Rabbi Says Long Wigs Are Not Proper Head Coverings

Shturem

The Rabbi of Kfar Chabad, Rabbi Mordechai Shmuel Ashkenazi, released a letter in which he warns of the ‘long wig’ phenomenon. In the letter, which was addressed to hanhalah of Beis Rivkah in Kfar, he warns that long wigs are not proper hair coverings.

Opening his letter Rabbi Ashkenazi says that he is coming to warn against a ‘growing breach’ in the fashion with which woman have been covering their hair.

Rabbis Ashkenazi writes that “Rabonim, and chiefly the Rebbe, preferred that women cover their hair with a wig and not with a tichel since the wig will cover the entire head along with the hair on the sides.” Adding that its obvious that this should be noticed as a ‘foreign’ covering and not like natural hair.

In his letter he says that “long and wild wigs, even more so when they are made of real hair whose propose is to look like real and natural hair, cannot be considered as a proper hair coverings by a wig.”

In his letter he asked the hanhalah to only allow wigs that fall till the shoulders and not any longer.

ashkenazi-wig-letter-2

72 Comments

  • 2. lady wrote:

    Be careful, those are dangerous words that can have a terrible outcome. Know what battles to fight.

  • 3. WIGGER wrote:

    I believe that one of the original arguments for sheitels was for their attractiveness; not exactly the opposite of the above Rav’s reason, but it does seem to support the use of realistic wigs.

  • 4. Reasonable Fatwa wrote:

    This is very reasonable. Others should follow in his foot steps. Shorter synthetic wigs are for sure going to cost less.

  • 6. Wonderful! wrote:

    sorry Rav Ashkenazi is not only Rabbi, he is a posken, proper respect should apply. Rav.

  • 7. BCH wrote:

    “2. It is understood that it is so only if the wig makes it obvious that it is a covering and not [the woman’s] natural hair.”

    From which words of the Rebbe is it this “obvious”, pray tell? Where does is say that the object is not only have the woman’s own hair fully covered, but that the outside observer may be able to discern that as well? How long should that ‘examination’ take? At first glance? 10-15 seconds of uninterrupted staring under normal daylight conditions?

    It is so sad to see respected talmidei chachomim make a mockery of themselves in public in such a way…

  • 8. hmmm wrote:

    “in a letter to… beth rivkah…”
    since when do girls in beis rivkah wear wigs??

  • 9. Man wrote:

    Why does this rabbi not support his words with at least ONE source? Is this his opinion? Is this how Halochoh is decided? His wide-sweeping statement sounds extremely radical.

  • 11. wife and mother wrote:

    this sounds pretty crazy!!!!! wasnt the rebbe all for women having nice wigs?!?!?!!!!!
    i understand that if it is too long its not modest but why is that considered not coverying rigjt???? coverd iscoverd!!!!!

  • 12. Vote For Gimmel wrote:

    Didn’t he say that Lubavitchers should vote for Agudah in the election?
    So why did most of Kfar Chabad not listen?

  • 13. meir wrote:

    the reason for shietlach is to cover ervah…not to look unattractive…personally for us men the shorter the cheaper it costs…but just wanted to point out the chabad reason according the tzemach tzedek ect…
    i guess rav ashlenazis wife had a fallout with the local kfar chabads sheitel machers…lol

  • 14. Just Sayin wrote:

    Another yeneh g’zeirah. What’s next? May as well start eating pork… seems we’re all going to hell anyway.

  • 16. pathetic wrote:

    when you decry pedophilia and lack of education in the community then maybe ill care what you have to say.

  • 19. to #8 wrote:

    bais rivka is the name for the 4 yr long sem/college equivilant is kfar chabad as well as the high school i believe. so it includes high school, girls looking into shidduchim, kallahs, and married women as well.

