Why do some married religious women cover their hair? Why only marrieds? Is this a law or a custom? In this episode of Uncovered, Rabbanit Nechama Goldman-Barash navigates the Halakhic history of laws that have traditionally shaped women’s dress and public conduct. Part 1 will discuss the origins and texture of the practice of head covering. Part 2 will focus on this practice in a modern context.
The series Uncovered looks at three major topics that often restrict women’s presence in traditional Jewish communities: Dress, Hair and Voice. The famous Talmudic statements that “the leg of a woman is nakedness”, “the voice of a woman is nakedness” and “the hair of a woman is nakedness” are often presented at face value but in fact, as the series will uncover, the Talmudic conversation is centered around the laws of saying Shema and do not reverberate outward into a greater conversation anywhere else in the Talmud with one fairly minor exception. However, those statements became the platform for modern halakhic and religious discourse on women, modesty and sexuality and can be perceived as empowering or suffocating depending on where and how the conversation is unpacked. Suffice to say, it is never a neutral conversation. In this series we will try to understand the larger picture before beginning to look at the rabbinic sources that structure the conversation.