’re not Jewish yet, so why are you covering your hair?
Good question, I’m glad you asked! I cover my hair because it marks a very important transition that I’m making. To convert to Judaism is no easy undertaking. It requires a lot of study, discipline and patience (not to mention questions and comments from family and friends who disagree with my decision to convert.)
Wrapping my hair or covering my head reminds me everyday that I’m working towards something amazing; that a new expectation of living a holy life will be expected of me. It also symbolizes my entrance into a new culture, that I’ll be leaving my days of wearing tank tops and shorts behind. Many observant women are not only expected to cover their hair, but to also wear modest clothing that covers their upper arms and much of their legs. And the woman pictured in the image above? Her shirt line is a little too low. But modest dress does not mean unfashionable dress. There are many clothing companies devoted to making beautiful modest wear.
It’s important to note that many women besides married Jewish women wrap or cover their hair, including Muslim women, some denominations of Christian women, women who are experiencing hair thinning or hair loss, and some people simply enjoy the beauty of wrapping!
I’ve learned that you can ask a dozen Jewish married women why they cover their hair, and you may receive a dozen different answers. Ask a couple of rabbis, and you may get some different opinions as well.
What I’ve written above reflects my own experience with covering, along with what I’ve heard from Jewish women and fellow converts. Every person’s wrapping experience is unique; that’s part of the beauty of the mitzvah.
And with that said, this post is a wrap.