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Inspired by this answer, I'm curious. We hold that hair of a married woman is 'Ervah. Yet it is not 'Ervah for an unmarried woman. According to the Gemara in Shabbath (Bab. 95a), braiding the hair is "building".

Now, if it is part of the human body, why is braiding it "building"?

If it is not part of the human body, how can it be 'Ervah?

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Who said building cannot be done with body parts?? –  Dov F Jan 18 '13 at 16:19
@SethJ Your thumb is cold. –  Dov F Jan 18 '13 at 18:29
@SethJ Whether or not your body accepts taste seems to have absolutely nothing to do with if you can build with it l'inyan shabbat. I don't see any reason to assume Melachot can't be done with the body (Gozez and Dash come to mind) nor any reason why being a part of the body is a prerequisite for erva status (consider a Niddah's colorful clothes or a Playboy magazine). Additionally, we might consider hair part of the body for some things (Mikva) but not others (Kevura). –  Double AA Jan 18 '13 at 21:44
Voice is also not part of the body, yet קול באשה ערוה. –  Fred Jan 20 '13 at 18:45
@SethJ I'm skeptical of the question's premise, but I didn't downvote... yet (bwahahaha). I think you should provide some source that suggests that 1.) ervah generally only applies to body parts (which I doubt in part because of קול באשה ערוה (Berachos 24a)), and 2.) boneh cannot be effected with the body (which I doubt because of the last Rashi on Kesuvos 6b (s.v. Chayyav)). –  Fred Jan 21 '13 at 22:52

1 Answer 1

Hair is part of the body. The Gemara (Sukkah 6a) calls it טפל לבשרו; secondary to the flesh, but clearly a legitimate part of the body, as it needs to be included in tevila (ibid).

As to why @SethJ heard that a married woman's hair is ervah and not an unmarried woman's, the source that hair is ervah is Berachos 24a. The Mordechai there cites a Ra'avya (an opinion echoed by various rishonim) that things which in any particular society people are used to, do not retain the status of ervah, despite the Gemara naming them so. So it's really a case of the chicken and the egg; the single women do not uncover their hair because it isn't ervah; rather it isn't ervah because they uncover their hair.

I fail to see how any of this would have bearing on Hilchos Shabbos.

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How can you effect Boneh with a part of your body? –  Seth J Jan 18 '13 at 17:04
@SethJ Why not? What is the basis of your premise that you cannot? I don't think it needs to be said that the "building" we are talking about is more a legal term than simply one you can find defined in Webster's dictionary. –  Dov F Jan 18 '13 at 18:28
No, it has to be something that was found in Binyan HaMishkan. Which is to say, building as we know it, and virtually identical to Webster's definition of same. –  Seth J Jan 20 '13 at 17:47
Come on. They didn't build with electric drills in the mishkan either, yet we apply the principle of 'building' to building with an electric drill, because there is no halachicly significant difference. You have not shown that there is a halachicly significant difference between building with sticks and stones and building with body parts. You've merely made a rhetorical remark. –  Dov F Jan 20 '13 at 18:02
I see what you did there... –  Seth J Mar 3 at 3:23

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