hasidic jewish hair – women & men orthodox info

Orthodox Hasidic Jews have unique ways in which they wear their hair. Their appearance might seem unusual to an outsider. This page will explain these devout traditions. First it will explain about women, and then it will explain about men.

 

Women

(For men please scroll down lower on this page)

Hasidic Jewish women have strict rules about their hair.

What are the rules?

The following is their Orthodox tradition: when a woman is married her hair must be covered in public. It must be completely obscured so that it is totally invisible to any man. Many women go further with this restriction and they keep their hair covered at all times, including in their home.

How do they do this?

The most common ways that women will cover their hair is with a wig or scarf, and sometimes a hat. The wig they use is called a "sheitel" in Yiddish. It can be made of synthetic material, or made from real human hair. These wigs are quite expensive, costing as much as $500-1500. It is common that Hasidic women will own 2 or more wigs: one for everyday use, and another for holidays and special occasions. The scarf that some Orthodox women will wear is called a "tichel." It will be tied in place over the hair. A hat may also be worn, although it typically will not fully cover all the woman's hair alone, so it will be in conjunction with a wig or scarf.

What is the reason for these rules?

The reason for these rules about Hasidic womens' hair is: modesty. Orthodox Jews are very strict about this matter, which is called "Tznius". They keep their whole bodies covered at all times - with sleeves past their elbows and skirts below their knees. The purpose of these regulations are so that men will not be tempted by the sight of a woman's body. Sexual fidelity is a major thing which is taken seriously by Orthodox Jews. Genders are kept separate at schools, synagogues and even sometimes on transportation buses or in the street.

Do Hasidic women shave their heads?

Some Hasidic women shave their heads, while others do not. For those who shave, they are being extra-observant of the rule. They are making it to be impossible that their hair can ever be seen, because they don't have any. Not all Orthodox Jewish women do this. Many of them do not. For the ones who do not shave, they don't consider it necessary to go to such an extent. They are satisfied with just carefully keeping their head covered. Either way, most women will maintain the hair coverage within their home and maybe even within their bedroom.

 

Men

Hasidic Jewish men typically wear sidecurls and a beard. The sidecurls - called "Payos" - are usually in front of each ear, extending downwards. They can be long and often curly. The curls are not based on any scriptural rule - they are just a style that has become widespread.

What are the rules?

The rule is that a man must not cut or trim his hair within a special facial region. The boundaries of this zone are on each side of the face - roughly between the middle of the ear and the eye, below a bone which is there. Many Orthodox Jews simply do not trim their sideburns above this line. Other Jews - primarily Hasidic ones - go further with this tradition. They do not trim or cut their hair here at all. Rather, they allow it to grow indefinitely. The result is long sidecurls that visibly extend downward.

What is the reason for these rules?

Unlike the rules for women (which are based on the practicalities of modesty), the reason for the mens' hair rules is not clearly known. The original basis is a scripture which states that a man should not "round the corner of his head." Authoritative talmudic scholars have determined that the meaning of this scripture are these sidecurl rules. As for the reason behind the rule - it is commonly thought that this is a type of commandment which G-d has provided no explanation for. G-d simply instructed it, and devout Jews are expected to adhere. Overall, many commandments are based with logic or practicality (such as washing one's hands before eating) while other commandments are dictated and the worshiper is expected to follow without questioning it.

What about the beard?

The reason for the beard is as follows: there are regulations on how a man may shave. Most Orthodox Jews will not use a razor to shave. Other Hasidic Jews go further with this and they do not shave at all.

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