So I was studying the start of Bame Isha in the Bavli (Shabas 57), and it seems a woman can't wear a tight strap or string in her hair outside (of an eruv) on Shabas (lest she remove it out of doors because she's going to be tovel). Looking at Shulchan Aruch (with Mishna B'rura) 303 seems only to confirm this (and apply it even to unmarried and elderly women). Yet it seems to me that very many a woman does wear a ponytail, bound by an elastic, outside of an eruv on Shabas. What gives?

  • Am I misapplying the halacha to ponytail elastics? That is, does it not apply to them? Why not?
  • Or am I mistaken about the prevalence of ponytail-elastic use on Shabas, and, in fact, those careful about halacha don't wear them?
  • Or is it simply that many women sin — viz, wear ponytail elastics even though it's forbidden?
  • Or what?
  • You mean you see women wearing them outside an eruv, right? (The whole "outside an eruv" concept will seem outdated to many younger readers here.) – Shalom Apr 20 '15 at 12:46
  • @Shalom, yes, outside the eruv. I'll edit to clarify. – msh210 Apr 20 '15 at 12:53
  • There is a long tradition of Jewish women ignoring these kinds of Halachot on Shabbat (303:18). (I don't know if this particular example is in that category or not.) – Double AA Apr 20 '15 at 13:47
  • As @DoubleAA said, yes, e.g. only ear-rings are permitted to be worn, and not nose-rings, because she may take the nose-ring out to show to her friends, and then come to carry it, whereas "a womans ears are always covered", and therefore she will not come to take ear-rings out. Nowadays, when it is common for women to display their ears, ear-rings are still worn outside the an eruv... – Adám Apr 20 '15 at 14:10
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    @DanF Traditional Judaism generally does not disregard rabbinic prohibitions just bc their reasons no longer apply. – Double AA Apr 20 '15 at 15:41

Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata (16:18, cf. footnotes 69, 82) notes that the practice is to be lenient and cites the following from Orchot Chayim (Shabbat 261) to try and justify the practice, though in closing with a reference to the Beiur Halacha (303:18 sv. Ki) he indicates how weak he believes the justification is.

וכן האשה לא תצא בדבר שהוא חוצץ בפני הטביל' וטעמא דמלתא דלמא מתרמיא לה טבילה של מצוה בשבת ושריא לה ואתיא לאתויינהו ד' אמות בר"הר ואע"פי שאין מטבילין את הכלים בשבת זהו מפני שמתקן כלי אבל הטמא מותר לטבול מפני שנראה כמיקר. ואיכא מאן דאמר ה"מ דאיכא למיחש בהכי במקומות שטובלו' בנהר אבל במקומות שטובלות במקואות שבתוך הבתים לית לן בה. וכתב הר' דוד בר לוי ז"ל ועכשיו פשט המנהג ברוב מקומותינו להיות הנשים יוצאות בכל אלו הדברים שקולעות בהן שערן אפי' בדברים שחוצצים בטבילה ואין מוחה בידן ג"כ בכל התכשיטין האחרים שיש לחוש דלמא שלפא ומחויא יוצאות בהדיא ויוצאות אף בדורות קדמוננו שהיו חסידים ואנשי מעשה ואין מי יערער בדבר ואפשר שהתנהגו בדברים אלו כשאר הדברים שאמרו עליהן הנח להם לישראל מוטב שיהיו שוגגין ואל יהיו מזידין וכן דעת ר"ת ז"ל...‏
...and there are some who say that [this prohibition] is only in places where they [ritually] dip in rivers, but in places where they [ritually] dip in Mikvaot that are in houses, there is no need to be concerned... [my partial translation]

(See too ShA OC 303:18 that women wearing prohibited "adornments" on Shabbat is not a new phenomenon and various rabbinic responses to it. והמבין יבין)

  • Not seeing it in SSK there (or anywhere in SSK, actually). (I'm atm checking a local synagogue's copy, "new, fixed, and expanded" in 5739.) – msh210 Apr 21 '15 at 3:09
  • @msh210 My volume is rather yellowed so I assume it is not any of the redone versions but probably the original. It was printed in Jerusalem in 5725. – Double AA Apr 21 '15 at 3:31

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