"Jewish women are forbidden to cover their necks or faces because this is a Muslim practice, and we are forbidden from following in the ways of the nations."
The reason for your objection is correct, but misapplied.
The prohibition against adopting the customs of the nations applies only to religious practices that are foreign to Torah and to any other irrational practices of idolatrous nations, even if it is a non-religious practice. Non-religious practices that originate even among the idolatrous nations are PERMITTED if they are rational practices with practical and logical purposes, such as using spoons and forks, using light bulbs, medicine, and the like.
Although modesty of dress has religious significance among religious Jews, Muslims, and Christians, I personally think that it is also a very practical and logical practice, for many reasons. I believe this is why when the Talmud records how Hazal (the Talmudic sages) discussed the abnormal modesty of Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah, they did not speak belittling of her or rebuke her actions for being so extreme relative to the norms of modesty; Rather, they praised her for it! ...despite that her practice was without doubt extreme!
What did Tamar do?
The Talmud Bavli, in Sotah 10b, asks:
"Because she had covered her face he thought her to be an harlot?? No! But because she would cover her face in her father-in-law's house, he did not recognize her now [while she was acting as a prostitute].
Rabbi Samuel ben Nahhmani said in the name of Rabbi Jonathan: Every daughter-in-law who is modest in her father-in-law's house merits that kings and prophets should issue from her. From where do we know this? From Tamar. Prophets issued from her, as it is written: 'The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoss;' and kings issued from her through David [who is descendant from Peress]."
She would cover her face even in her father-in-law's presence! Now, I am in no way advocating that women begin doing this, and G-d forbid that they should be required to do this, because it's simply not a Torah obligation; My point, however, is that the Talmudic sages did NOT reprove Tamar for her abnormal practice of modesty, which was abnormal even for her own times. Rather, they praised her for it, without saying that the practice is obligatory; (Hilkhoth Sota 3:5 says women wear a "kupahh" in their homes.) The Talmudic passage even seem to encourage other women to act similarly! So if they did not reprove Tamar, but exemplified her, for un-required abnormal levels of modesty, then how do we have any authority to reprove women who do likewise in our times? But the women being reproved on this list includes women who aren't even going beyond what Hazal required. The women being reproved on this list includes women who are simply doing what halakha says to do - at least when it comes to modesty when in public. If Hazal didn't deem a woman worthy of reproof for going beyond local norms of modesty, then how can we deem a woman worthy of reproof for simply dressing as she is obligated to dress, albeit that today dressing according to halakha already makes one's dress abnormal?
If a woman should be forbidden for covering her neck or even face because the practice is also found among Muslims, then please consider the fact that many Eastern Orthodox Christian women cover their hair EXACTLY as most religious Jewish women today do. They also give charity, etc... Should we stop these things practices just because they also do them? There are also a number of countries where the Muslim women cover their hair but not their necks. If a Jewish woman shouldn't cover her neck because Muslim women also do so, then she shouldn't cover her hair while exposing her neck the way many Eastern Orthodox Christians, Ana-baptists, and some Sub-Saharan Muslims do.
The fact is that Jewish women HISTORICALLY kept these levels of modesty which you are unfamiliar with (covering the neck, and even the face), but the practice lessened over time due to the progressively immodest dress European Christian women.
Since Islam ADOPTED the traditional JEWISH practice of modesty, these high levels of modesty continued among Jews in Islamic lands up until they came in contact with more "enlightened" culture... usually upon arrival to the secular state of Israel or after immigrating to some other Western society. Many such
references to historical Jewish modesty are to be found in Jewish religious literature as well as in old
pictures and paintings. Not everything non-Jews do is forbidden. Why don't you apply the prohibition against walking in the ways of the nations to the traditionally European Christian clothing adopted by Haredi men?
This announcement of the bride dress
:כתובהWhen the marriage contract, committed pair in this decade a number of duties for the benefit of the wife.
According to the Talmud:Kethuboth 72a
((ואלויוצאותשלאבכתובההעוברתעלדתמשהויהודיתואיזוהיאדתמשהמאכילת ושאינומעושרומשמשתונדהולאקוצהלהחלהונודרתואינהמקיימתואיזוהידתי הודיתיוצאהוראשהפרוע ...))
((And those passing out not to write about the Jewish faith and religion and what is not Moses eating enriched and used to agenda has not Kotzh her and vows and does not comply with Jewish religious Which is exported, and her wild ...))
