Setting Up a Home —
The Kallah’s Preparation to Building a Home

.. In a Jewish household, the wife and mother, the akeres habayis, largely determines the structure and atmosphere of the entire home.

.. It is largely — and in many respects exclusively — her great task and privilege to provide her home with its truly Jewish atmosphere. She has been entrusted with, and is completely in charge of, the kashrus of the foods and beverages that come into her kitchen and on the dining table.

She has been given the privilege of ushering in the holy Shabbos by lighting the candles on Friday, in ample time before sunset.

Thus, she actually, as well as symbolically, brightens up her home and imbues it with peace and harmony and with the light of Torah and mitzvos.

It is largely in her merits that G‑d bestows the blessing of true happiness on her husband and children and the entire household.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated 18 Elul, 5735)

Continue Disseminating Torah and Chassidus

My hope is that your statement at the conclusion of your letter, to wit, that because of lack of time you have had to give up some of your activities, does not relate to your occupying yourself in strengthening and disseminating Torah. Included in the above are all your good deeds in the framework of N’shei U’Bnos Chabad.

Activities such as these are the proper preparations for a wedding and for building a home in Israel, an eternal edifice that is both materially and spiritually fortunate. May G‑d grant you success that you be able to convey glad tidings.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIX, p. 241)

Service of Prayer

The service of prayer is a proper, expected and valid preparation to marriage for a kallah. Moreover, since emotional feelings are more fully developed within women than within men, it follows that the service of prayer — service of the heart — applies to them to an even greater extent [than it does to men].

(Hisvaaduyos 5745, Vol. II, p. 1181)

Studying the Necessary Laws

With regard to the spiritual preparations to the wedding ... knowledge of the laws that relate and are dependent upon the kallah are understandably of greatest import, for “deed is above all else.”

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 87)

Mainly Dependent Upon the Wife

The [knowledge of the] laws and [the consequent] conduct with regard to married life, etc., are particularly germane to and dependent upon the woman, as it is she who guards, assures and observes family purity — and consequently, family sanctity. So heavily dependent is it on them, that it is they who affect [not only themselves, but also] their husbands in this regard.

(Hisvaaduyos 5745, Vol. II, p. 1181)


It is significant that the Shabbos portion ... enumerates a series of Divine blessings as a reward for following G‑d’s statutes and observing His mitzvos. These blessings reach their zenith in the Divine promise, “And I will make My sanctuary among you... and I will walk in your midst; I will be your G‑d, and you will be My people.”

While the condition for receiving G‑d’s blessing is stated at the beginning of the portion, namely, adherence to Torah and mitzvos, the high point and conclusion of the promised blessings alludes to the basic tenets of kedushah, (sanctity), taharah (purity), and tznius (modesty) in Jewish life.

For kedushah, taharah and tznius are the foundations of the indwelling of the Sanctuary and Shechinah among Jews in general, and within every Jew, man and woman, in particular.

The sanctity of the “camp,” the Jewish home, and of Jewish conduct, is clearly emphasized elsewhere in the Torah, namely: “Your camp (at home and outside the home) shall be holy, that He not see in you any immorality and turn away from you.”1

Our Sages explain that tznius and kedushah must be observed in every aspect of Jewish life, including speech and thought, and certainly in dress and general conduct.

In this area, especially, as in certain other areas of Jewish life, the Jewish woman and daughter set the tone and standard, as experience has shown.

Our Sages often stressed that the future life and happiness of [husband, wife and] children is largely related to the tzniusdik conduct of the mother.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VII, pp. 360-361)

Tznius and the High Priesthood

The Midrash2 on this week’s Torah portion of Vayechi states that the reward for the spiritual service of Asher is that “he shall produce [wearers of] the eight [priestly] garments.”

Thus Rashi, in his second comment on the verse3 “Let him be acceptable to his brothers,” states that the “daughters of the tribe of Asher were beautiful and married to High Priests who wore eight priestly garments.”

