Heinous or Harmless – Hair Covering and Dating

I have a friend “Roni” who was unfortunately widowed a while ago. She is the mother of young children trying to bring them up as grounded as possible, without a husband at her side. She has finally decided to take the plunge back into the dating world.

Roni is religious, and has continued to cover her hair (mostly with hats and scarves, occasionally a wig). She has spiritual and communal reasons to do so, and is not looking to change that. If she wanted, she could probably get a heter (rabbinical dispensation) to uncover, but she doesn’t want to, and is not interested in it at all.

She recently started dating a nice young man, someone who had never been married before. A man willing to take on her children and to follow a good solid marriage. A tall order!

But the hair covering thing is an issue for him. Officially, he says that he feels that this is a decision left to the woman he marries however on their first date he immediately asked Roni why she still covers, and was concerned that if someone he knew saw them, they would think he was out with a married woman. Roni tried to explain her feelings and conflict to him as best she could. She thought it was tabled.

In her words:

During our last conversation, we really shared a lot and I finally began to feel like we were becoming more comfortable with each other. I was getting high hopes for our third date, which would clearly be more relaxed and maybe help me sort out my feelings about him. Then at the end of the conversation, he asked me if I would consider not covering my hair while out on dates. I told him I needed to think about it, and maybe even consult a Rav.

But here’s the thing. I don’t want to go out in public with my head uncovered. I don’t feel like I am “there.” Also, I find inconsistency in observance due to circumstance to be inauthentic. I know women who don’t cover at work or on vacation and I have always felt it strange and didn’t get the rationale. But I don’t judge them because of how personal this issue is. It is a really hard Halachah for some, and I give them credit for what they are able to do. But to take a stance of I only cover [going to shul, doing carpool and getting groceries] or I don’t cover on dates, doesn’t sit well with me.

Roni asked me what she should do – she likes the guy. He is decent, there is some chemistry, he’d be a great male role model for her kids. But the fact that he asked her to uncover her hair when she is with him in public really poured cold water on the whole deal.

So dear readers, was this heinous or harmless on his part? What would you advise Roni to do?


94 responses to “Heinous or Harmless – Hair Covering and Dating

  1. It’s a definite problem. She should consult with a rabbi. But it may be best to wear a wig so natural only she’d know it’s on when dating.
    PS Hadassa, my son thought yours was natural hair.

  2. lady lock and load

    I think she should ask a Rabbi if she would be permitted to uncover her hair for a date. Most probably the man she is dating knows that there are those that would permit a widow or divorced woman to uncover her hair for dating purposes. Otherwise he would not ask her to do such a thing. seems like hair is a big issue for him (and other men). good luck

  3. I don’t think he did anything wrong, and he is clearly indicating he would like to see her again. His concern is a logical one, and not based in vanity or selfishness/ego. I think she should ask the sheila. I don’t see why she should be offended. She can say she simply doesn’t want to, and then it is up to him, but I don’t think that suggests he did something wrong.

    • I agree. I imagine that where he is coming from, it would be a big deal to be perceived as having been seen on a date or just hanging out with a married women alone. That’s the thing that always bothered me about this. If a widowed or divorced woman still has to cover her hair, she looks married and what does that do to her dating prospects. The only way people know is if she tells them or they knew her beforehand.

      I really think she should talk to a rabbi because she feels so strongly about it but I think she should talk to someone who is knowledgeable in this field and has talked to women about this issue before. Not just someone random. It is not easy to get a heter to uncover even for health issues or other things.

      Our community, like any, is prone to lashon hara and he’s aware of that. If this isn’t going anywhere, why should he risk his reputation by being seen with what people will perceive as a “married” women. It strikes me that she doesn’t seem to see his point-of-view at all. And she probably feels he can’t see hers at all. Makes me think it might not be the best match.

      • I agree. If each feels as strongly as the other about their position, this likely isn’t the right man for her regardless of his other wonderful attributes.

  4. What else will he have a problem with in the future?

  5. Some men are insecure. And some say that many men are insecure. So I’ll throw out some possible suggestions:

    1. The man in question is worried that by keeping her hair covered, she is indicating that it will be very difficult for her to “let go” of her deceased husband. And he is worried that this will affect their potential relationship.
    2. He doesn’t want people to think that he is dating a married woman.
    3. Perhaps he simply wants to see her, and interact with her in public, with her own hair before allowing the relationship to progress toward marriage.
    4. Maybe some well-meaning, but yenta-like, friends said something to him about it.

