Sunday, April 13, 2008

Why I cover my hair

A question from a reader: "I wonder why you wear a head covering now that you are married? Is it a Jewish tradition or is it for religious reasons?"

I thought this might be asked, and I can say that it is for both reasons you've mentioned - the Jewish religion commands a married woman to cover her hair, plus it's a beautiful tradition; I must add, though, that nowadays it isn't always strictly observed in Jewish communities. Some married women cover their hair only partially, and some only cover their hair in synagogue.

In Biblical times, women covered their hair as a sign of modesty and chastity, and the unveiling and loosening of a woman's hair was used as a sign of humiliation, in cases when a woman was suspected of adultery. (Numbers 5, 11-28)

Since I've become observant, it was always obvious to me that I'm going to cover my hair when I'm married, out of modesty and as a sign of being married; in the weeks prior to our wedding, though, I received various comments such as, "there's no way you are going to manage with a long hair such as yours"; "if you intend to cover all your hair, you must cut off at least half of it"; "you are going to see that head coverings will make you feel extremely hot and uncomfortable"; and even "you are going to look so much worse without your pretty hair showing".

Well, I must say, none of these glum predictions are true! Like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, it's actually pretty simple: I just roll my hair up in a bun and tie a head scarf around it. Those who first see me now can't even guess how long my hair actually is. It's sleek and not very thick, so I can manage it easily. Putting on a hair covering doesn't take much time, either. In fact, if I'm in a hurry and don't have time to brush my hair in the morning, it actually saves me time!

Also, keeping my hair up leaves my neck open, which means I feel less, not more hot than I normally did when I wore my hair down. And I don't think I look that bad with my hair covered - in fact, my husband says he loves the way I look wearing a head scarf, and that's what matters. Of course a woman's hair is pretty and beautiful - which is why I uncover mine in front of no man but my beloved husband, as a sign of my belonging to him, and him alone, now that we are married.

For more on why Jewish women cover their hair, read here and here.

PS: In some strict Orthodox Jewish communities, it is common for women to wear sheitls (wigs). There is a certain debate around this issue; some rabbis say wigs are the best option for hair covering, because they make it easier to cover all of the woman's hair than, let's say, a hat or head scarf, which usually leaves at least a few hairs sticking out here and there. Others say it's better to wear a hat or head scarf, because then it's easier to see right away that the woman is married. Strictly speaking, according to Jewish Law, we are only commanded to cover our hair and it isn't specified how - so both options are valid. Personally I choose head scarves. I do love being "marked" as a married woman, but there are also the considerations of style, price (wigs are awfully expensive) and convenience (I think a head scarf made of a light, breathing material is optimal in the summer heat).

38 comments:

Emily (Unfurling Flower) said...

Very interesting Anna, thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

Sammybunny said...

I think that It's a beautiful tradition! Good for you gusy for adhering to such a lovely belief!

Anonymous said...

Anna,

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question and in such a kind fashion. This topic is a big fight on other blogs and I am just honestly trying to find my way because I have recently begun to live my faith instead of just claim to have faith (coinciding with the births of my two daughters) and I am realizing several things.

First, I am horrified when some people claim to be Christians. I saw one of those mega churches on television and the pastor was claiming some celebrities were members and I was so offended. I mean, these same celebrities were completly foul mouthed and here he was so proud of claiming them. I am having the same reaction to people who live certain ways and then announce to everyone they are Christian. It is like being a lady or being powerful, if you have to TELL everyone you are a Christian, YOU ARENT!

Second, I am fast leaving the thinking that "I can be cool and totally in the world and be a Christian" as this will draw people to Christ because they will see they don't have to give up the fun stuff. This is ridiculous! The point is to be different and I think that this is why so many have such a lack of respect for Christians, many who claim to be Christ's SHAME HIM!

The reason I bring this up is I was encouraged to NOT dress modestly by my parents, to go by "if you got it flaunt it" and it always bothered me.

I would do it and get attention but want to cover up. So many women and LITTLE GIRLS are made targets by perverts because of the way they are dressed and because they are not escorted by the Father or Husband.

It has really convicted me. We have decided to dress our girls modestly.

I also feel so much better dressed modestly. I am treated better by strangers and respected. The Woman who complain men look at their chest when they talk to them should button UP!

As for my question, I also read more of the Bible and saw that Jesus said if you love me you will OBEY my commands. So I had to apologize to my Husband and submit. Guess what brought this on? My children would not obey me! Wow, I realize now my Husband has had a rebellious 2 year old on his hand for years and just as I can't tend to all the Lord has for my when my Children are out of control, my Husband cannot be all the Lord wants him to when his Wife is out of control. Wives always think this shows great strength, but everyone thinks you are just nasty and low class.