1.1.1. VIII Hair Coverings for Married Women
A discussion of Jewish law, custom, and communal standards
By Alieza Salzberg
· In many traditional Jewish communities, women wear head coverings after marriage. This practice takes many different forms: hats, scarves, and wigs all cover and reveal different lengths of hair. Many women only don the traditional covering when entering or praying in a synagogue, and still others have rejected hair covering altogether. What is the basis for this Jewish practice, and what are some of the legal and social reasons for its variations?
Woman praying at Western Wall
The origin of the tradition lies in the Sotah ritual, a ceremony described in the Bible that tests the fidelity of a woman accused of adultery. According to the Torah, the priest uncovers or unbraids the accused woman's hair as part of the humiliation that precedes the ceremony (Numbers 5:18). From this, the Talmud (Ketuboth 72) concludes that under normal circumstances hair covering is a biblical requirement for women.
The Mishnah in Ketuboth (7:6), however, implies that hair covering is not an obligation of biblical origin. It discusses behaviors that are grounds for divorce such as, "appearing in public with loose hair, weaving in the marketplace, and talking to any man" and calls these violations of Dat Yehudit, which means Jewish rule, as opposed to Dat Moshe, Mosaic rule. This categorization suggests that hair covering is not an absolute obligation originating from Moses at Sinai, but rather is a standard of modesty that was defined by the Jewish community.
Having first suggested that hair covering is a biblical requirement--rooted in the Sotah ritual--and then proposing that it is actually a product of communal norms, the Talmud (Ketuboth 72) presents a compromise position: minimal hair covering is a biblical obligation, while further standards of how and when to cover one's hair are determined by the community.
Elsewhere in the Talmud (Berakhot 24a), the rabbis define hair as sexually erotic (ervah), and prohibit men from praying in sight of a woman's hair. The rabbis base this estimation on a biblical verse: "Your hair is like a flock of goats" (Song of Songs 4:1), suggesting that this praise reflects the sensual nature of hair. However, it is significant to note that in this biblical con**** the lover also praises his beloved's face, which the rabbis do not obligate women to cover. Though not all would agree, the late medieval commentator, the Mordecai, explains that these rabbinic definitions of modesty--even though they are derived from a biblical verse--are based on subjective communal norms that may change with time.
Historically speaking, women in the talmudic period likely did cover their hair, as is attested in several anecdotes in rabbinic literature. For example, Bava Kama (90a) relates an anecdote of a woman who brings a civil suit against a man who caused her to uncover her hair in public. The judge appears to side with the woman because the man violated a social norm. Another vignette in the Talmud describes a woman whose seven sons all served as High Priest. When asked how she merited such sons, she explained that even the walls of her home never saw her hair (Yoma 47a). The latter story is a story of extreme piety, surpassing any law or communal consensus; the former case may also relay a historical fact of practice and similarly does not necessarily reflect religious obligation.
Throughout the Middle Ages, Jewish authorities reinforced the practice of covering women's hair, based on the obligation derived from the Sotah story. Maimonides does not include hair covering in his list of the 613 commandments, but he does rule that leaving the house without a chador, the communal standard of modesty in Arabic countries, is grounds for divorce (Laws of Marriage 24:12). The Shulhan Arukh records that both married and unmarried women should cover their hair in public (Even Haezer 21:2), yet the Ashkenazic rulings emphasize that this obligation relates only to married women. The Zohar further entrenches the tradition by describing the mystical importance of women making sure that not a single hair is exposed.
Varying Interpretation in the Modern Era
Today, in most Conservative and Reform communities, women do not cover their hair on a daily basis, though in some synagogues women still cover their heads during prayer. A Reform responsum (1990) energetically declares: "We Reform Jews object vigorously to this requirement for women, which places them in an inferior position and sees them primarily in a sexual role."
Both the Conservative and Reform movements allow, and in some cases encourage, women to cover their heads when praying or learning Torah, because of the requirement to wear a kippah. These rulings take head covering out of the realm of female sexual modesty, and instead define it as a ritual practice--for men and women alike--that signifies respect and awareness of God above.
In the contemporary Orthodox world, most rabbis consider hair covering an obligation incumbent upon all married women, however, there is variation in the form this takes. Some maintain that women must cover all their hair, for example the Mishnah Berurah forbids a man from praying in front of his wife if any of her hair is showing.
Other Orthodox rabbinic figures have suggested that hair is no longer defined as erotic in our day and age, because most of society does not cover their hair in public. Based on this logic, the Arukh HaShulhan concludes that men are no longer prohibited from praying in the presence of a woman’s hair, and Rav Moshe Feinstein ruled that women may show a hand’s-breadth of hair.