    • My first thought was what you listed as number one. I wouldn’t blame him for questioning whether she has let go of her deceased husband and if the hair covering is a sign that she hasn’t.

      • But that’s not what hair covering means to everyone. When a woman gets married – in my community – she begins lighting two Shabbos candles instead of just one. And she begins covering her hair. Because she’s in a different place in life, a different status. And if the marriage ends (for any reason), she doesn’t lose that status. Continuing to light two candles and cover her hair isn’t a sign of hanging on to the marriage or an inability to move forward. It’s a sign that she’s reached a certain place in life – even though in some cases that doesn’t mean “til death do they part.”

        • I understand that but it’s possible that he doesn’t and that he is concerned about her ability to move on. He might see it purely as a symbol of marriage and be concerned that she is still married in her heart.

          • Sounds like a great opportunity for communication, which will be vital if they are to approach the topic of marriage. 😉

  6. I think that a man, especially one who has never married cannot appreciate what the mitzvah of haircovering means to a woman. The emotions, possible struggles, sense of identity, sensitivity, everything that goes along with it. I just don’t think he’s considered the magnitude of what he’s asked of her.

    As a newlywed I once made a similar request of my chosson. Something he’s taken on that bugged me to no end, that was halachically permissible to stop doing, but it was hard for him to do and he resisted for a long time.

    Compromise, one side yielding, or the end, that’s how those situations have to go.

  7. Miriam Gottlieb

    She said she doesn’t want to go out in public with her hair uncovered so why is anyone saying she should get a heter? It is him putting his comfort above hers.
    I am against anyone asking anyone else to compromise their religious practices. I think it wasn’t an ok thing to ask.

    • I don’t think people are saying that. I think it’s very clear that she doesn’t understand where HE is coming from just as she feels she isn’t understood by him on this issue. I think they should talk to someone together about the issue if they feel strongly about continuing to date.

      Being seen with what people perceive as a married woman will affect him. Being seen with her hair uncovered will affect her tremendously, she feels, spiritually and otherwise. I think that this is an issue that WILL, indeed, come back even if she starts dating other people so she really is being tested to find out what she is or isn’t allowed to do and what she can live with or can’t live.

      It’s a tough issue but as someone brings up. There is compromise and when it’s hard to, I think you need to go together to someone to work out the issue. Someone more knowledgeable. As someone else mentioned, I know many couples who get torn about over perceived religious differences that are really about other issues altogether.

    • Remember, she did say to him at least that she was willing to talk to someone about this but again, I think he should do the same.

  8. I’m not sure I understand why everyone thinks this lady should go ahead and try to get a heter to give up covering her hair- especially if she doesn’t want to. Covering your hair, once ingrained isn’t about the “married status” and isn’t a mitzvah that is easy to throw off. To say that the guy isn’t being “selfish” (but that SHE is?) in asking her to take off her head covering is not, IMO, true. He IS worried about what others will think of him dating a “married woman”. Why is it anyone else’s business? Why is he insecure? Is it a control thing? What is his real reason for wanting her to go bare headed? I agree with Elayne- what will he have a problem with in the future? After they are married, would he influence her to give up other important mitzvot and use this as an excuse? Do they have a shadchan they could speak with?

    • Because people talk. Because we live in a community where there are a lot of yentas and your reputation is a big deal. Being seen or perceived as someone who is dating a “married woman” is a big deal. I don’t buy the insecurity or the control thing. I think they both need to speak to someone separately and together and she shouldn’t chuck them on this issue. It’s not him saying she should give up being Orthodox.

      And yes, it’s likely that he wants to see her hair before he marries her. This is unfortunately where women who were not divorced or widowed or don’t continue to cover their hair afterwards have an advantage in the dating world. I know women that are asked to straighten or color their hair for dating purposes to get a good shidduch. Maybe some of us are too far from the dating world to understand these things.

      They are both good people, obviously from just this little bit we know about them, but they want to be seen doing the right thing.

      • Miriam Gottlieb

        If they were to get to talking about marriage, then, he could ask to see her hair. Thats very different then be seen out in public with her hair uncovered while they are first starting to get to know each other.

        What if he was having dinner with his married, hair covering sister, or cousin, will he ask them to uncover lest people think they are dating? Or will they need to wear a sign?

        If people are going to yenta, they will find what to yenta about no matter what this woman does and if he is worried about yentas, he will always have something to worry that they will say.

        • Miriam – If they were to get to talking about marriage, then, he could ask to see her hair.

          Why would this be okay?