What is the connection between “beautiful daughters” and High Priests? Obviously, in the present context we must say that the beauty of which we speak is spiritual, something that is indeed related to the High Priesthood.

G‑d says4 of the woman, “I will make a helpmate for him,” i.e., a helpmate for man in his spiritual service.

This was most apparent in the instance of the High Priest, whose service on Yom Kippur in the Holy of Holies required that he be married and “atone for himself, and for his ‘house,’”5 which our Sages explain6 to mean the High Priest’s wife. Having a wife was crucial to the High Priest’s service: without a wife, the High Priest was not permitted to perform his service.

The true beauty of the Jewish woman, the concept of “The entire glory of the king’s daughter is within,”7 i.e., the concept of tznius, leads to and assists the high-priestly office.8 It is achieved by virtue of the service of kabbalas ol, acceptance of the Divine yoke.

When a person’s conduct is based on kabbalas ol, in accordance with the Shulchan Aruch — which includes the principle of tznius — then one merits to establish a generation of righteous children: one will be blessed with children and grandchildren who occupy themselves with Torah and mitzvos, verily High Priests.

What is meant by “children who become High Priests”?

The High Priest enters the Holy of Holies, the space that contains just the Holy Ark and the Tablets upon which the Ten Commandments are engraved.

The Ten Commandments were not inscribed with ink, a substance distinct from and added to parchment, but engraved upon the tablets — signifying absolute unity.

Thus, “children who become High Priests” means children who — like the High Priest — become absolutely one with Torah and with G‑d.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. I, pp. 109-110)

The Positive Effects of Tznius Even on the Unborn

Torah, the “Torah of Truth,” declares that as soon as a baby is born it is affected by all that transpires around it. Surely, the conduct of the infant’s parents has a profound impact on the child, even when it is extremely young.

Moreover, even the conduct of the parents during the nine months that precede the infant’s birth have a profound influence on the child.

Thus the Gemara9 relates that “Kimchis had seven sons, all of whom merited to serve as Kohanim Gedolim (High Priests). The Sages asked her, ‘What have you done to merit this?’ She answered them: ‘The rafters of my house have never seen the plaits of my hair.’”

In other words, her profound conduct of tznius — to the extent that even when she was alone in the house “the rafters of her house never saw the plaits of her hair” — affected her sons to such an extent that they all merited to become Kohanim Gedolim.

Her behavior thus had an effect many, many years after she conducted herself in this manner — after her children had already become bar mitzvah and after they had reached the age of twenty, when they became fit to become Kohanim Gedolim.

Moreover, her conduct also had an influence on her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, for the son of a Kohen Gadol inherits his father’s position.

Since this tale is related to us by the Oral Torah, it follows that this is not just a story of something that transpired in the past, for “that which has passed is past.” Rather, it comes to teach every Jewish daughter how much she is to scrupulously observe tznius, even when there is no one else in the house, etc.

(The reason for this is: Since repeatedly acting in a certain manner causes it to become second nature, it is possible to forget oneself and act in this manner even when someone else is in the house, etc.)

By behaving in this ultimate manner of tznius, one affects for the good one’s children and grandchildren, as we glean from the above tale of the Gemara.

(Hisvaaduyos 5742, pp. 2190-2191)

The Blessings Received for Strengthening Tznius

The Gemara and Zohar elaborate in many places that strengthening one’s conduct of tznius is an infallible way to be blessed with good health, sustenance, and much nachas — true nachas — from children and grandchildren.

This depends on each and every one of you: that you yourselves act in this manner, and see that your good friends, relatives and acquaintances become aware of the great potential that they possess [to act in a like manner], and the blessings that such behavior brings with it.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 204)

The Effects of Tznius on One’s Children

Tznius — the concept of “The entire glory of the king’s daughter is within”10 — is one of the most crucial factors in a woman’s conduct, something that has a powerful effect on her sons and daughters.

Thus we find in the Gemara11 the following regarding the reward for the tremendous degree of tznius practiced by Kimchis: “Kimchis had seven sons, all of whom merited to serve as Kohanim Gedolim, High Priests. The Sages asked her, ‘What have you done to merit this?’ She answered them: ‘The rafters of my house have never seen the plaits of my hair.’”