  • 20. hmmmm wrote:

    I can see how this issue is way more important than the epidemic of sexual abuse that is plaguing Chabad. Interesting…

  • 21. see Sefer Kol Kvuda wrote:

    In sefer Kol Kvuda Bas Melech written by Rabbi Moshe Weiner and available in english he brings up exactly this issue.

    He also has a clear and decisive answer from the Rebbe. Question was can a woman wear a sheitel which looks like real hair? The Rebbe answered yes she can and the reason the Rebbe gave was that in the end it is still not her hair.

    It is a kiddush Hashem for a frum woman to look good. (But still IMHO some of the wedding dresses that show every curve is not so tzniusdik and should not be worn by chassidishe ladies).

    • 22. NOT Exactly This Issue wrote:

      What does a question about wearing a sheitel which looks like real hair, have to do with the issue here of wearing a long sheitel? Rabbi Weiner himself just told me that the Rebbe was not referring to long sheitels when he said it is allowed. Rav Ashkenazi is only referring to provocative sheitels (be they long or wild, and especially if they are ALSO natural). What does need to be researched is how long is really considered provocative, and therefore not Tzniusdik, invalidating it as a proper head covering.

  • 23. Thank you! wrote:

    thank you rabbi for issuing a letter that focuses on the well being of chassidim and helping them with parnasah and other help which they need!

    I did not read the letter but I figured a rov would obviously only be writing letters which help the plight of yidden, it is forsure not some ridiculous letter which not a single lady will listen to..

  • 24. Andrea Schonberger wrote:

    I’ve always thought that a wig is a wig so long as the hair is covered though I think a tichel is more practicle for the house and housework but I’m the first one to admit that I’m not a rabbinical scholar. However if we are going this route then lets take up the situation of men whose clothing is far too loose. I’ve seen many situations where Chasidic men are constantly pulling up their trousers and/or tucking in their shirts. Is this modest when you put yourself in a position where your trousers could fall down at any moment in full view of the public? Spare us ladies please and wear the correct size of clothing, not too tight and definitely not too loose.

  • 25. bob wrote:

    This is so incredibly pathetic and offensive. As it is there are many women who have a very hard time covering their hair and the fact that Lubavitch is so militant in its push towards Shaitels is bad enough and has no basis in Halacha and is based on the Rebbe’s preference. I would also point out that the Rebbe never discriminated against a married woman who did not wear a Shaitel or g-d forbid didn’t cover her hair at all. If you would like proof of the way that the Rebbe treated people it is easy to reference video footage of the Rebbe interacting with Women of all walks of life while giving dollars and Brochas. The Rebbe was a consummate Mentch and always respectful and kind as opposed to the Tznius Fascism found in Crown Heights on the street and in the mosdos to the extent that the Rebbe would be embarrassed to see the general condescension of bitter zealots who use anecdotal soundbites to further their own out of touch agenda all in the name of the Rebbe or Halacha. This is the kind of out of touch and cruel pronouncement and attitude that turn our youth away from what should be beautiful, loving, accepting and holy because it has been made into something loathsome, miserable and petty. Rabbonim and Mechanchim, if they can even be called that, are scrambling because everyone knows that the REAL cause of “tznius epidemics” and kids frying out is poor education and a general inability to show the incredible beauty and joy that can be derived from our way of life. This is something that Lubavitch and Chassidim have known since the Baal Shem-tov. It is the reason that the Rebbe focused so much on Asei Tov instead of Sur Mei Raa. His-hapcha instead of Hiskafiya. We don’t need to evolve or change with the times in order to be able to appeal to the next generation but rather revert back to the premise of Chassidus. Back to serving Hashem with joy and love and having true Ahavas Yisroel towards one another. Before you call me a Kumbaya hippie pick up a Tanya. IT’S ON THE FIRST PAGE! It’s the way the Rebbe lived his life and treated people, by example NOT by totalitarian proclamation. This is the reason that this proclamation will be ridiculed and generally ignored like most before it and most after it. Is nothing learned from the death of Rabbi Akiva’s Students.