          You said earlier – I am against anyone asking anyone else to compromise their religious practices. I think it wasn’t an ok thing to ask.

          If the religious practice/principle is to not permit an unrelated male to see her hair (because it is erva), then why would it be okay in this case? Seems like a compromise of religious practice to me.

  9. I think that the guy has a right to feel the way he does & I agree that it’s worth it for her to ask a shaila b/c there are many women who are permitted to uncover their hair once they are no longer married & I wouldn’t discard a potential good match if that is the only issue that is causing a conflict.

  10. I don’t think he has a right to ask her to wear something different, to uncover her hair, or to dress differently. If you are dating, you deal with the person as they present themselves. Once you’re in a committed relationship you can make requests and suggestions.

    Hair covering is not that big of a deal and it sounds strange to me that someone would bring this up multiple times in just the first two dates.

    • Hair covering is a HUGE deal in the Orthodox community. Period. To say otherwise is to live under a rock, I think. I know people who have gotten married and engaged after less than two dates.

      • It may be a big deal to some people, but if what’s on her head is a bigger concern for him than finding out more about her goals and personality, then that says something about his character.

        Personally I would not want to marry someone who is so focused on appearances and what other people will think.

        • Me either. But as a public figure and a rabbi’s wife, I’ve been burned for not thinking twice about what other people think. In this community, you’re not the only one that gets hurt. Your family does, your friends do. It’s sad. But it’s an ugly reality we have to deal with. They have to decide together, if they plan to keep going together, how they will deal with this issue.

  11. Miriam Gottlieb

    Compromise is definitely necessary in any real relationship. It shouldn’t have to be necessary for date # 3.

  12. In the “shidduch market”, once a guy is seen publicly to be dating formerly married women, his “market value” goes down. Basically, once all the friends and neighbors (i.e. shadchanim) see him dating a previously married woman, they start suggesting (“redt”-ing) many of the other previously married women on their “list”.

    • Why is that a bad thing? Maybe one of those other previously married women is his bashert.

      • *I* don’t say it’s a “bad thing”, but perhaps the shidduch world does.

        [However, I do say that the whole shidduch system has some bad aspects, but that’s a different topic and we shouldn’t allow the conversation here to be derailed by it.]

        • I don’t think we’re derailing it. I think it’s part of the conversation already. As is “what people think” and the halakha around covering your hair after a divorce or being widowed.

    • Miriam Gottlieb

      Clearly he had a “low enough market value” to be dating a widow to begin with. I cant imagine that as a never been married guy, old enough to be dating someone with kids, this was the first formerly married woman who was ever suggested to him and that if she didnt cover her hair, she would have been the last. If he had that as a rewuirement he wouldnt have dated her in the first place. So I don’t buy this as justification. Sorry.

      • Too true. He should be specifying that if he dates widowed or divorced women, he only wants to date ones who no longer cover their hair. It sounds, quite clearly, that this is a deal breaker for her. But I still think she should discuss it with a rabbi, a Rebbetzin, a Yoetzet Halacha. Whatever. And people in her life. No matter what, we only have so many details.

  13. ADDITIONAL INFO JUST RECEIVED: Roni offered him that she would wear her very good expensive looks like real hair wig on their dates as a compromise, and he said NO. He’d prefer nothing.

    • I think this guy has a future in foreign policy negotiations.

    • It seems to me like their values are probably different on more than just the hair covering – this is just the first area of difference they’ve reached.

    • lady lock and load

      ahah, just as I suspected. The guy just wants to see her hair and was embarressed to communicate that to her. Hair is a big issue for many men and it is something that is important to them. This is an area that I think Rav Moshe Fienstien wrote about in Igros Moshe….that a woman can uncover her hair for dating purposes. Maybe they could date in a discreet location and he would be respectful of her that when they date in the neighborhood where others see her she can cover her hair.
      I am also wondering if they are on the same page in other areas of halacha and hashkofah.

      • LLL – I am also wondering if they are on the same page in other areas of halacha and hashkofah.

        The same page? I think a reasonably close page might be sufficient. It’s difficult enough to find a person to marry at a younger age (first time, etc), and it gets more and more difficult as you get older and have more life experiences (for example a previous marriage, having children, experiencing the death of a spouse, etc). So while looking for a an “exact” match halachically or hashkafically may be ideal, the real world often intrudes on the ideal world, and compromises must be made with regards to things like hashkafa.

        • Too true. Too true. Especially when “older” starts to mean anything upwards of 24.