So, basically I was reading the verses about covering and I asked around and some big fights erupted. It seems to me like Paul is talking about covering in Church. I am still confused because he says for a man to pray while covered is bad, yet Jewish men do.

I want to cover, my Husband doesn't want me to so I can't. I don't know if he doesn't want me to so much as he is afraid of what it will look like (he is still a new Christian) and thinks I might look amish. I showed him the verses and he said it was ridiculous that God would love me even if I didn't cover. I told him I knew that, it was to show respect to him and to God. Like wearing a wedding ring.

I am trying to pray about this. Sorry I have taken so much space up here. I saw you covering and you looked so joyful. I think modesty is wonderful, that you are so precious and wonderful that your Husband wants to keep the best for himself. That is Beautiful.

It is wonderful to me that someone can tell you are a Woman of faith just by looking at you. I want that for me and my family.

I admit, I didn't want it not long ago because I didn't want people to judge my actions and say, wow is that how a Christian acts. I wanted to be anonymous.

Anyway, I guess I will just have to keep praying for wisdom because I want to model things right for our daughters. Thank you, though I have been married a long time, you are teaching me.

Many Blessings :)
Carrie

jane said...

Well Anna, I believe you to be beautiful in your headscarf. It touches my heart that you save your let-down tresses for your beloved husband. Bless you dearly.

Hil The Thrill said...

Hi Anna,
Thankyou for teaching me something new. I am in the US, and I see jewish women who wear wigs. Can you explain to me what that is about?
Best wishes,
Hil

Mrs. Anna T said...

Hill - I wrote a little update to the post, about wigs.

Michelle Potter said...

Anna, I think it's wonderful that you cover your hair. As mentioned, there is some confusion among Christians as to whether we are supposed to cover our hair our not, and if so, when. Sometimes "freedom" is nice, and sometimes it's confusing. ;)

But since it is clear to Jews that married women should cover, it only makes sense that you should. Frankly, I'd be confused if you didn't! ;)

Patty said...

Greetings Anna,

So nice to get the tradition behind head coverings. As a Christian, I also practice head coverings according to I Cor 11:1-16. I began before I was married, as a sign of submission to my father, then to my husband. I have varied what I wore to 'fit in' with the churches I have been with. I did not want my style of head covering to draw attention to myself needlessly. The whole point was to NOT draw attention to myself, but be modest. (Funny--I received more attention from single men with a head covering than without.)
Now I see it as a useful sign and reminder to submit to my husband. I don't think God is up there 'giving points' for wearing one, or earning His love this way. I live in a very feministic society that does not value submission, and I am also of the same frame as Eve (who did not want to submit) so I need all the help I can get.
On Sunday, when I put on my hat, I have to deal with my attitude to my husband. I can't just pretend I am honoring him when I am inwardly complaining about him.
Both of our faiths have signs and symbols. I think they help make His truth physical so we can't hide from it. We can get superstitious or legalistic about it, but we don't through out the sign, we throw out our wrong attitudes.
Enjoy your pretty scarves, and your daily reminder to conform yourself to your wonderful husband!

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is if covering your hair is reserving it for your husband because it is an intimate part of you (general sense not you specifically) why wear a wig that looks like hair? to me that is like dressing "modestly" by wearing clothes that look like you are showing cleavage or other body parts it just seems like a contradiction

Steve and Paula said...

Thank you Anna, for standing up and practicing the Biblical role of a woman.
In doing so, you will prick the hearts of others, and hopefully cause them to take a hard look at their own selves.

Carrie, I am so sorry for the way you have been treated.
I would love to correspond with you.
If you see this, just click on my name blogger name, and see if that would be something you would be interested in.
Paula, in Alaska

Lauren Christine said...

Hallo Anna :)

I think you look perfectly lovely with your scarves! It's feminine and so pretty. I just hate hearing the "I'm too hot" argument... it seems like people make such awful clothing choices in the name of temperature. I'm in south Texas, and I can tell you this- I'm much cooler in a long flowing skirt and loose fitting shirt even when it's long sleeved. And even if its hot, thats no reason to not follow God's Word! :) Hmph! :)
I cover my hair for church and think its wonderful to show respect and deference for the Lord and your husband in that way.

blessings,
Lauren Christine

Jaybird said...

What a beautiful way to show your submission to the Lord and your respect for your husband. :)

His Wife and Their Mommy said...

I applaud you. and I am glad I found your blog. i greatly enjoy reading your posts. feel free to read mine when you have ti me.

Shannon said...

