Dec 15, 2010

47 comments:

HSaboMilner said...

Chavi - some women are extremely stringent on this and some are not. When i was learning all the halachot I was told that it wasn't necessary, that it is a chumra for me to cover my hair when in bed during Niddah.

But then again, the minute I get in the house I rip off my sheitel or my scarf or hat. I don't wear it a minute longer than I have to.

I also think the KoD would object. Even if he cannot touch my hair, he enjoys seeing it. Should I cover my entire being when I am niddah? Should I wear a burka with a big red N on the back while Niddah?

What do men do to make themselves less attractive to us while we are Niddah?

OK...I am stopping for now.

Anonymous said...

My wife works in a Chassadic enclave in NY and they sleep with their heads covered the whole year regardless of niddah status. This is after the head is shaved anyway. I guess the short answer is, like everything in Judaism, different strokes for different folks....

Chavi said...

I was reading a few weeks ago in Halichos Bas Yisroel that this is a chumra. It stems from the idea that some woman who gave birth to six Kohanim Gadolim (must not have been the good ones since they had such quick turnover, if you get my drift!), and that she deserved this merit because she never let "even the walls of her house" see her hair. This is apparently where the shaving your hair chumra comes from.

Leah said...

Hello,
I have never responded to your blog although I have read it before and find it to be enjoyable. Oh, by the way the potato leek soup is a delicious soup. I make it as well....
ok, so here goes, are you sitting down Chaviva? I cover my hair always while sleeping. Ok, pick yourself up from off of the floor. Oh, I also live in Florida where it is very hot in the summer. It's like this, there was one time many moons ago when a woman who had several righteous sons was asked what she did to receive this blessing. She responded that, "Not even the beams of my house have seen my braids". This really means that it is a righteous practice to cover one's hair always (married women). so, I do cover my hair always. I am a baales teshuva ( for15 years now). I cover it with a snood when I sleep or a bandana. The snood stays in place better. Ask your rav about what is the halacha if you want to know, yet
I know only some of my friends who do this. Most, I think uncover at night and when niddah they cover I think. You have a really cool blog!
Be well!

Chaviva said...

So I see there are ups, there are downs, and there are different ways that it can be done.

@Hsabomilner You know, I guess there are orthodox Jewish women in Israel who have started covering burka style ... as in, everything but a slit for their eyes. JEWS doing this. It's nuts.

@Leah I'm so glad you decided to comment :D Thank you for your two cents. My personal rabbi gave a hearty "nay" to this observance, but I understand the spirituality and emphasis on righteousness. Knowing that it isn't straight-up halakah makes me feel better that I *don't* do it.

Leah said...

You're a cool chick, Chaviva- hey what time will the soup be ready?

Mark said...

Chavi - I was reading a few weeks ago in Halichos Bas Yisroel that this is a chumra. It stems from the idea that some woman who gave birth to six Kohanim Gadolim (must not have been the good ones since they had such quick turnover, if you get my drift!), and that she deserved this merit because she never let "even the walls of her house" see her hair. This is apparently where the shaving your hair chumra comes from.

This is the story of Kimchit who had 7 sons that all became Kohen Gadol at some point. It's in Gemare Yoma 47a. The Rabbis in the gemara are rather dubious that it was the covering of her hair in her home that caused her to have such sons. They say to Kimchit "many women have done such and not had the results you had".

Here's a good post (with lots of good comments) about it -

http://dovbear.blogspot.com/2009/07/extreme-hair-covering-kimchits-reward.html

Anonymous said...

My lubavitch cousin has told me she covers her hair when she is a niddah.

koshercritternyc said...

Love love love the vlogging....you should do more! Everyone has already covered the origins of the practice and pointed out that much like other things it comes down to haskafah/minhag -- some do, some don't. Personally I think it's nutso and extremist to cover while you are in bed whether niddah or not....but as another commenter said...different strokes for different folks!

Chavi said...