One should not think: Must I act with such a tremendous degree of tznius that my children will become Kohanim Gedolim? Why should I care if my children grow up to be only regular priests? Furthermore, all Jews are intrinsically holy!

Herein is the lesson from the lighting of the Menorah, which was to be done specifically in the Beis HaMikdash. This teaches us that, if at all possible, we are to increase the amount of illumination even in those places that are already most holy.

Here as well: If a woman is granted the ability to train her sons that they grow into Kohanim Gedolim, [i.e., that they achieve the maximum of their spiritual potential,] it indicates that this is her task; should she not do this, she is not carrying out her obligation and is not fulfilling G‑d’s desire.

(Sichos Kodesh 5717, pp. 337-338)

Tznius Regarding One’s Place of Dwelling

You ask my opinion about living after the wedding in a room that you have in the courtyard, where the kitchen is found outside and distant from your room, and your kallah feels that this is not in a manner of tznius:

In matters such as these, and in light of the verse “The entire glory of a king’s daughter is within,” it is important to consider her opinion and seek a more appropriate dwelling.

He who provides for all other expenses will surely provide for this expense as well, particularly so, as you are doing this in order to fulfill His will regarding tznius — surely as tznius applies to a “daughter of Israel.”

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IX, p. 184)

Tznius — At All Times and in All Places

.. The evil inclination may still offer the following lure: True, he says, tznius must be observed with regard to permanent and abiding conduct, but with regard to temporary conduct it is not necessary to be so stringent with regard to tznius, to treat all aspects of tznius in the same critical manner.

Herein comes the lesson from the verse “How goodly are your tents, O Yaakov,”12 concerning which our Sages comment:13 “He saw that their doorways were not facing one another” — even in temporary tent dwellings and in temporary situations, we are to scrupulously observe the same degree of tznius as in a permanent situation.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIII, p. 84)

Kisui HaRosh — Hair Covering

Assuring Proper Hair Covering

Regarding the engagement of ..., surely you and your wife will exert your influence on ... that she establish her home upon the foundations of Torah and mitzvos, as they are illumined by the luminary of Torah — Toras HaChassidus.

Among the matters that are to be assured prior to the marriage is the kallah’s agreement to wear a sheitel. I am quite sure that the chassan will not only not hinder her wearing a sheitel, but on the contrary, will assist in this matter and be satisfied that she does so.

The necessity of a sheitel surely is not in need of explanation, particularly as we readily observe that young women who fulfill their obligation of kisui harosh with a scarf or kerchief, do so for only a short period of time.

This is in addition to the fact that even during this brief period of time, they commonly breach and violate this matter.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 92)

A Perplexing Question

.. You ask my opinion regarding kisui harosh. I was perplexed by the very question as this is an explicit law in Shulchan Aruch14 and there is no room for any questions or doubt. I am particularly perplexed by the manner in which you present your question:

You state that the kallah will wear a sheitel in a manner that all the hair will be covered except for “‘two fingers’ in front” that will remain revealed.

I’m not sure whom you are trying to fool. One cannot fool G‑d and one cannot even fool the entire world — one can only fool oneself. What possible benefit can be derived from this?

I am sure that with due diligence and repeatedly discussing this issue with a kindly approach you will be able to influence the kallah that she conduct herself with regard to kisui harosh in the appropriate manner.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IX, p. 325)

Law and Not Merely Custom

In response to your question, quoting your words, about “the problem of kisui harosh, and what this custom is based upon”:

It is an explicit law14 — and not only a custom — of the Torah that a (married) woman is to cover her hair, kisui harosh. Moreover, from the great reward received for performing this law, one can apprehend that there is great import to fulfilling this law....

