Monday, May 18, 2009

The Culture of.....Sheitels

Imagine four young, attractive women sitting around a small room, chatting about their sig-oths, candidly revealing their latest gripes or raves about their careers, their friends, their in-laws, their lives, as another woman flits around ministering to them, working on each of them one at a time, chatting and drawing them out, laughing and joking.

A scene from Sex and the City?


The salon workroom at Shaindy the Sheitel Macher. Yes. Can't make this stuff up.

When I got married the first time, buying and styling my sheitel was extraordinarily stressful. I got used to the idea of covering my hair pretty quickly, but I was never sure of how it should look or fit or how much it should cost. I'm a little more relaxed now. I have more control over my money, sheitels have gotten much cheaper, and I am more aware of my sense of style. Having worn a sheitel for five years, and watched as my friends got either very good or very bad sheitels, I know what works and I know what doesn't. I can also tell within five minutes whether a shaitel stylist knows what the heck she is doing or whether she is snowing me.

So this time around, I've been taking my time dealing with the sheitel thing. I had two headband falls from the first marriage, one of which was salvageable and one which, sadly, has now been demoted to a hat fall (soon to be further demoted to a gemach donation). Shaindy miraculously managed to rework my old full sheitel into a much more modern look, and I bought a new one from her that is totally foxified. All the while she's been working on these, I've told her the saga of my marriage/remarriage (she's divorced and remarried too, though not to the same person), complained about my boss, shot the breeze about different business ideas, talked about my new community, old community, tried to fix up some single friends on blind dates, etc. She takes a break while working on me to nurse her baby, make us a cuppa joe, and do her own stretch of kvetching. My sister-in-law drops by with her own sheitel issues while we are there. Other women step in and out waiting for their appointments. We walk around with our hair showing, our shoes off, our jackets and purses piled up on the waiting room divan. We play Jewish geography, compliment each other on our shoes, complain about the economy, talk about books we are reading, classes we are attending, drink Shaindy's coffee, and just hang. And buy sheitels.

It's always girls' night at Shaindy's. And it's kinda nice.


Nice Jewish Guy said...

It's not just a culture of shaitels-- it's a culture of marrieds, by definition. And it must have felt nice to be one of the "in" crowd again, to be able to talk about your husband, to participate in a ritual that was once yours and then lost, and now is again. Enjoy it.

WebGirl said...

Yes, a culture of marrieds by definition, but a culture of married women specifically. And it's not really a culture I was a part of before. I never really enjoyed the whole sheitel experience.

frum single female said...

the sheital macher sounds like the frum woman's equivalent to a bartender!

WebGirl said...

fsf, that's exactly what it feels like!

Deborah Shaya said...

There is No codified Halacha that a married woman must cover her hair totally and constantly whenever she steps out of her house.

The Halachah has been MISinterpreted. When the Halachah refers to "Covering hair," it does not mean "Cover your hair with hair!" and "constantly for life." The Halachah is that:

A married woman is required to cover her hair when:

(1) she lights the candles to welcome in Shabbat and Yom Tov – lechavod Shabbat ve Yom Tov, and

(2) when she goes to the Synagogue, because that is the place of Kedusha.

The Halacha does not require anything more from married women. This is the true interpretation of the Halacha.

The misinterpretation of the Torah is completely Assur, and a twisting of the Torah.The Torah must remain straight.

WebGirl said...


Let me be very clear about this. I know a lot of fine frum married women who don't cover their hair. I eat in their homes, I daven with them at shul, I go bowling with them Saturday night. Clearly the area of hair covering is a gray one, with respect to how much hair must be covered and how it is to be covered. There is a tremendous amount of both das Moshe and das Yisroel involved, and certainly there is a blending of halacha and minhag. Because hair covering for married women is in this mushy area, I cut my friends a break, and don't think twice about their choice.

However, one thing is pretty certain. According to mainstream halacha, whichever way you slice it, married women are obligated in some sort of head covering. What this halacha actually looks like in practice is what's not black and white. And if you choose not to observe this halacha, well, you've made a choice. Long ago, I learned to respect Jewish choices that I would not necessarily make.

But you see, no one died and made me Chief Posek of the Universe. What you have said is just as insulting to me as if I would tell you that you are a sinner for not observing such a clear halacha. I think people who see the world in such black and white terms have some serious issues. And for you to just sweep in and tell me that I have misinterpreted halacha by keeping a mainstream observance is small-minded and insensitive of you.

Setting this aside, what on earth are you even basing this on? What gedolim who are experienced poseks and halachic experts are behind your interpretation of this law? You're just standing on a soapbox and telling me that most of the frum world is dead wrong based on ...what?

So please don't paskan for me or anyone else. It's arrogant and frankly, the way you frame it is rude.

Happy Chanukah,


Deborah Shaya said...

To WebGirl,

Shavua Tov to you.

I have provided the correct interpretation of the Halachah.

In ancient times, a woman would only cover her hair upon entering the Beit Hamikdash.Similarly for the Sotah-otherwise she would not be required to cover her hair ordinarily, day to day.

It is very important for people to know and realise that when a married woman covers her hair with 'Real Hair' the woman is covering herself with 100% Tumah. This is totally against the Torah.

Nothing could be more nonsensical than for a Jewish woman to cover her hair with someone else's hair -who was not Jewish as well!She can never fully be sure that this 'hair' has not come from meitim-despite any guarantee by the seller.This 'real hair' is doubly and in some circumstances, triply Tumah.

1.It will contain the leftover dead hair cells from another person - however much it has been treated, the tumah is still there.

2.This other person (likely to be a non-Jew who most likely was involved in some kind of Avodah Zarah) may have eaten bacon, ham, lobster etc, all of which are totally forbidden as unclean and non-kosher foods in Halacha.

3.If the woman happens to be the wife of a COHEN, then she is bringing her husband into close contact and proximity with meitim and Tumah Every day, and throughout their married life. This is clearly strictly against the Torah.

With kind regards.

WebGirl said...


You obviously didn't listen to a single word I just said and just continued to spout baseless, sourceless dogma so do me a favor? Don't read my blog anymore. Thanks.


William Dwek said...

The next things the "rabbis" will come up with is to tell the woman to wear a CARPET on her head. Not a sheitel AND a hat, but a Carpet. Or you could go for 5 shaitels on your heads and a rug.

And do you know what the Jewish woman will say to her husband?
"Yes, husband! I am now wearing a carpet on my head!"

You women must either be extremely thick, or petrified.

WebGirl said...


I am, once again, floored by the amount of halachic ignorance, misogyny and insensitivity out there. Thanks for reminding me.