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Whilst studying I came across this,

From Sefer Kedushah, Issurei Biah Chapter 21 - Halacha 17

Jewish women should not walk in the marketplace with uncovered hair. [This applies to] both unmarried* and married women.

Followed by this note,

*I.e., a widow or a divorcee. A woman who never married may wear her hair uncovered (Chelkat Mechokek 21:2).

Simply put, may under any circumstances a never married/divorced woman cover her hair? In the note it says "may wear her hair uncovered", which implies that such a woman could cover her hair and need never to have been married or be currently married to do so. It sounds like it is permissible.

I also wonder if it is allowed for a unmarried woman for personal tznius reasons to cover her hair.


When speaking of "personal tznius reasons" this discussion came up in a class. As some married women choose to, for instance, never uncover their hair as it is seen to be meritorious. The question was asked if it were allowed for unmarried women to have a similar, but of course situational different, high standard.

Consulting my local Orthodox rabbi is a given. However, I like hearing different perspectives. Sometimes LORs don't elaborate on their answers or answer so simply that a discussion doesn't benefit from the answer.

  • Perhaps related?judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/14635/… My question would be whether this specific action would yield the desired result of a higher level of modesty, when the context of the action would seem to draw more attention to an individual, not less! I would try to think of more subtle adaptations that could be made. Covering hair at a time of one's life when no one else does screams 'I'm modest, look!', which isn't what the individual is aiming for, one would assume. – Baby Seal Mar 4 '14 at 4:15
  • In today's world dressing tzniusly already screams "Look, I am modest" as it is not the norm. One could argue this renders dressing modestly counterproductive, if everyone is going to gaze at you. Dressing tzniusly is a very small part of being tznius, which also includes behaviour, speech, and mannerism. Plenty of people abide by the dress part but not by the deeper application. Is it really then untznius to cover ones hair when one is unmarried? Also, what about fashion and style, may one cover ones hair with a colourful turban all the time if one finds it stylish? – user5025 Mar 4 '14 at 4:46
  • That's a fairpoint, and honestly I think its beautiful that the Bnos Yisrael stand out to people by NOT flaunting themselves, be it tacitly or intentionally! I was referring more to within the Jewish community, where halacha and general practice is known. It would, with or without the dresser's intent, project a 'frumer than thou' air on to people, which would accomplish the opposite of tsnius, as outlined in the Talmud in one of the answers I linked. I'm not saying to prohibit it, certainly not in the case of style, I just don't think it will achieve the sought after high standard. – Baby Seal Mar 4 '14 at 5:13
  • Fryda, this is a very interesting discussion, but generally comments are supposed to help to improve the posts your commenting on, so if you'd like to continue chatting, we have a room for that here: chat.stackexchange.com:80/rooms/468/vdibarta-bam. Thanks for your thoughts thus far! – Baby Seal Mar 4 '14 at 5:17
  • Err, my bad, you actually need 10 more reputation to post in chat, sorry! ^ Foryour future reference, I guess. – Baby Seal Mar 4 '14 at 5:20
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Consult your local Orthodox rabbi. The answer should end there.

But really, motivations really matter here. Let us say that I say that there are indeed unmarried girls in Meah Shearim who, based on this Rambam, braid their hair (so that it is not parua). And that in Yemen, Jewish unmarried girls cover their hair just like the Muslims.

If done as a deliberate divergence from the normative standards of tznius, that is, Daas Yehudis, then even if technically within the realm of tznius the practice is allowed, hashkafically, it might be quite problematic. There are groups of women, such as the Burqa Babes, who have formed their own sect and reject rabbinic authority. (And attract attention to themselves with their extremes of tznius, which in fact runs counter to tznius.) Halachic norms are halachic, and you should not necessarily be adding upon yourself more extreme degrees of tznius.

Could you elaborate more upon "personal tznius reasons"?

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    The community in Yemen requires it, rather than allows it. Why can't people adopt restrictive non-halachic practices according to their whims, and declare that this makes them closer to Hashem? It is the first step in rejecting Rabbinic Judaism, as defined by halachic decisors, and creating one's own religion. And this is precisely what has happened, in the present day. (For instance, to follow this thread a bit, if Rashi on the gemara explains that it is specifically hair of a married woman that is erva, why are you arguing and defining this other hair as erva, rejecting Rashi?) – josh waxman Mar 4 '14 at 2:56
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    @josh rambam clearly says a girl of about 3 years old must wear a meetpa7ath n when married a rodeedh on top. Why say it is like muslims? – MoriDowidhYa3aqov Mar 4 '14 at 14:57
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    yes wiki is a great source...also most of the customs teimonim had had been abandoned in israel because it is israel... – MoriDowidhYa3aqov Mar 5 '14 at 4:42
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    @joshwaxman so your saying rambam made up the law because he lived in a muslim country? so those jewish women not living in muslim countries didnt cover that way? theres no sources before him right? – MoriDowidhYa3aqov Mar 5 '14 at 4:47
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    @joshwaxman rabbeniu abraham ban harambam explicitly states that the muslims took the customs of the our prophets while we abandoned our ways. the muslims do a better job at being jews in many aspects than jews. in 9aneeu3th no less – MoriDowidhYa3aqov Mar 5 '14 at 4:49
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Whether an unmarried woman is "allowed" to cover her hair is not only dicussed in Halachic literature, but it is expressly discussed in the context of whether she is obligated.