As the Zohar states15 in Parshas Nasso, [quoted in Mishnah Berurah, Laws of Kerias Shema, Chapter 75) and I choose to quote only the blessings mentioned there, omitting the negative aspects resulting from failure to comply with this law:

“Her children will enjoy increased stature over other children; moreover, her husband shall be blessed with all blessings, blessings of above and blessings of below, with wealth, with children and grandchildren, etc.”

I would also add to the above that it boggles the mind that this should be a “problem” for anyone who has a spark of faith in her heart and desires that her married life be truly fortunate and blessed — these blessings and good fortune extending to the husband and wife as well as the future children that G‑d will bless them with.

Can there be any comparison whatsoever of the unpleasantness (even if you wish to say that there is unpleasantness) that exists in kisui harosh in comparison to G‑d’s blessings, the blessings of He who formed man and created and conducts the world?!

Such an attitude is exceedingly irreverent, even if there were to be but a scintilla of doubt about the necessity of this requirement, and how much more so when this matter [of kisui harosh] is stated explicitly.

It is self-understood that I am aware of the objection to the above, to the effect that there are many who do not observe this law. But this question already exists for thousands of years, for “Jews are a minority among the nations,” and “our laws differ from all other nations.”

Consequently, it is unfortunate but true that within the Jewishpeople there were and still are individuals who for the time being publicly desecrate the Shabbos and even intermarry, Heaven forfend.

Surely this does not at all affect in the very least, G‑d forbid, the vital aspects of our Torah, the Torah of Life and its mitzvos, concerning which Scripture states, “You shall live by them,” just as the making of the Golden Calf in its time (close to the time of receiving the Torah) did not diminish one iota from the importance of the Ten Commandments, and subsequently the entire Torah and all its commandments up to the present day.

Finding ourselves just several days before Purim — objections such as the above [that “our laws differ from all other nations,” etc.] was the complaint of Haman, whose conclusion was not only the spiritual destruction of the Jewishpeople, but “to annihilate all the Jewishpeople, from young to old, children and women.”

For the existence of the Jewishpeople in all places is exclusively through performance of the Torah and its mitzvos, that were given by the One G‑d to the “one nation on earth.”

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIII, pp. 345-346)

Why Cover the Hair?

In response to your letter of the 13th of Iyar in which you ask how one is to explain the necessity of kisui harosh (for a married woman).

One wonders at the very question, especially since we now find ourselves in the days of preparation for receiving the Torah, which was only received by the Jewishpeople through their prefacing “we will do” to “we will hear.”

And as in the well-known section of tractate Shabbos,16 where the Sadducee asked: How is it that they did not first desire to understand? The response to this was the verse, “The simplicity of the upright shall guide them,” (“but of the others, etc.”).

Known as well is the allusion of the text,17 “He should accept upon himself the yoke of Heaven ... the yoke of mitzvos.” It is only that G‑d in His goodness and kindness enabled us to understand some infinitesimal aspect of the reasons for the mitzvos.

Even then, one is to perform mitzvos out of a sense of accepting the yoke of Heaven, not because his limited mind, the mind of a created being, understands the reason for the commands of the Creator who is infinitely removed from him.

It is self-understood and plain that man’s belief in G‑d forces him to intellectually accept G‑d’s commandments without seeking reasons for them in human intellect. For even simple common sense, if it is but healthy and sound, understands that it is impossible for a finite being to comprehend the infinite.

Indeed, it is a principle of faith among all the Jewishpeople, “believers, children of believers,” that G‑d and His understanding and will are truly one and infinite, while man is finite in all aspects of his being.

In addition to the above, when one takes into account the explicit reward received for kisui harosh (see at length in the sacred Zohar III, p. 126a), then even if one were to be extremely doubtful of this, G‑d forbid, it would still be worth covering the hair.

This is most assuredly so, as the words of the Zohar — as part of our Torah of Truth — are completely true, perpetual and everlasting in all places and all times.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIII, pp. 102-103)

Overcoming Imaginary Difficulties Regarding Kisui HaRosh

With regard to your writing about covering your hair — there is absolutely no question regarding [the vital importance of] this matter:

Since G‑d clearly said that for the benefit ofthe wife, her husband, and their childrenher hair should not be revealed, surely it is so. Thus it is impossible that by keeping G‑d’s commandments your head should hurt, etc.

