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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an image from 400 years ago of Jewish women covered from head to toe, but Frenkel says experts believe there are no historical references to back up her claims."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
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"And he thought her to be a prostitute because she covered her face." (Sefer Bershit) –  Hacham Gabriel Aug 4 '13 at 15:40

2 Answers 2

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 –  MoriDoweedhYaa3qob 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
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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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Thats the point, I said it is hijab not niqab. Hijab is just head covering and side of face. Niqab is the small cloth put on the face. –  MoriDoweedhYaa3qob Mar 6 '13 at 19:45

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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