        • Having been dating with kids – yes, there is a lot more difficulty, and a lot of pressure to settle for someone, rather than hold out for someone better or more suitable. If I had settled, I wouldn’t have the KoD in my life.

          • Please notice that I didn’t use the word “settle”, nor did I mean to suggest settle! My only point was that attempting to find an exact hashkafic match is difficult even under the ideal circumstances, and even more difficult with the circumstances being described here.

            Another example is someone who relaxes their location requirement, despite the great difficulties associated with doing that, when considering a potential spouse (the whole “GU” concept).

      • So, true. Men have broken up with me because I wouldn’t straighten my hair. Again, I said that matchmakers here in LA are telling girls pointblank to straighten if they want to get married and guys tell me they won’t marry a girl who has curly hair no matter how nice it is. Seriously? Most Jewish women I know have wavy or curly hair.

        Guys I dated were very up front about what they felt was more comfortable for them regarding how I covered or didn’t cover my hair (usually based on their family’s minhag or their community).

        It’s a third date. They’re already having communication issues. But I think how they deal with them together or separately will really make or break this situation.

    • That’s sad. Compromise is important. She’s following standard halacha, and he’s objecting. His loss, because who knows what other halachot he doesn’t like…

  14. Mark’s first two reasons are what I was thinking. Just think for a moment about the two major ‘reasons’ for covering are. On the one hand, it is a sign of being married, sort of like a wedding ring, proclaiming that this woman is spoken for. On the other hand it is meant to show modesty (as in I am not deliberately trying to turn you on). It’s been a long time since I dated but it seems to me that neither of these attitudes contribute to a healthy date atmosphere. It’s not, after all, a job interview.
    Maybe by ‘not being there’ this lady is just saying that maybe it’s not the right time yet.

    • Two points in response to this:

      1. While those are the reasons given for a married woman to cover her hair, it does not change the fact that it is Halachically PREFERRED that a widow keep her hair covered. This is because the modesty issue is tied into “Saiar b’Isha Ervah” That a married woman’s hair becomes ervah after she is married and remains so even if her status changes. This means that her hair should remain covered as all of the other “ervah” areas of her body. Should she start wearing tank tops and mini skirts because that is more conducive to attracting a man? Do all tznius rules go out the window? Yes, heterim are available, and but should one seek the “easy” way out or strive to be more observant.

      2. There is a HUGE difference between “holding on” to a deceased husband and marriage and respecting the relationship and history. I think widows have to walk a fine line on this one. If she was still wearing wedding rings – which are about a commitment to a person, or has her ketubah hanging on her wall, it is one thing. Keeping in line with Halachah – and her commitment to Hashem, is something else entirely.

  15. Heinous.

    I sympathize with the guy – he doesn’t want his friends to see him out with a “married woman.” Batya suggested she wear a sheitel. In my community, dating is considered private – and we always try to find a location in which we wont be seen by friends. This too might be an option for them.

    As Yonit Jen de Metz said, he probably doesn’t realize what he’s asked of her. Kisui rosh is an incredibly private mitzvah, and it’s not one that someone could easily cast off. Several posters have suggested that Ronit seek out a heter. Judaism isn’t about grabbing heterim when something isn’t convenient. Heterim exist because sometimes precisely the “bidieved” is what G-d wants from us. But I would be very wary advising Ronit to seek out a heter, especially when she has clearly stated that she is not comfortable A) uncovering her hair, or B) inconsistently approaching the mitzvah of kisui rosh.

    What should be done, practically? It seems from HSM’s recap of the situation that what really bothers the guy is the possibility of being seen out on a date with what looks like a “married woman.” If this is truly the case, I think it would be best for them to plan dates far away – or find other circumstances in which they wouldn’t be seen (though not too private so as to violate yichud).

    Also – it’s dan l’kaf zchus to assume that the guy doesn’t realize what he’s asking of HSM’s friend. If he does realize the magnitude of the request and still firmly issues the request – this would be a red flag as Elayne says above.

  16. I think she should sit in so there might not be forbidden 2 uncover. Let’s not make any of them bad people. We all have our things we get stuck on.

    • I agree. Let’s not paint either of these people as bad people and assume the best of both of them. I agree that it’s hard for men to understand this mitzvah. It’s nothing like wearing a kippah. I’ve talked to rabbis about it and I’ve found a Rebbetzin or a Yoetzet Halakha are really the only ones that can relate even if rabbis know the laws, they don’t know the realities unless they have seriously discussed it with their wives or congregants who have approached them on the issue. Rabbis I’ve spoken to will often say this is an issue they don’t feel comfortable discussing and refer you to other rabbis.