For example, when you write that wearing a sheitel makes your head hurt, it is possible that:

a) This is a falsehood of the evil inclination who does not want mitzvos to be performed and does not want Jews to be showered with blessings.

b) If this is indeed true — then this demonstrates that [your hair is too long and] you should cut it so that it be shorter. When you do so, your head surely won’t hurt when wearing a sheitel.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXIII, p. 264)

Convincing Others To Practice Kisui HaRosh

You write that you tried to speak to the person about covering her hair with a kerchief [but you were not successful] and you did not want to apply force or make a commotion.

[You were correct in doing so,] for Heaven forfend, Heaven forfend [to act in too forceful a manner], for the path to success is not through anger but through gentleness. Merely explain that kisui harosh brings with it success from G‑d’s hand for herself, her husband and her children sheyichyu.

This being so, what possible comparison can there be between the difficulty (even if this were to be considered a difficulty) in wearing a kerchief in relation to what G‑d rewards for doing so.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, pp. 117-118)

Kisui HaRosh as a Segulah For Bearing Children

In response to your letter of the 23rd of Iyar, in which you ask my advice regarding your brother having male children, and healthy children:

.. You should also find out from your brother whether his wife is careful to observe kisui harosh. For the Zoharic statement is known that a woman’s observance of tznius and especially Kisui HaRosh brings about “blessings of above and blessings of below, with wealth, with children and grandchildren, etc.”

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VII, p. 259)

Kisui HaRosh as a Segulah For Sustenance

Parenthetically — you mention the difficulty of earning a living after writing about [a lack of] kisui harosh:

Why the surprise at your financial straits when the holy Zohar (III, p. 126a) explains that when kisui harosh of the wife is as it should be, then “they shall be blessed with all blessings, blessings of above and blessings of below, with wealth, with children and grandchildren, etc.”

And our Torah is a Torah of Lifeinstructing us how to live our lives, even on a daily basis.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIX, pp. 326-327)

Not Permitting Kisui HaRosh Is the Height of Irresponsibility

Should one say that it is impossible for him to concede that his wife observe kisui harosh with a kerchief or a sheitel, and he cares not that by doing so he is jeopardizing his fortune as well as the fortune of his life-partner, then this person lacks any feeling of responsibility, duty and obligation.

Nor does this person possess the proper measure of understanding and knowledge of what a shared life means, and to what extent it is advisable to forego even more important matters, as long as it leads to a united, fortunate and happy life.

And as stated above, such a life is impossible to achieve for a Jewish man and woman unless it is lived in accordance with the Torah and mitzvos.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IX, p. 112)

Drawing Down Sustenance

In a pleasant and diplomatic manner (b’darkei shalom), tell your husband sheyichyeh (in my name) that it is explicitly stated in the Zohar that a wife’s covering her hair is a segulah to draw down sustenance for the entire household.

(From a handwritten response of the Rebbe)18

Wearing a Sheitel

The Importance of a Sheitel

Wearing a sheitel has a beneficial impact on children and grandchildren, sustenance and health, as the Zohar states (III, p. 126a) that it has an effect on children, health, and sustenance.

One should not ask: I know of a woman who does not wear a sheitel and still things go well for her regarding children, health, and sustenance, as well as life in general.

First of all, we do not know what transpires in the life of another, what type of travails he or she is undergoing; no one tells the other about all that takes place in one’s life. Second of all, we are not to look at what is transpiring with others; we are to do that which G‑d commanded us to do.

(The Rebbe mentioned here that “we are a minority among the nations.” Should we also draw the corollary that since there are more gentiles than Jews in this world, and things are going well for them, that we are to imitate their ways? Were we to act in such a manner, the Jewishpeople would have ceased to exist, G‑d forbid, a long time ago.)

When a Jewish woman walks in the street without a sheitel, there is no (discernible) difference between her and others. However, when she wears a sheitel, one can tell that here is a Jewish religious woman.