Hi Anna,

I think it is wonderful that you are covering your hair. I do not see why people would find a scarf difficult to wear. It definately would save time on hairstyling!

Congratulations on your recent marriage and I wish you many blessings and joy!

Jessica Denise said...

I never realized that was a part of Jewish Law, but it's such an interesting thing. I like it. It makes even something as normal as hair very special. :-)

Catherine R. said...

Hi Anna, while we're on the subject of beauty, do you were cosmetics? If so, is it a regular thing or only occasional? Do you have an opinion on cosmetics?

Courtney said...

Hi anna - Is a Jewish woman wearing a head covering along the same lines as Muslim/Israeli women?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting about this, Anna. I know there were probably many who had questions about hair coverings.

A word to Carrie: though her husband doesn't want her to cover her hair, there are other ways she could show the modesty & purity of her heart. If her skirts are short, she could gradually buy longer ones, tops that don't dip so far in front could gradually replace those that are cleavage-baring. I do believe it will be mostly about her heart. The way she dresses will be an outward sign of this. But if her husband is resistant to hair covering, she should probably wait a bit....her husband may think he's got an anarchist on his hands if she goes so completely against what he is accustomed to! I would say, give him time to appreciate the "new you".

Brenda

Kimber said...

Well, I am glad to have an explanation for the reason some Jewish women are always wearing wigs! I am trying to be open minded, but there is something in the idea that you should cover your own hair, but then these people chose to do it with "hair" so that it doesn't really look like they are covering~ well, it just confuses me a little bit and I'm not exactly sure why. I think it seems a little bit hypocritical somehow. It is sort of following the letter of the law legalistically without really appearing to. Did that make sense? I hope I didn't offend anyone by that. I would never think they should "not" do as they feel they are led. I just try to respect those choices, but am finding it rather humorous in a way that wig wearing somehow has become a "covering." Still, I don't think it is my personal business what they chose to do.

I have friends who use head coverings and know it can be a point of great contention between some people on both sides of the issue who disagree about it. Since this is not an area to me that is of "salvation," I don't know why people want to be so bitterly fighting about it. To me the fighting is worse than whether someone covers or someone else does not! I feel if a friend wants to cover, then good for her. It really is not "my" business. If another couple decides that the wife will not cover, then that is their business and still not mine.

I greatly respect the meaning of it and love that it makes a woman's hair that much more special to the husband. My own husband doesn't care to have me cover my hair. That decides the issue for us. If he changes his mind, I'll use coverings.

Thanks for your very simple explanations. I think it is lovely that you are being so respectful to your husband this way Anna. Please don't cut your hair!!! My hair is so much shorter now that I am older. I cut it to just below my shoulders after I was ill and most of it fell out about 3 years ago. I have only perhaps 1/3 of the hair I used to, however, my husband has asked me to let it grow longer again, so I will. There is something just so sweet and also ahem...."intimate" about taking our hair down for our man and then having him delight in it.

LisaM said...

I am so glad to see that you wrote this article. I've read your blog entries off and on for quite a while and have always been impressed with your devotion and "femininity" (if I can use that word). :) Thank you for your honesty and clear explanation of your understanding in this matter.

Kittee said...

Very lovely post. I am just coming to terms with my desires to live a simpler more modest life. Thusly I am making slow gradual changes and while I do not "cover" my hair, I have chosen not to cut it. There are some that believe that when the Lord speaks about a womans hair being covered that it could actually mean length of hair not an actual covering. (I hope that makes sense.) How do you feel about that particular philosophy Anna?

Blessings to you,
-Kittee

singlemomforgod said...

Anna-

Your post was so lovely. Thank you for standing your ground on your beliefs. I have similar questions that I posted about when I address the issue of my not wearing a ring. you can check it out if you ever have time. Also, your back yard veiw is just breathtaking!!!

Jan Hatchett said...

Anna:
I am so glad that you kept your lovely hair and that you have found a covering that makes you feel comfortable and confident. I wear wigs due to a medical hair loss, and although I am grateful to have my wigs, I think having options is a wonderful thing!

Autumn said...

That is very interesting. I just always took the Bible to mean that our fathers our husbands were our head coverings, but some people that attend our church believe otherwise, even if they are unmarried.

Mia said...

Anna,
I think it's a beautiful tradition, and I'm very proud of you for keeping it. I have long thought about covering (I'm a Christian), but I'm ashamed to say that I have not the courage to do so at this moment. I do try to dress with modesty and femininity, however. You are an inspiration to me.
Blessings,
Mia

Kelly said...