A few Orthodox rabbis in the early twentieth century justified women's decisions not to cover their hair at all, including the Moroccan Chief Rabbi in the 1960's, HaRav Mashash, and the lesser known American Modern Orthodox rabbi, Isaac Hurwitz--though they drew criticism for this opinion. In their writings, they systematically review the sources surveyed above and demonstrate that those sources describe a social norm of modest dress, but not a legal requirement.
"Now that all women agree," Rabbi Mashash writes, "that covering one's hair is not an issue of modesty and going bare-headed is not a form of disrespect--in fact, the opposite is true: uncovered hair is the woman's splendor, glory, beauty, and magnificence, and with uncovered hair she is proud before her husband, her lover--the prohibition is uprooted on principle and is made permissible."
What Women Do
While only a few traditional rabbis have reinterpreted the law of hair covering, throughout the generations women have acted on their own initiative. The first sparks of rebellion occurred in the 1600's, when French women began wearing wigs to cover their hair. Rabbis rejected this practice, both because it resembled the contemporary non-Jewish style and because it was immodest, in their eyes, for a woman to sport a beautiful head of hair, even if it was a wig. However, the wig practice took hold and, perhaps ironically, it is common today in many Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox communities. In some of these communities the custom is for women to wear an additional covering over their wig, to ensure that no one mistakes it for natural hair.
As the general practice of covering one's head in public faded in Western culture in the past century, many Orthodox women also began to go bare-headed. Despite rabbinic opinions to the contrary, these women thought of hair covering as a matter of custom and culture.
Many women who continue to cover their hair do not do so for the traditional reason of modesty. For example some women view head covering as a sign of their marital status and therefore do not cover their hair in their own home. Others wear only a small symbolic head covering while showing much of their hair. Also in many communities, women have persisted in covering their hair only in synagogue.
In recent decades, there is an interesting trend among women who have learned the Jewish legal sources for themselves, due to advances in women's education, and have decided to adopt a stringent stance toward hair covering, rather than following the more permissive norms of their parents' communities. An entire book, Hide and Seek (2005), tells these women's stories.
Modesty, as a Jewish value, is continually being refined and redefined by Jewish women and their communities. Just as some women have chosen to deemphasize hair-covering as a marker of modesty, in other communities women may choose to embrace it, developing and reinforcing a more traditional communal norm. As modesty is subjectively defined, the community to which one wishes to belong may play a large role in determining practice. The decision to cover one's hair rests at the crossroads between law and custom, personal choice and community identification.
<H1 style="MARGIN: auto 0in; BACKGROUND: white">http://www.myjewishlearning.com/practices/Ethics/Our_Bodies/Clothing/Hats_and_Head_Coverings/head-coverings.shtml</H1>
"...What is meant by 'the Jewish religious-law?' It is the practice of modesty that the 'Daughters of Israel' are accustomed to. And these are the things that if she does one of them, she transgresses the 'dath yehudith' (jewish religious-law):
She goes out to the marketplace or to a passage way with openings at each end while her head is uncovered (roshah parua') and without a radidh (a veil that cloaks her body) on her as all the women, EVEN THOUGH her hair is covered in a scarf / handkerchief,..."
The exact same terminology used in prohibiting an uncovered head in the above quote with regard to a woman is also used AND defined in Hilkhoth Evel 5:15 as WRAPPING ('atifa) a garment around one's head and covering up one's mouth with some of the garment. In fact, there are several references in the Talmud and in Midrash that women cover themselves in the way a Jewish mourner is to cover himself (a garment wrapped around the head covering up to his lips). This is NOT a new practice among Jewish women, but rather it is the remnants of traditional modesty among Jewish women which has roots going back to Eve, according to
This and the other photographs are taken from the "Pnei Shabbat" edition of the
[Mishna, published byFeldheim[/COLOR] - a MAJOR mainstream Orthodox Jewish publishing company. This publication of the Mishna is unique in that it helps the **** "come alive" with simple illustrations. The Mishna is of paramount importance to Orthodox Jews, second only to the Bible. The Mishna was compiled around 220 CE, and thus predates the Talmud and the rise of Islam by HUNDREDS of years. Here we see the term "Arab" being applied to Jewish women, in what is one of the earliest uses of the term! Why then should Israel be discriminated against by the Arab League when the Arab League has given membership to other countries which were Arabized long after the term was already applied to Jews? Could it be that a particular religious identification plays a much greater role in acceptance among modern Arab countries than historical facts?
....and notice in the picture what the less strict version of head-covering historically entailed.