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I read here about certain Jewish sects prescribing face veil. Is there, in fact, a rule requiring or encouraging covering the faces of women in presence of unrelated men? If so, what is the source for this rule?

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I don't know of any (I know of one face covering -- male, and other kinds of covering for females). What prompted this? Do you have any particular case or text in mind? –  Danno Mar 5 '13 at 17:23
    
hebrewbooks.org/… –  Gershon Gold Mar 5 '13 at 17:37
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the source NPR article answers your question "Keren claims to have seen an image from 400 years ago of Jewish women covered from head to toe, but Frenkel says experts believe there are no historical references to back up her claims." –  Danno Mar 5 '13 at 18:02
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I've simplified this down to a question about Jewish law and the source for it. A separate history question could be asked, especially if this question's answer starts with "yes." (@SethJ) –  Isaac Moses Mar 5 '13 at 18:36
    
BTW a bride obviously does cover her face - so if you see such a portrait you have to make sure it's not a wedding portrait. –  Ariel Mar 5 '13 at 19:42
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3 Answers

I have seen pics from the 1900s and even late 1800s with Jewish women having a hijab type head covering, not niqab

I am pretty sure RaMbaM said for a girl to cover her hair at age 3 because that is when she is sent to the market and is in the public's view. Once married she needs to put a rodid on top of the mitpahath. (Hilchos Ishus Perek 13 & 24)

I also have pics to display to show as examples, but that will all be tommorow.

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There's a bunch of jargon here that needs to be translated. –  Isaac Moses Mar 6 '13 at 15:10
    
xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/16813213/sn/516997047/name/… I assume these are ashkenazic women –  MoriDoweedhYaa3gob Mar 6 '13 at 16:23
    
Unless I'm mistaken, you can't see any womens' faces, covered or uncovered, in that picture. –  Isaac Moses Mar 6 '13 at 16:26
    
Browser keeps crashing, I can't link so many pics at once at my college's computer I am assuming. –  MoriDoweedhYaa3gob Mar 6 '13 at 16:29
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I did not look at all of the pictures linked to in your comments, above, DhoweedYaAgov, but certainly many of them do not show covered faces, which was AFAICT the question. –  msh210 Mar 6 '13 at 19:12
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This sect is referred to by many today with a mixture of amusement, frustration, and annoyance. Most will tell you that they are bringing the rules of modesty to an unprecedented extreme for which there is no source nor Jewish tradition.

However, a while ago on the Seforim Blog, Marc Shapiro addressed this sect (which he calls the "Jewish Taliban Women"), and brings many sources that recommend or praise the use of such full-body veil (burqa-like) coverings. I will not reproduce his words here, but his sources include the Jerusalem Talmud (as interpreted by its commentaries), R' Baruch Epstein (1860-1941), and R' Joseph Messas (1892-1974). Additionally, Shapiro lists some contemporary rabbis who have written/spoken in favor of the shawls worn by these women.

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"[The Beloved] Behold, you [are] fair, my love! Behold, you [are] fair! You [have] dove's eyes behind your veil. Your hair [is] like a flock of goats, Going down from Mount Gilead." Songs 4:1

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Welcome to Mi Yodeya. You've offered an opinion on the matter, but the question asks about the halacha and its sources, which this does not provide. This site is a little different from other sites; we're not a discussion forum but a targeted Q&A site. I encourage you to edit this answer to bring it into line with site guidelines (see about). If you don't this will likely be removed soon. Thanks. –  Monica Cellio Aug 4 '13 at 15:23
    
You are correct. I will edit it. –  WillieNAz Aug 4 '13 at 16:37
    
@MonicaCellio other sites require you to read the guidelines before posting. I am glad you gave me the guidelines since I was allowed to comment without reading the guidelines. Now I have a lot of negative scores for my comments and am forbidden to ever answer anything again. My opinions have no value here, so I will just leave and not bother you good folks again. Be blessed. –  WillieNAz Aug 4 '13 at 18:04
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WillieNAz, the answer block is something automatic built into the system, not something anybody explicitly decided to apply. If you edit your answers in line with site guidelines, that will encourage people to reverse their votes and that will cause the ban to be removed. It's not meant to be permanent and I'm sorry you ran into it. I hope you'll stick around. –  Monica Cellio Aug 4 '13 at 18:21
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