Rafed English

Woman`s Head Cover in Judaism

Adapted from: "Hijab, A Divine Value" by: "Sheikh Mansour Leghaei"

In the Jewish tradition when a Jewish woman3 did go out in public, she always went out with a head covering which also covered the whole face, leaving one eye free.

Going out without a head covering was considered so shameful that it was grounds not only for divorce by the husband, but divorce without the obligation to pay the Ketubah.4

“ These are they that are put away without their Ketubah... if she goes out with her head uncovered.” In fact, Rabbi Meir is quoted as saying that it is a duty for a husband to divorce a woman who goes out without her head covered. 

In the Book of Daniel (written after 160 B.C.E.) there is a clear evidence that it was customary for women to cover their heads and faces in public.

“ Now Susanna was a woman of great beauty and delicate feeling. She was closely veiled, but those scoundrels ordered her to be unveiled so that they might feast their eyes on her beauty.” 

A Jewish woman in Palestine before and after the Common Era5, and probably also later in Babylonia , then always appeared in public with their head and face largely covered.6

In connection with the previous resources the Talmud7 relates the following: 
“Kimhit, the mother of seven sons who successively held the office of high priest, was once asked by what merit of hers she was so blessed in her sons. Because, she said: the beams of my home have never seen my hair.” (Yoma 47a)


3. By woman here is meant a married woman. However, since the usual marriage age for a girl was 13, the distinction is not terribly significant. 

4. A marriage contract, containing among other things the settlement on the wife of a certain amount payable at her husband`s death or on her being divorced. ‘The Jewish Encyclopedia`1909 prepared by more than 600 scholars and specialists. 

5. The period coinciding with the Christian era. 

6. Leonard Swidler, women in Judaism, 1976 p.p. 121-123. 

7. The collection of ancient Rabbinic writings consisting of the Mishnah and the Gemara, constituting the basis of religious authority in Orthodox Judaism. Talmûd in Hebrew means learning, instruction, from lâmad, to learn.


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