We learn the mitzvah of a married woman covering her hair from the verse in Bamidbar (5:18) וּפָרַע אֶת רֹאשׁ הָאִשָּׁה. The Talmud in various places expounds on the details.

While I am very aware that wearing a transparent hair covering is not in the "spirit" of the law, would it be technically considered permissible? The Torah says the hair of the Sotah was "uncovered", implying the mitzvah is to "cover".

  • Just to add- my initial thoughts are that it is not permissible, as the purpose of uncovering would be null and void if the covering was transparent. In other words, the whole purpose of covering is so that another cannot see! Thoughts anyone? – AKayser Jun 12 '14 at 16:33
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    I don't know how you know what the whole purpose of the covering (deorayta) is, nor how you know it isn't in the spirit of the law. – Double AA Jun 12 '14 at 16:46
  • I did not mean to suggest I know the whole purpose of covering, I was merely suggesting that generally one covers parts of the body so that it is not visible, such as in the case of Adam and Chava when Hashem created garments for them. Would you disagree with that? Also, I was suggesting that it was not in the spirit of the law using svara or common sense based on the points I have just made. @DoubleAA – AKayser Jun 12 '14 at 17:10
  • A similar question can be asked concerning sheitels. Some are so real looking (genuine human hair) it would, figuratively speaking, be as if they were transparent. I understand certain frumsters don't approve of such head coverings but most seem to prefer them. – JJLL Jun 13 '14 at 1:08
  • @JJLL What is a frumster? Sounds pejorative... – Gadol Jun 13 '14 at 1:42

One can ask if a person can be undressed and stand in front of their front window, but that obviously is a breach of tznius. Why should this be any different?

In the laws of Shma(75:5) it says that Ervah ba'Ashashis (unclothedness in glass) is also untznius and someone else can't say Shma facing them so your case where she is wearing a transparent hair covering it's the same, as Mishne Brurah (25) writes.

See Halichos Bas Yisroel (4:6) where he writes

Areas of the body covered by transparent clothing are considered exposed.

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    What about the obligation to cover hair, though? This just addresses if it is modest, which is a separate concern, and one which is very possibly a time- and location-specific one. A hair covering with pornography on it is also immodest, but might fulfill the obligation to cover hair. – Double AA Jun 13 '14 at 2:24
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    Pornography on the hair covering is a covering of the hair, but introduces a new immodesty issue. Invisible hair covering does not solve the original issue of ervah at all. If it is still ervah for Shma it is obviously not resolving the Das Moshe/Yehudis requirement of covering ervah – Gadol Jun 13 '14 at 2:40
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    The point of Das Moshe is to help men say keriat shema??? You have it backwards. Men only can't say keriat shema because it is a covered place, because of Das Moshe. You're putting the cart before the horse. – Double AA Jun 13 '14 at 2:56
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    @DoubleAA Not sure what you're reading...Ervah is ervah. Ervah for shma is ervah. Ervah for kisui is ervah. If you have a proof that the guidelines for ervah are different, fine. – Gadol Jun 13 '14 at 3:02
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    1. The obligation to cover hair stems from the hair being ervah. 2. Hair covered with tranparent covering is ervah as seen in hilchos Shma. Thus, transparent covering is still ervah and not considered covering. Not sure where you're having a difficulty. – Gadol Jun 13 '14 at 3:22

You are indeed correct. A transparent covering does fulfill the Torah obligation you reference for a married woman to cover her hair. (Note though that there are other rabbinic issues at play besides the biblical requirement you mention, so leaving any hair visible may still not be acceptable in the final halachic analysis.)

Rabbi Mordechai Willig makes this claim explicitly in minute 29 of this recording. Indeed it is hard to imagine anyone disagreeing with this claim as the Talmud (Ketubot 72) is clear that a kalta (some sort of basket) fulfills said obligation, and according to many, many Rishonim (see lists and analysis in Benei Vanim 3:21 and 3:25:5) a kalta did not cover all the hair (either because it had holes or because it wasn't big enough). In other words, the Talmud is clear that a covering does not have to effect the removal of visible "ervah" in order to qualify for said obligation.

  • The other answer appears to be unfortunately confused about a number of concepts, as it is discussing regulations about concealing ervah. (Always worth looking back at original sources instead of making diyukim in late 20th century English Halacha guides.) – Double AA Nov 27 '14 at 7:23

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