How much is enough?

Coverage that is.

Post by Melissa

I feel like I am on an ever evolving path in my religiosity (didn’t know that was a real word, awesome!) and outward expression thereof. Lately this has been affecting many aspects of my life, as well as D’s, as we reevaluate some of our choices and alter our plans to move forward. Just as Jessica and R’s plans were drastically changed with one phone call, so to did ours.  However, ours are not solid enough yet for public consumption, so you’ll have to wait to hear the details. In the interim, you get more glimpses into how this affects our lives and how it plays out in my head.

Right now, I’m facing a conundrum over how to cover my hair.  While I am comfortable in my modesty level with my clothing and have taken steps to continually express myself while being consistently tzanua, I don’t feel the same confidence in hair covering.

As I’ve mentioned countless times on this blog, I like having variety and I like covering my hair.  However I feel almost hypocritical when I leave some showing, as most of the time I fully cover and am vocal about finding it to be a meaningful experience to do so.  I don’t think tying a scarf in such a way that the last inch or so of my hair hangs out is inherently bad, I’m just not sure its consitent with tying a scarf so that none of my hair shows.  Espescially not when doing so interhchangably.

So this Shabbat, I pushed myself a little. I straightened my hair on Friday afternoon and when I got dressed for Shul on Saturday morning, I wore a scarf tied so the bottom bit hung down. I even put a fun flower pin on it.  I felt like I looked pretty, and I got a lot of compliments. Does that somehow take away from the mitzvah and modesty though? I wear scarves tyed in a pretty way and don’t think its a problem, why should this be?  Aren’t we supposed to beautify mitzvot anyway? Isn’t that why we have beautiful mezuzot, chunkiot, and Shabbat candle sticks?  Isn’t that one of the reasons for Chazanut, and even choirs?

I wish I had the answers, but right now, I just have musings.  Please share your own musings and insights with me, I would love the feedback…

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15 thoughts on “How much is enough?

  1. I can’t comment on this from an experience standpoint as I am not in the same situation, but I think that the main issue is how you feel. What is important is that you feel your experience in keeping this mitzvah is a beautiful and enriching thing, and not a source of worry or agitation. Personally, I don’t think its hypocritical to sometimes have a little bit of hair showing and other times completely covered. Think of it from a style/fashion standpoint: not every snood you have goes with every outfit, same goes for tichels and hats, etc. So it isn’t so much a matter of being more/less stringent in your observance, since that really is evident in your demeanor, but just about expressing your religiousness in different forms. Quite literally, you have many different hats, and girl, I say wear ’em proud 😉

  2. Yes, I agree with Heather. I am not in the same place as you either and don’t cover my hair, but I do/have wrestled with other things relating to tznius – I feel like a hen trying to nestle down on her eggs – sometimes one position feels more comfortable than the other!

    I have been through phases of wearing trousers, and not wearing trousers. Of showing my collar bone/elbows etc and then not. It all has to do with where I am with myself on any given day and what works for me. All of this is more flexible, since I am a member of a more liberal community, which then means I am more likely to get the raised eyebrow over being modest, then not.

    So, I think the struggle is there, regardless of where we each are on the spectrum of our observance. What I don’t like is when my internal voice is telling me what I ‘should’ be doing because of someone else’s opinion. I try to abide by my own conscience and by extension, how G-d would want me, in my situation to live. The rest – glass houses…

    I bet your flower adornment looked fabulous. Do we get pictures? 🙂

    • I like your analogy and the reminder to “abide by my own conscience” – Thanks!
      As for photos, clearly there were none in the moment as it was on Shabbat, but it might be my hair for an interview today, so possibly 🙂

  3. Covering the majority of your hair is certainly upholding the spirit of the Law and ultimately, that is what you are trying to do. And I appreciate how you apply the concept of Hiddur Mitzvah to your approach.

    I too have struggled with this. It would not be well-received in my community if I were to suddenly cover my hair. And yet, as a married woman, I feel as though there should be something that marks me as set aside for just one person. Yes, I have my wedding band, which accomplishes that goal in secular society. I just feel that there should be something more.

    • Thanks…
      Have you thought about the wide headband? Or even not wide ones? They look to secular society and those who wouldn’t know otherwise (including most of your community) like you’re just into hair accessories, but it is something where you could know why you always wear them.

      • I hadn’t considered that. I guess that I struggle with — would it be enough that I am the only one who knows why I wear them? Isn’t part of the purpose of covering is to show the world that I am unavailable??

      • If it is about making a meaningful commitment to yourself, then yes it is. I think it can give you a place to explain it also when questioned if you so choose. An opportunity to describe making it personal and modern, which is something you seem to be good at doing.
        As for the purpose, I think that is but one component. Think of a sheitel, current ones don’t exactly scream “I’m covering my hair because I’m married” and in many places it is not uncommon for secular non-married women to wear hats or scarves… (I don’t know if you saw it, but Hadassah had a nice post with great comment conversation about hair covering recently, specifically addressing the same question.)

  4. For the record, for married women the mishna in ketuvot discusses head covering not hair covering as per the gemara in berachot. (if you’d like we can shmooze about this offline)

  5. So I took your suggestion. I wore two different headbands over Shabbat when I left the house (one last night and one today). They were, of course, unintrusive. But they were indeed personal reminders.

    I’m not sure where this is all going. I think it is something that I want to explore. And I wonder why it is that in my Reform community, it would be completely accepted if I were to wear a kippah (which I’ve tried and discarded!) but folks would really freak out if I started to wear a tichel.

      • Thanks. I had my head covered with either a headband or hat the entire weekend. I liked it. But I know that my husband really doesn’t like my hair in any fashion other than down. It so happens that he was away this weekend 😉

        I appreciate your support and encouragement and I’ll be emailing you as I go forward…

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