    The most disappointing thing is that there are so many issue that do need to be addressed in Lubavich like poverty, corruption, Mishichist machloikes, abuse and drugs, so when a Rov addresses the length or style of a Shaitel it more than offends. It’s bad enough that real issues are never being acknowledged, let alone fixed, but for Rabonim to use the Bully pulpit to address the style and length of a Shaitel or invisible bugs in the water or thickness of tights it’s infuriating. For a group of people so consumed by Tznius infractions they sure spend a lot of time worrying about other men’s wives clothing and undergarments.

    It’s time for our communities to demand some accountability from our institutions and our supposed leaders. Enough is enough.

    • 27. HaTaniya wrote:

      Hiskafiya is our name –
      unless you’re tzadik – See Taniya 23-24 Shvat – at length – appropriate after the yortzait.
      “The Rebbe was a consummate Mentch”
      G-d have mercy of on the soul – see
      consummate – definition :(

    • 28. Bob wrote:

      Regarding Hiskafya vs. Hishapcha: As the Rebbe said, “It’s Chassidism not Asceticism”.

      Definition:
      2.perfect and complete in every respect; having all necessary qualities”a complete gentleman” “consummate happiness” “a consummate performance”

      3.having or revealing supreme mastery or skill”a consummate artist” “consummate skill” “a masterful speaker” “masterful technique” “a masterly performance of the sonata” “a virtuoso performance”

  • 29. The Makor wrote:

    when a rabbi writes what his wife (meshichista)
    tells him to write
    halacha has nothing to do with the letter.

  • 30. Keep it positive wrote:

    When we get so strict that everything nice, pleasant, attractive and fun becomes asur, then young people don’t want to have anything to do with religion. “Ayn Hakadosh Baruch Hu bah b’trunya im briyosav”– Hashem does not behave in a burdensome way with his creations. Making everything negative is the total opposite of a Chassidishe approach. When our young women feel that being tzniyusdik can be beautiful, they are motivated to cover their hair, dress modestly. As a matter of fact, I kno many young women who are not as frum as they were raised to be but the one thing they do is wear a shaitel because the shaitels that are available nowadays are so beautiful. Do we want to take this away too?

  • 31. To 8 wrote:

    Um…
    A) it’s to the hanhalo of Beis Rivka
    B) it’s to Beis Eivka Kfar Chabad, which includes a 4 year seminary full of married women.

  • 32. Stop while you are behind wrote:

    With the prevalence of women challenged to wear a shaitel rather than a tichel (in public), I think the Rabbi has taken up the wrong battle. As noted by others here already, the rabbi ought to put up and show a source or find a better matter to press.

  • 33. zalman wrote:

    if rabbi braun comes out with a letter that sheitlach in any form is al pi harohas harebbe…he just hit a grand slam….what he couldnt do in a years + work will accomplish in 2 minutes….

  • 34. The idea of wigs is stupid wrote:

    Why on earth is everyone obsessed with wigs and covering all your hair? You can be strictly orthodox and not cover your hair

  • 36. yose wrote:

    Why has this been posted here? I thought the “women” in CH have given up on sheitals already?

    They’re not cool and don’t match the bug-a-boo..

  • 37. Zehava wrote:

    It is not tzinius to wear a very long shaitel. It was always self understood.we have lost our sensitivity,”es past nisht”. No further explanation necessary.

  • 38. Moishe wrote:

    Why is it that when it comes to religioun everybody becomes an expert we have to decide once and for all are we lubavitchers chassidim of the rebbe or modern orthodox . True the rebbe pushed shiatlach but does that give an excuse to look like a call girl . You can’t dance on two weddings at once or to g-d or to the Baal

  • 40. Thinkster wrote:

    Clearly this guy is oiver batel. Not only can such a comment not be taken seriously, it makes a mockery of Orthodox Judaism.

  • 41. Knowledge Kills wrote:

    Look at Rabbi Wolpe’s sefer Leket Shikchas Hapea. The concept is an old one. You haters are all simply ignorant pooyerim.