I suppose it's not so nuts when just about all the men I know wear the kippah to bed, knowing full well that it's going to fall off in 5 minutes. I think the shaving is extreme, but just regular hair covering in bed only during the niddah period doesn't seem all that "out there." Thankfully(?), I'm in no position to have a minhag on the matter.

Anonymous said...

I suppose you would think of me as a blooming liberal, but I think that people have gone way overboard and every month or so a new chumrah emerges. As for me, I am past that time of my life, but yes, I wore nightwear to bed but no, I did not cover my hair while sleeping. To me it seems there are elements of fetishism in some of these stringencies.

mother in israel said...

I suggest that 12 days of niddah, hair covering, harchakot and the rest is more than enough. Many argue that even much of this is machmir. Why pick a chumra that is so difficult and and only affects you (except perhaps in the spiritual realm). If you want to pick a chumra, what about choosing something "bein adam lechavero." Judging favorably, always giving a friendly greeting or the benefit of the doubt, escorting guests all the way out of your house, etc.

Chavi said...

Mother in Israel,

As a quote I once heard said, "I may not be the frummest yid, but I'm more frum than you!"

That quote always makes me laugh, but in the most awful way :)

mekubal said...

The source is the Shulhan Arukh Y"D 195:7
(7) He should not look even at her heel and not the other parts of her body that she covers.

The various Meforshim understand this differently, the Ben Ish Hai(Od Yosef Hai Parashat Shoftim 16) and Rav Moshe Feinstein seem to my poor understanding to read this the same way. I will bring Moshe Feinstein since he goes to greater length(Y"D II, 75),
"Any aart of her body that the wife regularly uncovers in front of her husband [not the way she dresses when going in the street but the way she dresses alone with her husband] are called the covered parts and may not be looked upon. All other parts are seen on a regular basis by the husband and thus will not overly excite him and thus may be looked at when she is a Niddah. For example, if the woman covers her hair when going out of the house(a must), but does not cover her hair at home, then the husband may look upon the wife's hair when she is a Niddah. On the other hand, if she is careful to cover her hair well even at home, as is strongly recommended by the Mishnah Berurah 75, then her hair is called "covered parts" and may not be looked upon."

So in the end it is up to you, and your families personal level of piety. As long as the rule of whatever you cover in front of him normally(even a heel) is covered also when Niddah you fall well within the bounds of actual halakha.

mother in israel said...

I would also not take much stock in anything that family told me from now on. Imagine, telling a newly married couple with your background about this chumra. Makes me shudder.

shavuatov said...

Now, I *had* heard of that practice of covering your hair whilst niddah - but then I do a great deal of reading!

Everyone else has already covered the reasons why and why not, so no need for me to add, I don't think.

But just to say - yes, do more vlogging when you can - we like to really hear from you, in the vocal sense!

rachel

tzippi said...

lol... we spoke about this subject on shabbos.

Noah D. Roth said...

A few notes on all the comments to date:
1) Kimchis asserts that she was rewarded b/c "the walls of her home never saw her hair." The rabbis question, and do not accept this assertion.

2) Having 7 sons serve as Kohen gadol implies the death of 6 of your sons in your lifetime. This hardly sounds like a reward.

3) From the fact that Kimchis had 7 sons, it is safe to assume that on at least 7 occasions she cohabited with her husband. Was her head covered at the time of cohabitation in violation of Shulchan Arukh, Nodeh Beyehuda, et al, who cite a prohibition to be "partially dressed during relations indicating a casual manner?" And if her hair was not covered during relations, how can one say that the walls of her house never saw her hair? In biblical norms, there is an assumption that after nightfall it would be dark in a tent unless a candle was lit. It was prohibited to leave a candle lit while sleeping, lest you knock it over, and cause property damage. As such, it was assumed to be dark at times of sleep, and- according to some, but not all opinions- during the act of intercourse, as well. Just as Kimchis uncovered her hair for relations, it is implied that she uncovered her hair for sleep without "allowing' the walls of her home to "see" her hair. Thus the analogy to Kimchis is conflated.