  17. Another suggestion is that she wear a fall

  18. What would you advise Roni to do?

    If she thinks she might like the guy, and wishes to continue seeing him, she should ask a rabbi, and try for a heter. Though normative OJ halacha says widows must cover their hair, there’s plenty of room to be lenient, especially in a dating situation. If the Rabbi says no, he says no, and that should be it. (And if Roni wants to stack the cards in her favor by going to a rabbi she knows will say no, that’s okay too; the point is she should show some willingness to meet the guy halfway, if she wants to see more of him)

    If she doesn’t want to pursue a relationship with this fellow, she should continue to play games and avoid compromises.

    What Roni should NOT do is attempt to read the guy’s mind or write him off on the basis off a perfectly reasonable request. If she wants to know what the man is thinking she should ASK HIM. Its likely he doesn’t know that halacha requires her to continue covering her head.

    This strikes me as a pretty simple problem that will become needlessly complicated via over analyzing it or viewing it emotionally. He just wants a look at his prospective wife’s hair, and doesn’t realize its against Jewish law. until he confirms some other theory, that’s what Roni – and all of you – should be assuming.

    • Very well written. Very well said. This sounds like primarily a breakdown of communication. As soon as the topic came up, both sides went into their respective caves and started making assumptions about the other person and jumping to conclusions. But this is something that needs to be talked out and again, something that I believe she will tackle with AGAIN and AGAIN in the dating world so it’s best that whether or not she decides to stick with this guy, she uses it as a learning opportunity on how to deal with future similar queries.

    • What would you advise Roni to do?

      I think she should invite him to dinner at her home one evening after the kids are asleep (or while they are at friends houses, depending on their ages). And I think she should have her hair uncovered during that dinner. That way, he can see what she looks like with her own hair. If he continues to insist that she uncover her hair in public, perhaps he is a bit too controlling on that issue, and perhaps the relationship isn’t really going anywhere.

      I don’t think it is reasonable to expect a man to first see his wife’s hair only after being married.

      • Maybe she should undress completely for him too.

        After all, if it’s not reasonable to expect him to wait to see her HAIR…

        Sorry for the snarkiness, but seriously people?!

        • Maybe she should undress completely for him too.

          I had guessed that someone would say that. But I don’t think it’s analogous. Hair is different because it isn’t inherent erva like other specific parts of the body, it only becomes erva (somehow) after getting married and [potentially] having relations for the first time.

  19. I think the request is fairly benign.

    More importantly I see a great opportunity for discussion about values, religion, compromise and the relationship.

  20. This is pure speculation, but I imagine that if he had been previously married to a woman who covered her hair this probably wouldn’t be an issue for him because he would be used to it. But from his perspective every time they are out together he can’t get over the feeling that he violating a social convention in which single men don’t have intimate private conversations with women who have their hair covered.

    Look, there is ample room to be meikil here, and that kula exists exactly for this kind of situation – covering her hair interferes with her ability to form relationships that could result in marriage. If she feels to uncomfortable to use it she will probably have better luck dating previously married men.

    Also, please put hair covering in perspective. Despite the propaganda it is not some huge positive commandment, a woman’s hair is not intrinsically erva, and a hat, tichel, or shaitle is not a cranial conduit between you and God. It is a mode of dress for married women that became codified into halakhah. She is no longer married, and it may be entirely appropriate to revert to having her hair uncovered – especially when dating.

  21. It’s neither heinous nor harmless. It’s personal preference. If she doesn’t want to uncover, she should also understand that he may not want to date her anymore. This just may be an issue where they each feel something is so important that they can’t compromise. I understand that, but she doesn’t have a right to future dates with him just because her desire to continue to cover her hair is reasonable.

    • I agree with this. She has to understand that if she insists on covering her hair, even though she could most certainly get a heter to uncover it, she is limiting her dating field, and the sort of guy she wants just might not be interested.

      If she really wants to remarry, she ought to consider compromising. I don’t think I’d marry someone if I didn’t see their hair uncovered first. That would very weird- marrying someone without knowing a big part of them.