  • 42. I was gonna get a sheitel wrote:

    I figured it was time to start covering my hair. I was gonna get a sheitel. I thought that would be the “right: thing to do. Now I won’t. WHy spend a couple of thousand bucks on a wig that is forbidden when I can wear my hair uncovered which is equally forbidden?!

    Freeda wigs are long and natural human hair – does this rabbi think they are forbidden ??? This is sooo CONFUSING!!!

    • 43. #37 get that sheitel anyway wrote:

      My dear sister, You wrote that she now sees no point in getting a sheitel to cover her hair. Listen, there will always be rabbis who issue stringency upon stringencies, but it isn’t an “all or nothing”! There are many levels of ztnius but if you don’t fully comply with the highest standard is the alternative to go naked?! I don’t know if this rov is right or wrong – let others decide. I don’t know if his ruling is for local consumption or for global Jewry, but I do know that we need to try our best and if you were going to start covering your hair – then do so, IN SPITE of this rabbi, because it is good for YOU! Go for it girl!!

      February 4, 2013 8:29 pm

  • 44. Was in school in Kfar Bais 37 years ago wrote:

    ATT RABBI ASHKENAZI, I challenge your Psak!!!(unless woman have no halachic ability to challange )

    I Was in Bais Rivka kfar chabad Bais, 37 years ago Seminary, and loose hair to the Shoulder was Not acceptable.,It was refered to as (Saar Pazur). I came from Bais Rivkah in N.Y. and Never even heard of the concept of loose hair!! If this is a halacha, how did shoulder legnth loose hair become acceptable Now,?? and how come in Bais Rivkah, under the Rebbes guidance, it was Never an issue (I know you are talking about a shaitel, but you probably mean hair legnth doesn’t matter shaitel or hair)

  • 45. anon wrote:

    oy vey……..I’m more confused now than when I read the story……I wear a sheitel. longish, to my shoulders. Do I now have to get it trimmed? These human hair sheitels are very, very expensive…..please, someone just give me halacha.

    thank you very much….

  • 46. Baales Tshuva wrote:

    While most women in Kfar Chabad are completely frun all their lives, this Rabbi’s rulling may make sense for that community. However, women who are getting into Yiddishkeit have a lot of trouble with the idea of covering their heads. The idea that one can’t even wear nice long sheitle will turn off many of these women. A rav can speak for his own community – and each rav must take into consideration the people he is dealing with.

  • 48. Zalman Moshe wrote:

    Rabbi Ashkenazi is a Daas Yochid on this matter, and he cites no source for his ruling. Every other rabbi would tell you that any sheitel, as nice, as long as fancy, as sexy as it might be is still considered hair covering. He can talk about the spirit of modesty, similair to woman wearing bright colored clothes, but it is considered covering the hair.

  • 49. Mendy Sheitler wrote:

    This Rabbi is obviously not the brightest bulb around. If the hair is covered, then it is covered. Nothing wrong with a woman looking good.

  • 50. Rivky wrote:

    let the rav wear a shaitel for an hour he will see and feel whats its like….we woman wear it because its our mitzvah….let woman feel good about themselves about doing a mitzvah and feeling good about it….i feel hurt and humiliated from this rav…..i understand hes a rav in a little town in israel…the rav is insensitive….and lacks understanding…

  • 51. mendelbaum wrote:

    why the excitement, this rav is a rav in a small village in israel…he obviously doesnt understand the mentality out of that village….ladies enjoy your sheitlach please……i know i wouldnt wear that thing….woops did i really say that!