4) Above, commenter "Mekubal" cites the opinion of R' Moshe Feinstein that one could be praised for being stringent in this manner. However, a couple of contextual notes are worth mentioning.

First and foremost, this is a minority opinion.

The nodeh beyehuda does not cite it. The shulchan arukh says that her "covered areas" should be covered, and the Taz explicitly excludes hair from this description. Rav Eider cites the ruling of R'Feinstein and rejects it, noting that it was not based on a textual prohibition to see the niddah wife's hair, but proscription lest it incite the man's desire - if an only if he was unaccustomed to seeing his wife's hair in asexual situations.

(he explicitly states that it is prohibited to say Shma' in front of one's niddah wife's uncovered hair in accordance with the ruling in TB Qiddushin.)

It is worth noting that there is no benefit to creating a scenario in which a woman's uncovered hair would become defacto licentious. Since only in the case where it *is* viewed as such, does R' Moshe suggest that the additional stringency of covering while asleep is "praiseworthy, this gloss should be mitigated accordingly.

We generally assume that a man and wife who have had relations in the past and will have relations in the future can control themselves absent explicitly erotic behavior such as nudity, but uncovered hair was excluded from this doctrine.

It is also worth noting that we have a general principle that we do not put a fence around fence. The additional prohibitions that apply to a man and his Niddah wife are stringencies in place by the rabbis to prevent incidental intimacy and/or temptation. Adding stringencies to the rulings of the rabbis in this regard certainly amounts to a fence around a fence.

Noah D. Roth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Noah D. Roth said...

When I was engaged, my Rav suggested that I purchase a book about Niddah called "Badei hashulchan." I asked why that book specifically. His answer was that it had every conceivable chumra with a textual basis. So many baseless chumrot had emerged, that I needed a "reality check." If I found a custom sourced in badei hashulchan, I should ask him if it had a legitimate basis. If it is not sourced in badei hashulchan, it necessarily textually baseless.

This custom is not referenced in badei hashulchan.

As Jews we believe in Shivim panim latorah. There is not always one right answer, but the text *is* our guide.

In this case, a sourceless custom, first cited in the last century, based on misreading a line of shulchan Arukh, and then, only then, conditionally lauding people for following this stringency if they had already inappropriately added stringency to rabbinic law, is not a valid Jewish custom that the righteous observe.

It is an erroneous addition to our canon and should be treated as such.

mekubal said...

@Noah see above for the textual basis. However, to simplify there is no humra here. The humra which has a textual basis is for a woman to always keep her hair covered, even at home in front of her husband, which is a a dvar hasidut going back to the gemarra. If that be the case then the halakha requires that her hair be covered so that her husband cannot see it when she is niddah.

Or to bring it down as the Ben Ish Hai does. If her normal custom is to always keep her heels covered, whether with socks or shoes, then when she is a niddah she must wear something to prevent her husband from seeing her heel.

There are those who have the custom(which is a valid humra praised by many sages in a large number of books) to dress even at home as they do when they go out into the street. You will find that the above referenced Iggrot Moshe and Ben Ish Hai(the more lenient of the meforshim on the text) say that in those situations the halakha demands that woman act with a stricter level of tzniut when she is niddah.

That you will find in Badai HaShulchan.

mokumalef said...

Mekubal, I realize I am pushing the envelope here, and - granted - my remark is slightly tongue in cheek (but only slightly!). Does this mean that us girls in nordic climates should wear their parkas indoors, and better still: go to bed in parka and boots? Coz' that's what we wear here in winter! I do not want to appear disrespectful; however, there must be an end to the madness. Let's face it, if the inyan is that the husband not see certain parts of his wife at night while she is a nidda, why not prescribe him to wear one of those wonderful eye-covers that you sometimes get on airplanes!? Or, alternatively: a really strong sleeping pill?

Mark said...

Noah - It is also worth noting that we have a general principle that we do not put a fence around fence.

What is the source for this general principle?

