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  • Family and Society

Shalom Bayis and covering hair


Rabbi Chaim Tabasky

21 Sivan 5767
Shalom Rabbis I find myself in a difficult situation. My wife and I have both become religious over the years- and are both from secular orthodox familes. As such, we have become shomrei shabbos, keep kosher and are observe the halachos as best we can. I study daf yomi and my wife teaches in a Yeshiva kindergarten. The problem is that while initially I was comfortable with my wife not covering her hair- I have become more uncomfortable with this over the years. However, my wife feels quite strongly on this issue and it would create a majoe issue in the house if I started to push for it (it would help if the school insisted on their teachers covering their hair, but the difficulty they have in attracting suitable qualified Jewish teachers means they are lenient on such issues). So the question is- considering the fact that halachicly she should cover her hair, do I broach the issue and the resulting issues or do I remain silent for the purposes of shalom bayis? Thanky you
Several issues are involved in your question. The first is the nature and severity of the requirement that women cover their hair. According to many Poskim, this is a Torah obligation that is not determined by local custom (Da'at Moshe) while others seem to place it in category which is effected by local custom (Da'at Yehudit). Most Poskim seem to rely on the second opinion in any situation where the issue threatens to undermine a marriage. That is to say, not only is one not obligated to divorce his wife over the matter, but one is not required to push the issue to the point that it will cause a problem of Shalom Bayit. Today, in many communities, many women find it difficult to reconcile hair covering with their self image and role in society. While these concern should not prempt Halachic observance, they certainly should be considered as real factors in human relations. I think that a husband has to impress upon himself the nature of the concern that women have about their own self image. At the same time it is important to express the desire to grow in religious commitment and observance. I suggest that at this time you place emphasis on other aspects of Jewish growth. May your marriage flourish with happiness and love. It is possible that at some point your wife will change her attitude, but it is more important that she respects your desire to grow, and she will not do so unless you respect the nature of her commitment as well.
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