The custom for married women to shave their heads is, evidently, a fairly widespread custom that exists at least amongst (certain) Hasidim. I have heard a variety of supposed, non-authoritative explanations for this practice, but, hitherto, I have been unable to find an explicit, written source. It would be greatly appreciated if some light were shed on this subject matter, particularly the following questions:
- What is the source/origin of this minhag? What is the underlying reasoning behind it? Is it primarily halakhic? Kabbalistic? Cultural? Historically speaking, how old is it?
- Sociologically speaking, who abides by this custom? For instance, some (e.g. Satmar) clearly do adhere to this practice whilst others (e.g. Sepharadim) clearly do not. My understanding had been that this was an exclusively hasidic minhag. Is this truly so? Are there non-Hasidim/Misnagdim who hold this way? If so, who? Conversely, are there Hasidim who don't practice this? If so, who, and why?