It is not necessary to go in the streets loudly proclaiming, “I am religious” — but ... [in front of] whom is one embarrassed? One’s friend? Were they to say that this is a religious Jew — what is the shame of the matter?!

Does such conduct require much mesirus nefesh? If, Heaven forfend, there is a lack of food to eat, the children are hungry, and it is necessary to keep Shabbos in one’s labor and business — this requires great mesirus nefesh. And still, without a doubt, Shabbos is kept.

When one goes, for example, to a doctor, one does not understand why he prescribes a particular medicine, but he is believed and relied upon.

Or if an infant is not digesting its milk and a doctor changes the formula, will the mother whose child is lying in the cradle say that she will wait until she attends five years of university so that she understands the doctor’s reasoning, and only then follow his advice?

There was a university student who came to me and said that he does not put on tefillin or wear tzitzis because he does not understand why he should do so.

The reason for opposing a sheitel is that one does not understand intellectually the need for it. Why not simply rely on G‑d?

When one is asked to give a dollar and is promised a hundred thousand dollars in its stead, one readily does so even when one doubts that he will receive the [promised] hundred thousand dollars.

The difference between a sheitel and a kerchief is the following: It is easy to take off a kerchief, which is not the case with a sheitel.

When one is at a gathering and wears a sheitel, then even if the President were to enter the room she would not take off the sheitel. This is not so with a kerchief which can easily be removed.

The objection that wearing a sheitel was not made a condition of the match prior to the wedding is not at all convincing. Does wearing a sheitel have anything to do with keeping one’s word? It should be worn because it brings true good fortune to the husband, the wife, to children and grandchildren.

In the past, the custom was to cut off the hair. Later on the custom spread to wearing a sheitel. Wearing a sheitel is especially appropriate now, when one can obtain a sheitel in various shades, which looks even nicer than one’s own hair.

Let the woman ponder this matter. It doesn’t take an hour or even a half-hour of contemplation. Why doesn’t she really want to wear a sheitel but only a kerchief?

Because she knows that a sheitel cannot be taken off when she is walking in the street or is at a gathering, while a kerchief can be moved all the way up and sometimes taken off entirely, as known from practice.

It is possible that she will say that she will wear a kerchief properly. If she does so, then surely it is well. But experience has shown that this is not the case.

Why place oneself in the path of temptation? We beseech G‑d prior to our prayers, “Do not bring us to temptation.” Who is greater than King David concerning whom the Gemara states that he completely vanquished his evil inclination, and nevertheless he did not withstand a test.19

Even the reformers do not say that a sheitel contradicts ethics, only that it is old-fashioned. What then is there to fear? Let it be said that here goes a Jewish daughter.

My father-in-law related that the city of Frankfurt had very religious Jews — their piety made a name for them over all of Germany. This is so, notwithstanding the fact that previously Frankfurt was filled with freethinkers.

All this came about in the merit of three women who were firm in their resolve to wear a sheitel, observe family purity and provide their children with a kosher education. This had an effect on the men and other women of the community. In time, the community of Frankfurt changed for the better.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIII, p. 188ff.)

A Sheitel Helps Assure a Chassidic Home

In response to your request for a blessing that it should be a “Chassidic home,” surely you on your part are doing whatever you can to affect her in this spirit.

Wearing a sheitel is of primary importance to the fundament of the entire home, as this is something which is perceived by all. This is especially so, as I have heard that there has begun to be some laxity in this matter, i.e., with regard to wearing a sheitel. Thus it is of the greatest import that one be tenacious about this matter — that it is impossible otherwise.

Surely, your desire [to have a Chassidic home] will assist you in finding the right words so that you succeed in bringing this about.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 232)

Purpose of a Sheitel

In response to your letter in which you write that you are not clear about the purpose of wearing a sheitel:

The purpose of a sheitel is that the hair be completely covered — if only a portion of the hair is covered then it does not accomplish this purpose.