Noah D. Roth said...

@mekubal I had to split my comment in half. From your comment I suspect you missed the first comment above where I debunked the "talmudic source" for this "Custom."
I will look into the Ben Ish Hai. Source?

Mark said...

mokumalef - Let's face it, if the inyan is that the husband not see certain parts of his wife at night while she is a nidda, why not prescribe him to wear one of those wonderful eye-covers that you sometimes get on airplanes!? Or, alternatively: a really strong sleeping pill?

Or even better, have them live in separate places during the nidda period. You know, like a different tent.

Noah D. Roth said...

@Mark Pirkei Avot & TB Brachot No Siyag on a Siyag. Throughout shas you see stringencies rejected on this basis.

mekubal said...

First and foremost, this is a minority opinion.

The nodeh beyehuda does not cite it. Of course not, he wrote 300yrs before either the Mishneh Berurah or R' Moshe Feinstein... a time you will note from his seforim that not all women went out with hair covered.
The shulchan arukh says that her "covered areas" should be covered, and the Taz explicitly excludes hair from this description.
No he doesn't
לא יסתכל כו'. - והעונש על זה בגמ' דהויין ליה בנים שאינם מהוגני': מצאתי בהג"ה סמ"ק ישן בשם מהר"ר פרץ אשה נדה יכולה לשכוב אסדיני בעלה ונזהרות מסדינים ששכב עליהם איש אחר פן תתעבר משכבת זרע של אחר ואמאי אינה חוששת פן תתעבר בנדותה משכבת זרע של בעלה ויהא הולד בן הנדה והשיב כיון דאין כאן ביאת איסור הולד כשר לגמרי אפילו תתעבר משכבת זרע של אחר כי הלא בן סירא כשר היה אלא דמשכבת זרע של אחר קפדינן אהבחנה וגזירה שמא ישא אחותו מאביו כדאיתא ביבמות עכ"ל הועתק מספר מו"ח ז"ל:
Rav Eider cites the ruling of R'Feinstein and rejects it, noting that it was not based on a textual prohibition to see the niddah wife's hair, but proscription lest it incite the man's desire - if an only if he was unaccustomed to seeing his wife's hair in asexual situations.
Funny but that was Rav Feinstein's ruling as well. So I am not exactly sure what he is supposed to be rejecting.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I don't mean to steryotype in this post but I think it explains alot.... basically the strictly halachic modern orthodox approach (as in the poskim in YU) will tell you that during niddah you should dress modestly as you would normally when walking around your house. That means (assuming you wear this when your home) a tshirt and sweatpants no hair covering. Yeshivaish poskim generally paskin that you should cover everything you would when you walk out of your house (including your hair). So yes, there are sources, generally adopted by the more strict, for chumrot about dress during niddah, but there are also a majority of modern orthodox poskim who hold otherwise.

That being said, I think this is definitely a personal choice and you should do how you feel comfortable.

Noah D. Roth said...

Eider, who is no meikhil, rejects the premise that you should create a situation where somthing asexual becomes licentious, thus rejecting R"Moshe's psak, which was not based on a halakhic absolutle, but an if/then analysis, in which R' Eider rejects the "If."

Nodeh beyuhudah wrote after Shulchan Arukh. If this was a common minhag he would have cited it.

mekubal said...

where I debunked the "talmudic source" for this "Custom."
No offense but who are you to debunk a source that the Hazon Ish, the Mishneh Berurah, the Ramhal, Rav Ovadia Yosef, the Arizal, the Yaskil Avdei ect... all considered to be valid?

To be clear the custom being for a woman to keep her hair covered also at home.

mekubal said...

basically the strictly halachic modern orthodox approach (as in the poskim in YU) will tell you that during niddah you should dress modestly as you would normally when walking around your house. That means (assuming you wear this when your home) a tshirt and sweatpants no hair covering. Yeshivaish poskim generally paskin that you should cover everything you would when you walk out of your house (including your hair).

