In many traditional Jewish communities, women wear head coverings after marriage. This practice takes different forms: hats, scarves, and wigs referred to as sheitels. Many women only wear the traditional covering when entering or praying in a synagogue, and still others have rejected hair covering altogether. What is the basis for this Jewish practice?
Where This Practice Comes From
The origin of the tradition lies in the Sotah ritual, a ceremony described in the Bible that tests the fidelity of a woman accused of adultery. According to the Torah, the priest uncovers or unbraids the accused woman’s hair as part of the humiliation that precedes the ceremony (Numbers 5:18). From this, the Talmud (Ketuboth 72) concludes that under normal circumstances hair covering is a biblical requirement for women.
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Andrea Grinberg gives some additional insight on the significance of wearing these coverings and what it means to her…