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1548 – Brachos and Tefilos – (Klal 4 Siman 5) – Hair – 7 – Summation

D'var Halacha
D'var Halacha
1548 - Brachos and Tefilos - (Klal 4 Siman 5) - Hair - 7 - Summation
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We have been discussing the halachos of hair, and we will recap and summarize what we have learned.


  1. There are two related but different halachos regarding hair. One regards a woman’s general chiyuv to cover her hair, and the second regards the issurim of ervah for kriyas shema, learning, and other devarim shebikedusha. These are two separate dinim.


A woman’s general chiyuv to cover hair:

  1. It is clear there is a din deoraysa to cover the hair, and it is clear from the Gemara that the din deoraysa is referring to some level of a public place. 

  2. There is a chiyuv derabanan to cover more:

    1. According to Tosfos, it means that mideoraysa, in public one may have some hair visible, but miderabanan, Chazal obligated to cover the hair completely. There is also a more private place in which Chazal did not obligated a woman to cover her hair at all. Even according to Tosfos, even when hair is allowed to be uncovered, divrei kedusha will still not be allowed to be recited in its presence. 

    2. According to the Rambam, mideorasya the chiyuv is to cover one’s head with one cover in a public place, and miderabanan, Chazal obligated a second covering to ensure all hair is covered. In more private places, only one covering is necessary. 

      1. According to the Bach and Beis Shmuel, the chiyuv of one covering applies in all private places, even in one’s home. Even though she would not lose her kesubah for not covering her hair at home, it is still assur.

    3. The Zohar holds that there is a chiyuv for a woman to cover her hair even at home, and the Chasam Sofer holds that it has become the halachic standard, based on the concept of minhag oker halacha. The Mishnah Berurah agrees with this approach.

  3. We discussed the halacha of tefach, whether a woman has the right to leave some of her hair uncovered. 

  • We discussed the opinion of the Bais Boruch, who holds that the Gemara never said the leniency of tefach regarding hair, only regarding skin, so there is no leniency for hair. 

  • Reb Moshe holds that the Gemara does apply to hair, and is even more lenient in that the Gemara is only a leniency regarding kriyas shema, while Reb Moshe holds that when it comes to hair, the leniency of a tefach also applies to the general chiyuv for a woman to cover her hair, and not just for devarim shebikedusha. 

  • We discussed Reb Moshe’s opinion as to how to calculate the tefach. 

  • The other poskim who are lenient on hair when it comes to kriyas shema do not agree regarding a woman’s general chiyuv to cover her hair. According to Reb Moshe, a woman can rely on the heter of tefach even in a reshus harabim.

  1. We discussed the heter of the tzimtan (back of neck, sides, and stray hairs). According to the Zohar, one should not be meikil, but arguably, the minhag is to be meikil. 



Issurim of ervah for devarim shebikedusha.

  1. One cannot recite devarim shebikedusha in the presence of hair which is uncovered. 

  2. If the hair is uncovered less than a tefach, we have a machlokes between the Bais Boruch and Reb Moshe (above, #4).

  3. We learned the opinion of the Aruch Hashulchan that maybe one could argue that in the same way an unmarried woman’s hair is not ervah, because it was/is the derech for them to leave it uncovered, maybe in a society where women leave their hair uncovered, it is no longer an issue of ervah for devarim shebikedusha. 

    1. To clarify again, the Aruch Hashulchan is not saying that a married woman does not have to cover her hair, just that maybe it no longer has the status of ervah in regards to kriyas shema and other devarim shebikedusha. Reb Moshe paskens like the Aruch Hashulchan; the Mishnah Berurah does not.

  4. Regarding defining the “society in which women leave their hair uncovered”, we are certainly not talking about the non-Jews, and probably not secular Jews either. We are discussing a frum society, as the Aruch Hashulchan was grappling with in Lithuania.

  5.  In the society within which we define ourselves, it has become the standard for women to cover their hair, so arguably the Aruch Hashulchan no longer applies. 

Similarly, when Reb Moshe wrote his teshuva, it was in the 1960’s, when frum women often did not cover their hair either. Baruch Hashem, that has changed in America, and Reb Reingold does not think this heter would apply anymore. 

  1. Again, even if it did apply, it would only allow for one to recite devarim shebikedusha, it would not allow for a woman to do it in the first place. 

  1. Hair is an ervah derabanan, so closing one’s eyes would work to recite the devarim shebikedusha. The Chayei Adam brings a safeik whether hair is an ervah deoraysa, in which closing one’s eyes would not work, and one would need to shift their body as well.

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