I have recently (in the last few months) begun to cover my hair full time again, and have been asked by several people why I am doing so when not too long ago I was vehemently opposed. It’s a fair question and I will attempt to answer it here.
When I married I didn’t want to cover my hair, I just did it because it was asked of me. Almost every time I covered it I felt like I was putting shackles on. I never researched it, never wanted to understand the reasons why. I just went along with the flow – shalom bayit (peace in the home), y’know? At the time that I uncovered my hair, about 10 days after receiving my Get, I did so after a lot of conscious thought and reflection. It wasn’t a case of “so sad too bad”! Yes, some people around me were shocked and didn’t understand and some people went as far as to assume that it meant I threw away religion in totality. Not so. Those very close to me were not surprised. The way I looked at it then, was as follows: when a person God forbid passes away we rip our clothes, we sit shiva and observe a period of mourning, and we take physical things upon ourselves for the year to remind us of our loss – no music, men don’t shave etc. My Get happened mere weeks after we separated. I was in so much deep pain and suffering and at that time, I needed, for myself, to physically show signs of my grief (other than crying all day long wherever I was – that gets old quickly), to work through the grief and the pain and the anguish and all of that. It was never about “not married any more so who needs to cover their hair, I am doing what I want”. I needed to do it to help heal my spirit. I needed to show myself and the world that I was not the same person I was when I was married.
By the time the recent barmitzvah preparations were in full swing and Lenny asked that I wear a sheitel (wig) and not a hat, I had to do some tremendous soul searching. Of course the fact that he reminded me that I had told him this was HIS day, and was about HIM and no one else – that put more pressure. (I hate when they actually listen to what I say!) He said he would be “ok” if I wore a hat, but would prefer me to wear a sheitel.
Standing there, on the day of the barmitzvah, watching my son do his bit, my heart swelling with enormous pride and love and gratitude to G-d, I knew I had come full circle. I knew my mourning was very much over. I let go of the past, of the pain, of the anger and bitterness. That day marked Lenny’s barmitzvah but also in some ways my rebirth.
I now cover my hair on my terms, because it is what I feel is right for where I am in life. No one is forcing me to do it. I can find countless heterim (dispensations) that allow me to keep it uncovered. But the aveilut (mourning) is over. My life has been returned to me in many ways, in so many wonderful ways. Life is good. Life is BH amazing. I have 4 kids who are so wonderful and good and generous and loving, I have a new job that I love, I have friends and community around me that have literally pulled me through these last few years – we have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, I pay some bills every month, and I am still young. I have so much. G-d has blessed me with more than I could ever have dreamed about. Not too long ago I thought I was going to die from the pain. But Hashem (God) and his shlichim (messengers) didn’t let me give up – and look where they brought me to today? Such a huge gift.
I guess I am big into symbolism, and I had to do what I needed to do for me to get through the last few years. Now I am ready to get on with my life, to find myself a worthy man, one who understands my journey and accepts it, but also one religious enough that he gets the symbolism of hair covering and would expect it of his wife.