Actually both would say that the woman should dress as modestly as normal. The difference lies in what is normal. Some have a (perfectly acceptable)custom to dress less modestly at home the on the street. Others have the custom to dress the same no matter.

Noah D. Roth said...

1) Would you prefer if I ammended the statement to be "I cited sources which debunk the alleged talmudic source?"

2) That is not an halakhic argument. Feel free to argue with the content, but keep the ad hominem to yourself.

Noah D. Roth said...

The custom to dress as modestly at home as in the street does not equal a custom to dress as modestly while sleeping as one would in the street. That is the distinction you are failing to make, as clarified by the language used in the story of Kimchis.

I'll let you have the last word... I have to get back to work.

mekubal said...

Nodeh beyuhudah wrote after Shulchan Arukh. If this was a common minhag he would have cited it.
I know when the Noda B'Yehuda wrote, and that is exactly my point. He writes on OC 75, that in his time many married women did not cover their hair even when they went out onto the street and thus it was permitted to say K"Sh in front of them.

As far as whether he would have included it, I have my doubts. The Hida criticizes his works somewhat for lacking sufficient breadth.(See Noda BeYehuda in Shem HaGedolim).

mekubal said...

The custom to dress as modestly at home as in the street does not equal a custom to dress as modestly while sleeping as one would in the street.
Never said that it did, especially not in my original post.

As far as people have said custom to dress modestly while sleeping, they have their Rabbanim upon whom they rely, and the halakha hear is clear there as well, as this halakha is essentially dependent upon one's own custom for home modesty.

Mottel said...

Covering one's hair constantly comes from the story of Kimchis and the Zohar. Though some may, by dint of their agenda, wish to dismiss it, it remains a story taken l'halacha by tens of thousands of Jews.
Shaving one's head is a Hungarian custom that may have started as a way of preventing Droit de seigneur. For those who do not have a custom of shaving their heads, it may be halachicaly problematic to do so.

During a time of nidah one should not look at her ankle, let alone those parts of her body that are normally covered (Piskei dinim Tzemach Tzedek 195:7).

In regards to kisui harosh b'sha'as tashmish, it is definitaly permitted halachically (and a praise worth act) - the Ya'avetz goes so far as to allow a man to wear tzitzis(!) and in fact sees it as a good thing (Siddur Beis Ya'akov Hanhagos Leil Shabbos chulia 3:3.)

Noah D. Roth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mekubal said...

@Mokumalef
Does this mean that us girls in nordic climates should wear their parkas indoors, and better still: go to bed in parka and boots? Coz' that's what we wear here in winter! I do not want to appear disrespectful; however, there must be an end to the madness.
You misunderstand me. My point is that the halakha is that what you cover when you are in private at home with your husband, is what must be covered during the time of niddah, nothing less and nothing more. Not what you wear on the street in the winter.

Even if you were to wear a parka for whatever reason at home, you would not need to wear a parka, but rather to ensure that what the parka normally covers is also covered.

Bummed out by this said...

I'm so upset by this conversation! Chavi, you asked your Rav, got your answer and do what he says, perfect. You were curious about it and asked for more info, also great! BUT, for all of the others that feel the need to bash people that hold by this shita, come on. And vice-a-versa. Its the old "everyone driving on the road slower than me is in idiot, and everyone driving faster is crazy". Judaism allows for several "right" ways of doing things. All of us have certain chumros and certain kulos. Lets just remember to respect and love each other. And those that are so "passionate" that defensiveness is often rooted in insecurity, so I say, have a Rav, do what you do and be proud of it.

and remember Judaism is a ladder, it doesn't matter what rung you are on, it only matters which way are you moving.

mokumalef said...

Mekubal, hence: tongue in cheek ....

Flying Penguin said...

When a woman is a niddah, she needs to be modest in front of her husband. However, at this point, modesty is subjective. If u are a woman, who always covers her hair in front of her husband (i.e. doesn't walk around w/ her hair uncovered at all in front of him except when u go to sleep) then for you, you would have to cover your hair at night when you are a niddah. However, if you normally walk around the house with your hair uncovered, or wearing pants etc.... you can continue these practices while you are a niddah.

