Hijab and Judaism

Table of Contents

1)      Tanach(Jewish Bible): 

2)      Talmud(Oral Torah): 

3)      Halakhah(Jewish law): 

4)      Practice of Jewish women of Rabbinic Era: 

1)           Tanach(Jewish Bible):

According to Torah, The priest should uncover the accused woman’s head during the bitter water test for adultery. This shows that uncovering a woman’s head was a great disgrace to her

Torah>>Numbers>>Chapter:5>> Verse 18

Online Read: http://www.sefaria.org/Numbers.5.18?lang=en&with=all&lang2=en

Original Text: After he has made the woman stand before the LORD,the priest shall bare the woman’s head and place upon her hands the meal offering of remembrance, which is a meal offering of jealousy. And in the priest’s hands shall be the water of bitterness that induces the spell.

Famous Rabbi Rishi comments on this verse in his commentary.

Reference: Rishi commentary of Tanach>> Tanach>> Torah – The Pentateuch>> Book: Bamidbar – Numbers>> Chapter 5>> Verse 18>> Part 2

Online Read: http://www.sefaria.org/Rashi_on_Numbers.5.18.2?lang=en&with=all&lang2=en

Original Text: ופרע AND HE SHALL PUT IN DISORDER [THE WOMAN’S HAIR] — i.e. he pulls away her hair-plaits in order to make her look despicable. We may learn from this that as regards married Jewish women an uncovered head is a disgrace to them (Siphre).

2)           Talmud(Oral Torah):

Rabbis of Talmud considers it a violation of Jewish custom if a woman goes out with her hair uncovered.

Reference: Talmud>> Mishnah>> Seder Nashim>> Ketuboth>> Chapter 7>> Verse 6

Online Read: http://www.sefaria.org/Mishnah_Ketubot.7.6?lang=en

Original Text: The following women are divorced, and do not receive [the amount of] their ketubah: One who violates Mosaic Law or Jewish custom. …………What constitutes [a violation of] Jewish custom? [If] she goes out [in public] with her hair uncovered; [if] she spins [thread] in the market, and converses [flirtatiously] with any man. Abba Saul says, “Also one who curses his children in his presence.” Rabbi Tarfon says, “[Also] a noisy woman.” What constitutes a noisy woman? One who speaks in her own house [so loudly] that her neighbors can hear her voice.

Reference: Babylonian Talmud>> Seder Nashim>> Ketuboth>> Chapter 7>> Folio 72a-72b>> Verse 86(72a)-27(72b)

Online Read: http://www.sefaria.org/Ketubot.72a.86-72b.27?lang=en

Original Text: And what is Jewish practice? Going out with uncovered head. Going out with an uncovered head is a biblical transgression! As it is written, “And he shall uncover the woman’s head” (Numbers 5:18) and it was taught in he school of R. Ishmael: This [verse] is a warning to the daughters of Israel that they should not go out with uncovered head. From the Bible


it is quite sufficient [if her head is covered by] her work-basket; according to Jewish practice, she is forbidden [to go out uncovered] even with her basket [on her head]. R. Assi said in the name of R. Yohanan: With a basket [on her head a woman] is not guilty of [going about with] an uncovered head. R. Zera was puzzled by this statement: Where [is this woman assumed to be]? If she is in the marketplace, [this is forbidden by] Jewish practice. But [if she is] in a courtyard then such a law would not leave our father Abraham a [single] daughter who could remain with her husband! Abaye, or it might be said, R. Kahana, replied: [The statement refers to one who walks] from one courtyard into another by way of an alley. Spinning in the street. Rav Judah said in the name of Shmuel: [The prohibition applies only] where she exposed her arms to the public. R. Hisda said in the name of Abimi: [This applies only] where she spins rose [colored materials, and holds them up] to her face. Conversing with every man. Rav Judah said in the name of Shmuel: [This refers to one] who plays with young men. Rabbah b. Bar Hana related: I was once walking behind R. Ukba when I saw an Arab woman who was sitting, casting her spindle and spinning a rose [colored material which she held up] to her face. When she saw us she detached the spindle [from the thread], threw it down and said to me, “Young man, hand me my spindle.” R. Ukba made a statement about her. What was that statement? Rabina said: He called her “a woman spinning in the marketplace.” The rabbis said: He called her “one conversing with every man.”

3)           Halakhah(Jewish law):

Halakhah considers it a violation of Faith of moses if a women goes out with her head uncovered whether she is married or not.