  • 52. Rivka wrote:

    I think the American mindset cannot understand a psak that was not made for them with them in mind. Saar pazur has a long history in psak. As good looking as you want? The problem is that in the US girls have levels of halacha learning where understanding clallei psika is somewhere between unnecessay and asur. A reason why my rav said the biggest halachic michshol is books of “Kitzurei Dinim” l’Nashim “. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. There is only one thing not consistant with Lubavitch psak – calling a sheitel a heter and calling into question its efficacy as a haircovering if it is not tznius in style.Arguments against sheitels are totally out of Lubavitch. Why the “righteous anger” over the universally held mitzva of long sheitels? Abuse? Kids OTD? Of course because over emphasis on goyishe fashion and parents disrespecting rabbonim teally help their yiras shamayim.

  • 53. Mier wrote:

    The pesak is only for women who want to listen those people who don’t dress tzinyusdik to them it makes no diffrence so what’s the huff

  • 56. Hashgacha pratis wrote:

    It is tremendous hashgacha pratis that this letter was written during the kinus hashluchos. Check out the pictures and see how many long flowing shaitels can be seen in the crowd. I have met many mekuravim who are confused by the contradictions in tznius that they see in the shlichus and all that they are learning regarding the halachos of tznius. The head shlucha in my community dresses in a less “sensitive” manner than many of the Lubavitcher women do. I think that they should begin to look within and be more sensitive to tznius issues and maybe others will follow suite to these “role models”.

  • 57. DaasTorah wrote:

    Let’s just keep in mind that the whole purpose of a woman covering her hair after marriage was to publicly say, “I am married, don’t pursue me.” These days that is accomplished by her wearing a wedding band. One might ask why there is any necessity for a woman to cover her hair.

  • 58. Raanan wrote:

    Why even wear a wig? why not just wear a head covering? This is not a case of looking attractive or unattractive, but of maintaining a sense of modesty. In many cases, women wearing long wigs stand out more in a crowd of goyyische women without wigs to the point I can identify all of the Jewish women as easily as one can identify all Jewish men wearing kippot on their heads.

    However, discuss his verdict with open minds, do not speak to harshly, do not belittle our brethen and leaders, and together we may heal this undoing world.

  • 59. Der Tabak wrote:

    Oy Der Tabak
    somone changed the snuff
    the rabbi was high on something
    evrything back to normal now
    enjoy your shaitlach.
    soon there will be Hcksher on shaitlach
    didnt you get the drill

  • 60. Careful wrote:

    The fine line between orthodox judiasm and the taliban is slowly getting narrower.

  • 61. Actually... wrote:

    It’s quite clear from Yorea Deah, that long,wavy, unconstrained hair is a problem – whether or not it’s a single girl or a shaitle on a married women.

    The issue here seems to be everyone one this site believes in themselves &/or everyone else that it’s irrelevant what Shulchan Aruch & the Rabbonim say! All that matters is ME!!!

  • 62. All 4 wigs wrote:

    I remember this. The Rebbe asked a couple if the wife was wearing a sheitel. They answered that this is outdated and not pretty. The Rebbe answered that “now you have sheitels that look even better than the real hair” as an argument for the wife to wear it.
    VeD”L

  • 63. Fault wrote:

    It’s hard enough for us to cover our (long) hair after we get married. If I didn’t have a long beautiful wig to have I don’t think I would cover my hair. Where’s the sensitivity Rabbi? So much focus on the negativity. Hashem just wants us to cover our hair and only allow our husbands to see our hair. I believe the real issue is that some men have big yetzer horas, and have a hard time with any attractive female!

  • 65. Avrohom Becker wrote:

    I suppose that I could understand the ruling against longer wigs,but why the ruling against natural hair? This generation requires a balance between the whole and the individual. Having said that however,I’m not sure that so much emphasis should be put on wigs,when there are more pressing issues to be dealt with. First deal with the source and root causes which cause a lack of Tznius in the first place,such as a lack of showing the beauty and individuality of being Tznius,and a lack of acceptance,before you start talking about the length of people’s wigs.

    • 66. No Ruling against natural hair wrote:

      The Rabbi is only referring to long or wild sheitels which are not Tzniusdik, therefore not valid. Being also natural and not Tzniusdik just makes it worse.
      This is not a new issue, as 10 years ago, every Frum Bais Din in Israel ruled the same way.