You should also see to it that others act in a like manner, explaining to them that this is the path and segulah to health, sustenance and true nachas from children.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 217)

“Old Fashioned”?

With reference to your question concerning a sheitel — you write that you object to it on the grounds that it is old-fashioned, etc.

Let me first say that one does not approach matters of Torah and mitzvos from the perspective of whether or not they are considered old-fashioned or new-fashioned. We observe Torah and mitzvos because they are directives from the Creator of the world and of man.

It is self-understood that the Creator knows what is best for man and He desires for man to be happy — not only in the World to Come but also in the here and now. This is why Torah is called Toras Chayim, a Torah of Life, which is to say that it is a guide to a good and satisfying life on earth.

Specifically on the question of a sheitel, let me quote here the words of the holy Zohar (III, p. 126a) which are quoted in Mishnah Berurah, and I will quote only the positive results [that accrue from wearing a sheitel] mentioned there, omitting the negative aspects [that result from not wearing a proper head covering]:

“Her children will be superior ... her husband will be blessed with spiritual and material blessings, with wealth, children and children’s children.”

Considering the great reward that is promised to the woman and mother who wears a sheitel, it surely is worthwhile to wear it, even if doing so involves serious difficulties and conflicts.

How much more so when the objection to it is — as you write — only because it is “old fashioned.” This is neither a real nor a valid objection, but merely based on the “opinion” of others.

Let me also add that even considering the general attitude towards this and other mitzvos, there has been a radical change in recent years; one of respect and admiration for people who are consistent and live up to their convictions and ideals, and are not influenced by the mob.

There may always be some individual who might make a joke about a person’s convictions, but where a person is sincerely dedicated to his faith, such a person can only call forth respect and admiration.

Furthermore, if you will eventually settle in a Jewish Orthodox neighborhood, you will find that other young women will wish to emulate your good example, and thus you will have the additional merit of being instrumental in influencing others in the right way.

The reverse is also true, for a Jew must always consider how his or her conduct affects others. This should be an additional consideration why you should overcome your superficial objection to wearing a sheitel.

It is no less important to bear in mind that marriage is called “an everlasting edifice,” meaning that it is an everlasting institution, one that is of vital importance not only to husband and wife, but also to future generations.

Every parent desires to ensure the happiness of his or her children and will do everything possible to guarantee that this happiness comes about.

Of course, you might point to this or that individual who does not wear a sheitel. However, it is surely unnecessary to point out that each person may have her own particular weakness.

If one is to follow the principle “Who is wise? He who learns from every person,” one will be wise to learn only from the person’s strong and positive qualities and not from his weak ones.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, Chanukah 5721)

A Sheitel and Not (Only) A Kerchief, Shawl, or Hat

[This is] in response to your letter where you write about a sheitel — that in the religious community where you now live this is not the custom. Consequently you are embarrassed that they may laugh at you if you wear a sheitel:

The general concept of wearing a sheitel and not making do with a hat or kerchief is explained in many places. We readily observe that wearing a hat or even a kerchief leaves part of the hair uncovered, at least for a short while, i.e., causing one to transgress a major prohibition, as explained in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, Chapter 75.

The importance of having one’s hair covered at all times is also understood from the reward that results from fulfilling this command in the manner commanded.

In the words of the holy Zohar, it causes us to be “blessed with all blessings, blessings of above and blessings of below, with wealth, with children and grandchildren.”

As regards to your writing that they may laugh at you and you will be embarrassed, and the like:

Recently, even American youth have begun to honor and respect specifically those who stand firm in their faith. They do not feel embarrassed by those who scoff at them and their world outlook. To the contrary, they respond with scorn and derision to those who simply follow the majority without having any principles of their own.

Surely you are aware that the entire four-part Shulchan Aruch opens with the statement that one should not be embarrassed by those people who scoff at one’s service of G‑d.

Moreover — and this too is quite simple and very understandable: “G‑d fills heaven and earth,” and man finds himself in His presence in all places and at all times. This is not so with regard to people; even those who live in close proximity are not always nearby. How can one not be embarrassed, Heaven forfend, before G‑d, and be embarrassed by mere mortals!