I think you look beautiful in your head scarf Anna.
And it's kind of romantic in a way to think that only your husband gets to see your hair.
I though that, over a hundred years ago, even in Christian denominations women once married covered their hair when they went out. Which explains why hats used to be so popular. I can even remember as a chld going to my dad's church, Catholic, that women still covered their hair with hats or lace veils in church.
Kind of a shame that that tradition, in the Christian, church is gone. I get such stange looks when I go out with a hat. And honestly I do it for sun protection reasons but I get such strange looks.
Kelly

Ewokgirl said...

I think you look lovely with the head covering. It's a nice tradition.

I have to say, though, that I've never understood the wig option. Covering one's own hair with fake hair seems, well, kind of silly, like a loophole. If a woman isn't to show her hair to any man but her husband, why is fake hair acceptable? It's still hair. I hope you don't mind my question.

Crystal said...

I admire your conviction in this and can truly see your commitment and love for your husband in your actions and the way you write regarding this topic.

Michelle said...

Anna - you look beautiful in your scarf!

Carrie - I can so understand where you are coming from. My husband's objection to covering is why I don't cover. And there are places to fellowship with like-minded women, you just may have to search a bit.

Blessings,
Michelle

A Young Lady In Waiting said...

I wanted to ask that myself but I was afraid to offend. Thanks for the details and the links they where very helpful I'm not Jewish but I do love learning about tradtions and little facts about other relgions=).
Many blessings
Sydny

Sue said...

I believe the use of head covering (whether wigs, scarves, or snoods) makes perfect sense for Orthodox Jews and for Christians for whom the Lord has convicted them to do so.

However, I was told be a former pastor (Christian) that the passage in I Corinthians that refers to women and head coverings had a cultural purpose as well as possibly a spiritual reason. The cultural reason is that women with short (or almost no) hair were usually prostitutes in that society. They converted to Christianity and then covered their heads to not make their previous way of life obvious to others and also to indicate to themselves that they had turned from their former "profession" to Christ.

Anonymous said...

dear Anna...
let me state foremost that we Love the Jewish people. You are Gods chosen! I wondered why the Jewish
women I saw in pictures looked very
fashionable and/or immodest compared
to the set apart dress of their males. Thanks be to you Anna for
transcending the ordinary-we practice
the head-covering as Christians-1 Cor. 11.
11}This commandment of Paul is very
clear to us that a women must cover
her head-and the hair is a
covering-but "to be covered"..
or to receive a covering.
..."and let her own works praise
her in the gates."

Mrs. Gunning said...

Anna,
I know this post was written several months ago, but I do have a question for you.
I've noticed the lovely covering you have on in your user picture. Do you mind sharing with me what kind of material it is, what the general shape and size is? I have been wearing bandanas as my covering, but I have been interested in the covering I see in that picture.
Also, how is it secured? It looks as though there are tied spots in the back, but I am not sure.
I would love to hear back from you on this.
My email is pursuer@gmail.com
Thank you so much for your time!

MarkyMark said...

Anna,

Thanks for the informative post! I learned something new today...

MarkyMark

MarkyMark said...

Anna,

I meant to leave this with my previous comment, but I forgot; I was tired when I wrote the other one. Anyway, I wanted to say that one thing I like about this Jewish custom is that it allows me, a guy, to QUICKLY & EASILY discern who is married and who is not.

As you've told me in the past, sometimes women can't wear their rings when pregnant. Other women may have lost their rings. Many women can't or don't have rings to wear. Then, there's the practical matter of rings being SMALL. They're hard to spot from a distance; even up close, they can be hard to see, depending on how a woman is holding her hands (e.g. they're closed or facing away). Though I look for a ring, I can't always SEE it, and I've gotten into some awkward situations because of this.

Well, your Jewish custom (of married women wearing a head covering) makes it nice and easy for me to not MAKE such a faux pas in the first place! I can tell, at a quick glance, who is married; even from some distance away, I know who is NOT available. Both parties win (no awkward, uncomfortable situations for either man or woman), and I wish this custom were more widespread.

MarkyMark

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
I'm very curious about the Jewish religion, so here's a question; Do Jewish woman cover their heads when they pray? Do you? What does the Torah say about headcovering?

What about Jew men as well?
Sorry for being so nosey but I just want to know.
Thanks...

Mrs. Anna T said...

Anon,

Married Jewish women cover their heads when they pray.

Covering one's head is commanded by the Torah.

Men also cover their heads, generally with a kippa, or hat, or both.

Anonymous said...

I just happens to fall upon this post, as a Muslim women I also do cover my head. I cover my head for the various reasons you stated above. It is great to read the things that bind us togather. We have various things in common.