  • 67. Anonymous wrote:

    What about unmarried women,or young girls who might need or want to wear a wig because of medical problems-ie cancer treatment,alopecia?One of my daughters lost about half of her hair when she was 11 due to alopecia. People were actually offering to buy her a wig,they felt so bad. But B”H her hair grew back with treatments.Any thoughts on this?

  • 68. Shaina wigs wrote:

    The main idea is to have a “Shaina” sheitel one that you will want to wear to do the mitzvah.

    if its a long Shaina shaitel so be it.

    we manage to get caught up on such empty subjects.

    lets worry about the ones that are not covering their hair not the ones that choose to do it in a way that makes them feel like a lady.

    Thank you to Shaina wigs for making the long wigs available and affordable to all of us woman . who want to feel like a Lady.

  • 69. The good rabbi is being dishonest wrote:

    This is the exact opposite of what the Rebbe said when he began his shetel campaign in the 1950s. One of the main reasons that the Rebbe preferred sheitls over hats or kerchiefs (aside from the halachic reason that they cover the hair more completely) is that women will feel better about themselves in a wig, feel that they are more beautiful and attractive than with other types of head coverings, not feel out of place and marginalized in society, and be more inclined to cover their hair. To the Rebbe, this was the most important thing–that more married women should start covering their hair–not what the other supposedly “more frum” communities will think of Lubavitch.
    Rabbi Ashkenazi knows this. He might be clueless and insensitive, but he knows what it says in the Rebbe’s sichos and letters of the time. But he’s not honest enough to say, “Look, this is what the Rebbe said 60 years ago, when very few women, even in Lubavitch, covered their hair. Today our priorities are different. I think Lubavitch should become more like the chareidim here in Israel, and adopt their norms. So it’s time to make some new rules…” He knows that won’t fly with everyone. So instead he does what everyone else in Lubavitch does when they express their own (or their wife’s) opinion – he claims that that what the Rebbe would say…
    The sad thing is that that the end result of all cozying up to the chareidi world will be that more and more of our children will opt out of frumkeit entirely. We’re already seeing the effect of the tznius facism in our mosdos. More and more won’t wear sheitels – or any other head covering for that matter. Everything the Rebbe worked so hard for is being undone by a few old hags and farbissineh kano’im…

    • 70. To 69 wrote:

      Another reason to wear a sheitel was, once it is on, it’s difficult to take off publicly, contrary to a scarf or snood.

  • 71. My two cents wrote:

    There are two very important things about law. First, what the letter of the law says. Second, what the law is intending to deal with at the core.

    That said, and what the Rabbi probably cannot say is, some of these wigs make older women look much younger. And, sometimes, it also changes the way they act.

    For most women, these wigs make them look much better than they would naturally. And, sometimes when some women put them on, they also put on an attitude and demeanor that is sometimes immodest and unbecoming.

    On the flip side, the available head coverings seem to make women feel unattractive which also shows in the demeanor at times.

    So, the question, I guess, is….what really make a woman modest?

    If the rabbi could provide such a explanation to accompany such a letter, it would be most helpful. Obviously, modesty is much more than hemlines and wigs!

    p.s., the wigs seem to make them all look alike anyways!

  • 72. dovid wrote:

    Some of the comments are very disrespectful. A respected Rabbi has the courage to address an important issue that most have been afraid to touch.

    People are entitled to question in a respectful manner, as our religion is based on constant questioning in order to arrive at the truth. However, the questions should be based on halacha, and strving for the truth, not offensive personal comments that have been posted here.

    The truth is that we have allowed the long immodest wigs to be in our community for too long and women have become used to wearing them, and the husbands enjoy their wives looking like non jewish models.

    If the women’s motive is pure and the wig is only for her husband’s eyes then wear these wigs inside the privacy of your home. And if the husband’s motives are pure he would only want her to wear it at home as well.

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