  22. wow . this is a tough issue. i have heard of widowed or divorced women uncovering their hair just for dates, but i never quite understood it unless they had stopped covering their hair all of the time after their marriages were over. i would imagine that if someone usually kept their hair covered after their divorce that it would be odd to be seen in public with her hair uncovered if only for a date. i understand the guys point of view though. i’ve been to singles events where there were divorced women and i would always think that they were hosting the event instead of an attendee.
    i don’t know what the true answer should be. i suppose the point is that hair isn’t something people in western culture feel the need to cover for modesty, so when someone does it after divorce it could seem unnecessary to a perspective suitor especially if he was never married.
    i dont think that a woman who is previously married is any less eligible than a never married woman in the dating market. i just think that perhaps this guy isnt used to dating women who still cover their hair and uncovered hair is equal to ungloved hands in this culture .i dont think he is making this request to be difficult. if she hadn’t been married before he would see her hair before they would marry.

  23. I hope they work it out because if the 2 can’t understand where each one is coming from on such a simple communication issue, how much harder when things are less clear down the line?

  24. I can’t imagine what could be heinous about it. But I would be concerned if he pressures her to go against her gut feelings on an issue that it might be a clue into what life might be like when they are married and he feels more “ownership” (for lack of a better word!) of her. What might he ask her to do that compromises her beliefs then. That would be my only concern. To be honest I do see his point though.

  25. As someone who just uncovered after a 16-month marriage, I can say that Roni case is different: she was married longer and has children and according to Rav Moshe Feinstein (and most rabbis) she should continue to cover. Because she feels most comfortable doing so, I think that it was *incredibly* inappropriate of this fellow to ask her to uncover on their dates.

    Best way to fix it: Just wear wigs on your dates!

    • I think that it was *incredibly* inappropriate of this fellow to ask her to uncover on their dates.

      I agree that it is VERY inappropriate for him to ask her to change her mode of “dress” in public. It’s her body and her choice.

      Best way to fix it: Just wear wigs on your dates!

      Chaviva, see Hadassah’s comment at 5:51 pm with an update.

    • lady lock and load

      Chavivah, I am pretty sure that Rav Moshe Feinstien has a teshuvah in the Igros Moshe about allowing women to uncover their hair for dating purposes. Bli Neder I will look it up.

      • Indeed some authorities allow a woman to uncover her hair if she so wishes, while others do not. Either way it should be her decision! I know plenty of widowed and divorced women who did not uncover and were able to remarry.

  26. only one other male (i think) responded. so here is a second one: the guy feels weird dating a woman who covers her hair. there is no mitzvah (as in the top 613) in covering one’s hair. find a compromise, and find it quick. roni shouldn’t let this guy get away (life is hard enough). and the guy is saying ‘i want to continue, but this is a big obstacle’. he wants roni to stick around as well. compromise. some good suggestions above. but get off the high horse and realize that mitzvot were given to live by, not to find every chumra in the world to die by them…..

  27. While I respect the decision of you women who cover your hair as a choice, I think the whole practice is misogynistic. 100 years ago, masses of very religious women in shtetls had stopped covering their hair. The last few decades have seen a revival of this practice, and I think it’s a shame that progress was reversed.

    Yes, I recognize that there are halachic issues, and I’m not addressing that, other than to say that the halacha isn’t as clear as some make it out to be and that other halachot regarding dress have incorporated social considerations.

    I’m curious: of the women out there who cover your hair, or men whose wives cover their hair, how many of your mothers & grandmothers did so?

    While I do respect your right to cover your hair (and am very happy my wife chooses not to) what I don’t respect is men insisting their wives cover their hair.

    • BTW, though I feel strongly about what I just wrote, like I said, a woman has the right to her choice, and therefore the guy pushing her NOT to cover her hair is also wrong.

      • And based on Hadassah’s “additional info”, above, he seems to be pushing, not asking. No man has a right to insist a woman dress a certain way. That’s controlling.

    • If you “think the whole practice is misogynistic. 100 years ago, masses of very religious women in shtetls had stopped covering their hair. The last few decades have seen a revival of this practice, and I think it’s a shame that progress was reversed” then is kashering meat unnessary since there’s refrigeration?

  28. Could you get close enough to someone who never takes their coat off?
    I’m betting that it signifies to him (rightly or wrongly, consciously or subconsciously) that she’s not ready to become close to anyone else, because there’s always something in the way — he’s not seeing the real, vulnerable person underneath all the protection.

    • Really…covering one’s hair has nothing to do with that at all. It’s a mitzvah or a chumra depending on how you look at it, no different than chalav yisrael or socks/no socks for others. He has no right to demand that she reduce her Jewish observance at the level she is and feels comfortable with.

    • And just to give you some perspective here as a wig wearing married woman, I would feel naked without my head covering!!! I would not feel naked if I had to remove my coat but I would feel naked if I had to remove my wig/tichel. That is (also) why empathize with Roni so much.

