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 TorahToras 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 kissui 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 kissui harosh. I was perplexed by the very question as this is an explicit law in Shulchan Aruch1 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 kissui 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 kissui harosh, and what this custom is based upon”:

It is an explicit law — and not only a custom — of the Torah that a (married) woman is to cover her hair, kissui 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 states2 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 be superior to other children; moreover, her husband will 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 kissui 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 kissui 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 kissui 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,3 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,4 “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 kissui 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 Kissui 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 Kissui 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 kissui 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)

Kissui 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 kissui harosh. For the Zoharic statement is known that a woman’s observance of tznius and especially Kissui HaRosh brings about “blessings of above and blessings of below, with wealth, with children and grandchildren, etc.”

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

Kissui HaRosh as a Segulah For Sustenance

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

Why the surprise at your financial straits when the holy Zohar (III, p. 126a) explains that when kissui 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 Kissui HaRosh Is the Height of Irresponsibility

Should one say that it is impossible for him to concede that his wife observe kissui 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)

The Positive Effects of Kissui HaRosh At All Times

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 Gemara5 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 Effects of Kissui HaRosh At All Times On One’s Children

Tznius — the concept of “The entire glory of the king’s daughter is within”6 — 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 Gemara7 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)