The discussion, as you mentioned above in your question begins, with the the Rambam. He writes in (Issurei Biah 21:17)

יז לֹא יְהַלְּכוּ בְּנוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל פְּרוּעֵי רֹאשׁ בַּשּׁוּק. אַחַת פְּנוּיָה וְאַחַת אֵשֶׁת אִישׁ.

Jewish women should not walk in the marketplace with uncovered hair. [This applies to] both unmarried and married women.

The Rambam rules that even an unmarried woman is obligated to cover her hair.

The Shulchan Arukh follows the Rambam's rulings regarding both matters – that the law that a woman's hair is a sexual incitement belongs to the laws of modesty and that the law regarding head covering applies even to an unmarried woman (Even Ha-Ezer 21:1-2).

The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayyim 75) writes that the basic law is in accordance with the Rambam

However, The Beit Shemuel (Even Ha-Ezer 21, no. 5) and the Chelkhat Mekokek (there, no. 2) interpret the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch differently and distinguish between "unmarried women" and "virgins."

In other words, when the Shulchan Arukh says in Even ha-Ezer that even unmarried women are obligated to cover their hair, he is referring to unmarried women who had once been married – that is, divorcees and widows.1 However, single women who have never been married are exempt from covering their hair.

The Magen Avraham (Orach Chayyim 75, no. 3) resolves the contradiction differently: The law of head covering applies only to a married woman, whereas the prohibition to walk about with "wild hair," which the Shulchan Arukh codifies in Even Ha-Ezer, relates to wild hair in its plain sense. In his view, the Sages decreed that a single woman must gather her hair together and not let it fall wild.

The accepted practice follows the Beit Shmuel and not the Magen Avraham. Thus, a single woman is not obligated to cover her hair, but a widow and a divorcee are obligated to do so (source)

For different reasons altogether, Rav Yitzchok Berkowitz ruled for a single woman; who was a teacher in a seminary teaching female students, that she is obligated to cover her hair.

His reasoning was that she is in a position of respect, and the underlying principle of hair covering and tznius in general (he did not provide a definitive source), is dignity and self respect, therefore she should cover her hair.

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    Darshinan Taama DiKra? – Double AA Jun 16 '15 at 15:51
  • רגיל בפומי im just quoting. But I did hear this explicitly in a shiur from his mouth. – Shoel U'Meishiv Jun 16 '15 at 15:54
  • @DoubleAA hopefully now it is better – Shoel U'Meishiv Jun 16 '15 at 16:09
  • אִם יֵשׁ עֵדִים שֶׁיָּצָאת בְּהִנּוּמָא וְרֹאשָׁהּ פָּרוּעַ, כְּתֻבָּתָהּ מָאתָיִם. In weding at time of Gemara, the Betula was married without kisui rosh. Nowadays, in a Charedi milieu, it may be problematic to cover the hair for a non married girl, because people can be convinced that she is married or divorced or widow Rachmana litslan – kouty Nov 24 '16 at 11:19
  • @kouty interesting, are you intending on asking according the the simple reading of rambam how you make sense that gemara? – Shoel U'Meishiv Nov 24 '16 at 11:25
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Kitzur Yalkut Yosef on women covering their hair This is what Yabia Omer says about women covering their hair. מעיקר הדין they don't need to until married, apart from praying or studying Torah when EVERYONE should wear a head covering. I'm not sure why so few people actually follow this.

So an unmarried woman must cover her hair during Torah/prayers according to R' Ovadia, and can go without at other times.

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    Please try to use text instead of images when citing sources. – Double AA Dec 8 '16 at 15:19
  • Welcome to the Mi Yodeya! Note that the question was whether that are allowed to generally cover their hair; not whether they are allowed to uncover their hair. – mevaqesh Dec 8 '16 at 17:37
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I haven't heard anything on stopping an unmarried woman from covering her hair although if one has never been married then doing so isn't necessary. On the other hand for those that have been married and no longer are either through divorce or becoming a widow (G-d forbid for either) then we have this concept where once someone begins to take on an action they may not subtract from it. Even in the case of a single girl who has never been married if she takes on the unnecessary stringency of covering her hair then she may not stop covering her hair in the future if she decides doing so is burdensome before getting married. The other issue besides this is making it appear as if one is already married may make it difficult to get married. If people in the community see you with your hair covered already it may be assumed your married. yes that could easily be corrected by those who know you well but then there will be confusion as to why exactly you started covering your hair when it isn't necessary

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It is assur. It's a chutzpah to the rabinnic authorities! It's a statement that says "you guys didn't do your job by enforcing more rabbinical restrictions."

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    This answer would be more valuable if you supported the assertion that it's assur. Thanks. (Also, if you could reconsider the tone, that'd be great.) – Monica Cellio Mar 6 '14 at 2:18
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    This isn't at all helpful. Just like @Monica Cellio said, please provide supporting documentation for the assur statement. – user5025 Mar 12 '14 at 7:38

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