  29. I really do feel that Roni should discuss this whole issue with a rabbi with whom she feels close & then make her decision about how to proceed. If Roni & the guy cannot come to an agreement, it just may pay to call it quits although in today’s crazy dating “jungle” I wouldn’t be so quick to discard a potential mate especially if they are compatible in many other important areas. One issue that needs to be addressed is whether or not the guy objects to Roni covering her hair after they get married (assuming the relationship progresses)… Either way I wish both Roni & the guy luck in finding their future mates!

  30. I sympathize with both of them in this conundrum. I know lots of very frum women in my city who are divorced or widowed and still wear sheitels at all times. For better or for worse, communities talk, so “most” people in the community already know these women are divorced or widowed, and it’s natural for them to be seeking shidduchim when they feel they are ready… so the people in the community don’t worry about it or lose their minds or get the gossip mill started when they see a woman in a sheitel in a restaurant on a date.

    On the practical end, one of my girlfriends switched from a sheitel to a 3/4 fall with a headband when she got divorced. It may not be for everyone, but worked for her!

  31. Perhaps for him, as a bachelor, the wig is really a barrier; her wearing it still identifies her as belonging to another man, as though she were still wearing a wedding band.

    He is not asking her to keep her hair uncovered after marriage, just while dating, and considering how she’s a single woman I don’t see how that is the problem.

    Is it possible her reluctance to take off the wig is more a security issue? She has been wearing it for years, and it is an item of protective clothing, like a skirt or shirt.

    If this guy is wonderful, and he is not asking for anything else unreasonable, I don’t think it is such a terrible request. Halachically, while I am not a rabbi, I don’t believe it is an issue. Maybe she can start gradually, like wearing a baseball cap with her hair sticking out, until she reaches a comfort range.

  32. Just because in some circles hair covering “isn’t done,” doesn’t mean that it’s just a fashion statement.
    A friend who got a heter to uncover her hair because of dating problems was told by the rabbi that it meant that even in shul she was not to cover her hair. It’s not a “part-time” heter.
    and PS, it didn’t help. She hasn’t found the right guy.

  33. Miriam Gottlieb

    There is something REALLY BIG everyone seems to be missing…. WHY WOULD A MARRIED WOMAN WHO IS CAREFUL TO COVER HER HAIR be DATING someone single in PUBLIC??????

    Anyone who thinks it bothers him because of what people might think should realize that anyone thinking this, JUST ISNT THINKING!

    Also, as for anyone who thinks its a communication issue, did you not read that she said she discussed it with him on their first date. She told him why and how, and according to HSM’s update, she even offered compromise. So what exactly isnt she communicating???

    Kisui Rosh is a tznius thing for those of us who do it. It is as non negotiable as wearing sleeveless and mini skirts. Uncovering in public is not something we do. To say that she should show him her hair as an exception but not her arms, chest, etc., doesn’t make any sense. She says specifically its not something she uncovers (just like the rest of her body).
    Why do you all seem to think this one is ok to uncover? Yes, if she wants to she can discuss it with a Rav but she states clearly she isnt comfortable uncovering it. Why should she have to feel overly exposed on any date, let alone date # 3 with a guy she barely knows? Isnt dating after a good marriage putting yourself out there enough?

  34. Heinous: And for reasons I didn’t see mentioned. If you are a religious Jew being sensitive to a widow should be a very high priority. It is highly emphasized in both the Chumash and the Torah she ba’al peh. It is certainly a more important halachic issue than whether a widow is or isn’t covering her hair on a date.

    I can understand why he might be a little uncomfortable, but too bad. The Torah clearly gives her feelings priority here, even though one can find a heter to uncover under the circumstances. If he is more concerned with what some gossip might say than about keeping the mitzvot of the Torah (and I am referring to his being considerate of a widow, not her hair covering here) he probably isn’t right for her. (Although of course i don’t know either of these people so that last comment should be taken for what it is worth.)

  35. If she is uncomfortable uncovering, even with a heter, she should not uncover. But if he is uncomfortable with dating a headcovering woman, for whatever reason, he is entitled to stop seeing her. She’s not “entitled” to keep dating him under her conditions. They should just part amicably. She’s uncomfortable uncovering, he’s uncomfortable dating her covered. It’s just not going to work out.

    Mike S., would you feel differently if she were divorced rather than widowed? There is no special mitzvah to be kind to a gerusha (is there?)