Its really a matter of what is normal for you. The point is more that you shouldn't get dressed in front of your husband because you don't want him to want what he can't have ;-)

Chaviva said...

Here's my take-away, and I have to say I enjoyed and appreciated the lively and informative conversation that took place here:

When niddah, wear what is normative to bed. If it's normative for you to wear jammies and no covering at home in front of your husband, wear that to bed. If it's normative to cover your hair and dress fully modestly ... then do that.

Mottel said...

I don't think normative is the right word - a pair of very suggestive pajamas etc. would not be appropriate, while nidah, even if worn at other times.

Sheva said...

I also cover my hair 23/7. One must shower. This includes in bed , and I'm always searching for a snood that will stay on all night, so if anyone could suggest one. This is common among the Chasidishe sect, not because we try to be more strict , not because we like to take Chumras and turn them into Halacha. It's basic Chasidius, ok maybe not so basic. It is not as much having to do with walls and hair and Cohen sons, evennthough a woman does bring Brochas into her home by covering her hair. It has to do with the understanding of Adam and Chava and understanding in the begining they were connected as one soul like conjoined twins and then separated. When we marry we also become one soul our neshamas are joined. Now to go on to hair. Hair acts as a limited funnel for Hashem's energies. Like little connectors. In this world we are so low on the spiritual ladder( the 10 seferios) that unfortunately there is impurity and negativity. In short and excuse me for butchering this In this last sefira we live in the hair becomes lpconductors for both the lure and impure. When man and woman marry, the man gives forth and the woman recieves and she receives Hashem's holiness through her mini conductors at the same time we can receive the impure. This is why we must protect and cover every single hair of these holy conductors, this is why we bring the brochas into the home by protecting our hair. We keep Hashem's Holiness in and the yuck out. This is why chasidic women cover our hair so strictly. In my home i want my children raised in as much af Hashems holiness as possible and this is what i can do to help 24/6.
Wow that was a lot to get out , did it make sense could
anyone add.

le7 said...

I was reading a few weeks ago in Halichos Bas Yisroel that this is a chumra. It stems from the idea that some woman who gave birth to six Kohanim Gadolim (must not have been the good ones since they had such quick turnover, if you get my drift!), and that she deserved this merit because she never let "even the walls of her house" see her hair. This is apparently where the shaving your hair chumra comes from.

I never thought about the fact that many women don't cover their hair when they sleep. I was taught to cover my hair at all times even when I sleep. Of course I was also taught that we don't shave our heads. I guess it doesn't seem so crazy to me, because hey, men sleep with yarmulkes and tzitzis.

I suppose it's not so nuts when just about all the men I know wear the kippah to bed, knowing full well that it's going to fall off in 5 minutes. I think the shaving is extreme, but just regular hair covering in bed only during the niddah period doesn't seem all that "out there." Thankfully(?), I'm in no position to have a minhag on the matter.

Also funny enough, at least one guy who I happen to know pretty well (OK I'm married to him) goes to sleep with him yarmulke on and wakes up with it on. (If it falls off, he literally wakes up to put it back on).

I guess again, I have no point. It's all sensitivity. For many of the people who keep these seemingly outlandish customs, wouldn't have it any other way, because this is what they are sensitive to.

Rivki said...

I really enjoyed the vlog; it was great to actually hear your voice. Its going to add a whole new level to reading your blog. Neat.

I wasn't taught to cover my hair while sleeping, and hadn't heard of it until a friend of mine (is Israel, funnily enough) asked me if I covered my hair while in niddah.

So, I do and I don't. I'm still on the fence about whether or not I want my kids (the oldest of which isn't yet 2) to see my hair. My toddler, when he has seen my hair, has called it a sheitel. Cute. I guess it's time to ask my Rav...

Anonymous said...

Just came across this blog - just love it!!

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