Reference: Halakhah>> Rabam’s Mishneh Torah Translated by Eliyahu Touger>> Sefer Nashim(Women)>> Ishut(Marriage)>> Chapter 24>> Verse 11-13

Online Read: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/952899/jewish/Ishut-Chapter-Twenty-Four.htm#lt=primary

Original Text: 11 The following are the actions for which a woman is considered to have “violated the faith of Moses”:

  1. a) going out to the marketplace with her hair uncovered;25
  2. b) taking vows or oaths that she does not keep;
  3. c) engaging in sexual relations [with her husband] while in the niddah state;
  4. d) failing to separate challah or feeding her husband food that is forbidden to eat – needless to say, this applies to forbidden crawling animals and animals that were not ritually slaughtered; it applies even to produce that was not tithed.26

How can the latter [two] matters be known? For example, she said: “So and so, the priest, [separated tithes] from this produce for me,” “So and so separated challah [from this dough],” “So and so, the Sage, said this stain does not render me a niddah” – and after eating the food or engaging in sexual relations with her, the husband asked the person whose name was mentioned and he denied the occurrence of the incident. Another example: a woman’s [conduct caused] it to be established in her neighborhood that she was in the niddah state,27 but she told her husband that she was ritually pure. He engaged in relations with her [and afterwards discovered the truth].

12 What is meant by “the Jewish faith”? The customs of modesty that Jewish women practice. When a woman performs any of the following acts, she is considered to have violated the Jewish faith:

  1. a) she goes to the marketplace or a lane with openings at both ends without having her head [fully] covered – i.e., her hair is covered by a handkerchief, but not with a veil like all other women,28
  2. b) she spins [flax or wool] with a rose on her face29 – on her forehead or on her cheek – like immodest gentile women,
  3. c) she spins in the marketplace and shows her forearms to men;30
  4. d) she plays frivolously with young lads,
  5. e) she demands sexual intimacy from her husband in a loud voice until her neighbors hear her talking about their intimate affairs, or
  6. f) she curses her husband’s father in her husband’s presence.31

13 Ezra ordained that a woman should wear a belt32 in her home at all times, as an expression of modesty. If a woman does not wear [such a belt], however, she is not considered to have violated the faith of Moses, nor does she forfeit her ketubah.Similarly, if she goes from courtyard to courtyard without having her hair [fully] covered – as long as it is covered with a handkerchief, she is not considered to have violated the [Jewish] faith

Reference: Halakhah>> Rambam’s Mishneh Torah>> Seder Kedushah>> Chapter 21>> Verse 17

Read Online: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/960669/jewish/Issurei-Biah-Chapter-Twenty-One.htm#lt=primary

Original Text: Jewish women should not walk in the marketplace with uncovered hair. [This applies to] both unmarried49 and married women. Similarly, a woman should not walk in the street with her son following her. [This is] a decree, [enacted so that] her son not be abducted and she follow after him to bring him back and she be molested by wicked people who took hold of him as a caprice


4)           Practice of Jewish women of Rabbinic Era:

According to Rabbi Dr. Menachem M. Brayer (Professor of Biblical Literature at Yeshiva University) in his book ‘The Jewish woman in Rabbinic literature’,

 it was the custom of Jewish women to go out in public with a head covering which, sometimes, even covered the whole face leaving one eye free 

(Psychosocial Perspective, Hoboken, N.J: Ktav Publishing House, 1986, p. 239)

. He quotes some famous ancient Rabbis saying,

 “It is not like the daughters of Israel to walk out with heads uncovered”

 “Cursed be the man who lets the hair of his wife be seen….a woman who exposes her hair for self-adornment brings poverty.” 

Rabbinic law forbids the recitation of blessings or prayers in the presence of a bareheaded married woman since uncovering the woman’s hair is considered “nudity” (Ibid., pp. 316-317. Also see Swidler, op. cit., pp. 121-123). Dr. Brayer also mentions that 

“During the Tannaitic period the Jewish woman’s failure to cover her head was considered an affront to her modesty. When her head was uncovered she might be fined four hundred zuzim for this offense.”

 Dr. Brayer also explains that veil of the Jewish woman wasn’t always considered a sign of modesty. Sometimes, the veil symbolized a state of distinction and luxury rather than modesty. The veil personified the dignity and superiority of noble women. It, also, represented a woman’s inaccessibility as a sanctified possession of her husband (24. Ibid., p. 139).

Read online: https://goo.gl/XTwtah


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