We are continuing in siman 5. We have been speaking about the chiyuv for married women to cover their hair. We know that a woman who is not married is not chayav to cover her hair. Today, we will discuss a woman who is no longer married, whether divorced or widowed.
We know that the Shulchan Aruch writes (Orach Chaim 75:2) that one cannot recite kriyas shema in the presence of the uncovered hair of a married woman. However, one may recite kriyas shema in the presence of an unmarried woman, for whom the derech is to keep her hair uncovered. We understand that the fact they do not cover their hair is not against halacha, and it is appropriate for them to keep their hair uncovered, so there is no issur to recite kriyas shema in their presence.
The Rambam seems to understand differently. The Rambam writes (Issurei Biah 21:17) that Jewish women–both married and unmarried–should not go with their hair paruah, which we will assume means loose or uncovered. Arguably, the Rambam is not in accordance with the understanding of the Shulchan Aruch. The source for the Rambam is the Gemara in Kesubos. The Gemara says that covering hair is deoraysa, and brings the pasuk from sotah. The Gemara continues and says that we learn from the pasuk that Jewish women (bnos Yisroel) should not go out with their hair uncovered. The Gra points out that this Gemara is the source for the Rambam, as the Gemara does not distinguish between married and unmarried women.
The problem is that even though both the Tur and Shulchan Aruch pasken in Orach Chaim that a woman who was never married does not cover her hair, they write in Even Haezer siman 21 that both married and unmarried women should not go out with their hair paruah, like the Rambam.
There are multiple approaches to answer this question. The approach of the Prisha and Bais Shmuel in Even Haezer is that the Tur and Shulchan Aruch in Even Haezer are referring to a woman who is widowed or divorced. Since she was previously married, she must continue covering her hair. If she was never married, she does not have to cover her hair, as the Tur and Shulchan Aruch pasken in Orach Chaim. The Bach and Chelkas Mechokeik follow this approach as well.
The Magen Avraham answers that even girls who are not married, although they do not have to cover their hair, should not let their hair loose. He understands the word paruah in the Rambam as referring to loose rather than uncovered. This is the source for the minhag in some communities that single women keep their hair tied in ponytails so that it is not paruah. Thus, the Magen Avraham is distinguishing between the need to cover one’s hair, which only applies to a married woman, and not letting one’s hair be paruah, which applies to all women. Seemingly, according to the Magen Avraham, we could argue a leniency as well, that the chiyuv to cover one’s hair is limited to a woman who is married now, so a woman who is divorced or widowed would not have to cover her hair, but would only have to ensure it is not paruah.
We will learn more about this question in the coming shiur, be’ezras Hashem.
There is a contraction in the Tur and Shulchan Aruch about whether a woman who is unmarried needs to cover her hair.
- According to all opinions, a woman who was never married does not need to cover her hair.
- According to one understanding, a woman who is not currently married–whether never married, divorced or widowed–does not need to cover her hair, but must ensure it is not paruah.
- According to another understanding, a woman who was married but is now divorced or widowed must still cover her hair, while a woman who was never married does not need to do anything.