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIX, p. 428)

The Constant Test of a Kerchief

In response to your letter in which you write about kisui harosh:

I have already stated my opinion on many occasions, that in present times covering one’s hair with a kerchief will not endure [and eventually the person will cease covering her hair].

The reason for this is that when wearing a kerchief, the woman is constantly put to the test — whether to cover all her hair, or just part of it, etc., so that she not be embarrassed by those who indeed scoff [at her covering her hair], (although quite often this feeling [that people are ridiculing her] may merely be a figment of her imagination).

This is not at all the case with a sheitel; it is impossible to remove the sheitel when one is at a gathering and the like. This is especially so since, as you write, both of you are in agreement that she will cut her hair. This then, [wearing a sheitel,] is the best possible way [of observing kisui harosh].

As to her wearing an exposed sheitel, [i.e., a sheitel that has no covering — for instance, a hat over it] — for the past several generations this practice [of only wearing a sheitel without any other additional head covering] has become widely accepted.

Understandably, however, it is necessary to ascertain the custom in your place, [i.e., whether in that place they are particular about wearing an exposed sheitel] — so as to ensure that this does not constitute breaking a precedent, G‑d forbid.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVI, pp. 330-331)

A Hat on Top of the Sheitel Can Lead
To a Mistaken Conclusion

It is related that the Rebbe told an individual during Yechidus:

When a woman places a hat on top of her sheitel, other women might not realize that she is indeed wearing a sheitel. They might well think that if she is already wearing a sheitel, then why place an additional covering on top of it?

They will thus assume that only a hat — and not a sheitel — is covering that woman’s hair, leading to the mistaken conclusion that merely wearing a hat suffices.

(From a wedding Teshurah)

The “Adjustable” Kerchief And Permanent Sheitel

As to your inquiry about the difference between covering one’s hair with a sheitel and covering one’s hair with a kerchief:

The difference is extremely simple. When the hair is covered with a kerchief and one meets a non-religious friend or acquaintance, then quite often the kerchief “slides up” or disappears altogether into the pocket.

This, of course, cannot be done with a sheitel. Ultimately, keeping the hair constantly covered becomes second nature.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 186)

All the Hair Is Covered

.. You write that you are not entirely sure of the purpose of a sheitel:

The purpose and intent of a sheitel is for all the hair to be covered. Thus, if one were to use a sheitel to cover only part of the hair, then one is defeating its purpose.

You should also make an effort that other women wear a sheitel as well, explaining to them that by doing so they open the channel for G‑d’s blessings of good health, ample sustenance and true nachas from one’s children.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 217)

Hair Length

“Half a Tefach

As related in the journal Yagdil Torah (New York, issue XXV), when the Rebbe was asked about the hair length of married women, he responded: “Not to shave the hair; let it be half a tefach.

He then went on to demonstrate the length of half a tefach by displaying two of his holy fingers. When further asked whether it must be exactly the thickness of two fingers, he responded: “It does not have to be exact to the millimeter.”

(Shaarei Halachah U’Minhag, Vol. IV, p. 141)

Follow the Prevailing Pious Jewish Custom

You write about the manner of conduct in previous generations regarding married women cutting their hair [whether it need or need not be completely cut]:

Generally, there are many ways and customs among pious Jews themselves. Concerning this matter one may cite the saying of our Sages, “They are each completely righteous.” It goes without saying that I am referring to customs that are within the parameters of Yiras Shomayim.

Therefore, clarify what is best in your situation and act accordingly.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVI, p. 89)

Not to Cut All the Hair

A great Halachic authority has written (and the debate is well known) that a woman should not entirely cut off her hair, and moreover, that doing so is prohibited because of nivul, disfigurement.

.. [This refers not only to shaving one’s hair, for the] Zohar II,p. 268b and Mikdash Melech on Zohar III, p. 79a — quoted by the Acharonim as law — states that even with scissors, only a minority cut all their hair.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated Sivan 5738)