    I don’t like the way everyone is making judgments (although that was the point of the post, to judge actions either heinous or harmless). Why judge what’s going on in other people’s lives?

    But she is not entitled to anything in terms of future dates (and neither is he).

  36. Maybe I’m missing something here.

    He is uncomfortable dating a woman who is covering her hair on dates. For whatever reason.

    She is uncomfortable uncovering her hair to date. For whatever reason.

    Is his asking wrong? No.

    Is her deciding either way wrong? No.

    If she decides she is willing to uncover her hair to date him, they go forward.

    If he decides that he is willing to date a woman with covered hair to date her, they go forward.

    Otherwise, it wasn’t a shidduch, move on.

  37. Would I feel differently if she were divorced? Only a little. if she were divorced I would say he could ask once, and either accept her answer or decide it was a deal breaker, or decidedhe could raise the subject a second time after a few dates. For a widow, I would have said he shouldn’t have asked in the first place; his obligation is to go the extra step to ignore a minor hangup of his. frankly, I’d advise him to ignored for a divorcee also. Of course, she cannot demand that he date her or fall in love with her. But I think the halacha requires a little more with the widow. Every day in slichot we refer to God as “Dayan Almanot”–the Judge for widows.

    But in general, I think anyone dating ought to learn to distinguish his or her minor hangups from serious issues. Look, if he thinks her covering her hair as a widow is a sign she is too frum for him or some other clash of values, that is one thing. But if he just feels a little wierd being seen on a date with a woman whose hair is covered, that’s a minor hangup he should learn to ignore. And I have told my kids to ignore things like that too.

    And if he is really in a community where dating a widow marks him as damaged goods in the shidduch market, he either needs to reform his community or flee that den of iniquity.

  38. I can’t say I agree that it’s a minor hangup. Perhaps the hair covering is too much of a constant reminder that she was married before?

    I do know of widows who remarried, who then divorced rather quickly. I remember in one of those cases being surprised that the wife retained her email address that combined her maiden name with her first husband’s name. Maybe Roni’s date fears that she’s not over her loss, given her desire to remain covered despite the common practice of widows uncovering with a heter.

  39. If the issue is that he fears she is not sufficiently over her loss to be really ready to remarry that would be one thing. And a perfectly good reason not to continue dating her. However, if that is the case, having her remove her hair covering while on dates won’t fix that, so it doesn’t seem like that is a good reason to ask. Nor does it seem a very good way of probing whether she is ready to remarry.

  40. 1) this seems like an issue of hashkafa (life philosophy) – They shouldn’t try to change this on either side. Our most important relationship is with the One Who Created Us.
    2) if that is not the issue and he just wants to see what her hair looked like, show him a pic of what her hair looked like before she was married, like a h.s. graduation pic.
    3) If is the issue that she “looks” married, well, then a shaitel or band fall (or some other type of fake hair) should suffice, even if he has a general issue with shaitels. If he thinks its OK for her to uncover her hair (clearly he does, or he wouldn’t ask her to), then wearing a shaitel – even one that looks just like her real hair – should not be an issue for him. But, this gets me right back to #1, especially if she’s asked the shailah and she was told she needs to keep it covered.
    4) if he just wants to assert some control, then she should move on…and so should he. He might want to re-think the reasons why he hasn’t found his bashert yet…

  41. I thought most would vilify the guy as being controlling, demanding, etc.

    I mostly agree with Dave. He wants one thing, she doesn’t. No shidduch, move on.

    On a second date Roni opened herself up, explained her feelings, but the guy is hung up on something which is not the main thing.

    He knew she had been married and even if he knew that she covered her hair, he discovered that not seeing her hair really bothered him. It’s fine for him to want to see her hair but I think Roni shouldn’t compromise on this. They barely know each other, it was only a second date for goodness sake, and he’s asking her to do something which is hard for her.

    On a second date yo have no right to expect someone to do something differently, especially if it bothers them. A lot.

    It also concerns me that Roni says he’ll be a great role model. They’ve only been out twice! Wait till you know him until thinking that with any certainty.

    One also has to wonder what else will bother him. Roni would be wise to ask him to do something he’s not comfortable doing to see if it’s a one way street or if it’s obvious to him that just as he expected Roni to do something hard he will also do something hard for him.

    In short, to me it sounds a obvious case to end the shidduch if this one issue is so critical for him.

  42. Hadassah – Please give your readers an update at some point; we would like to know if they continued to see each other, resolved the issue, etc….


  43. I have asked Roni for an update. Will let you all know what happened as soon as I know.

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