An alert reader brought to my attention a matter being discussed on a women's only message board regarding wigs.
Apparently, a pashkivel is being circulated in Israel (see images at right) decrying the use of wigs by Jewish married women. We're not talking about Indian-hair wigs, where there might be a danger of Avodah Zara (idolatry), but rather any and all wigs.
The posters gives quotes from about a dozen gedolim regarding the severity of wearing a wig. Some of the quotes are rather harsh. A sampling (translation mine -- parts in brackets are not in the text but are implied):
- This sin [wearing a wig] brings a plauge [that causes] you to descend to the seven levels of hell. This is an issur d'orissa (Biblical prohibition) of pritzus the same as having a completely uncovered head. [This applies to] even an uncovered wig. [A woman] who transgresses this is to be divorced and not receive her kesubah. -- R' Ya'akov Weiss
- I say, a woman who wears a wig (peah nochris) is herself not-Jewish (nochris). Wigs are for non-Jews. -- Mordechai Sharabi
- One time in my life I saw a woman with a wig and I said [to myself] Heaven has showed me this that I should strive to fix this problem of women wearing wigs with the hair like that of young girls'. This is forbidden. -- the Beis Yisroel from Gur.
- Any woman that wears even a piece of a wig prepares herself for the fires in which they will burn her in hell. -- Baba Sali (note: my translation here may not be exact... but it's pretty close.)
Harsh words indeed. Divorce without receiving her kesubah? Burn in hell??
Now, I have no idea if the quotes presented are accurate or not. But one thing is fairly certain... the poster is lying about one important fact. The opening paragraph contains the following sentence:
Even the minority that allow a wig only did so regarding wigs made of goat's hair which can be discerned from afar...
Now, one thing is for certain... among Orthodox Jews, it is not the minority who permit wigs; it is the minority that prohibit it. There are many women, who are the wives of established rabbonim in communities all over the world, who belong to just about all varieties of Orthodox Judaism... chassidic, litvish, yeshivish, modern orthodox, centrist, etc. that all wear wigs. To state that is the minority who permit it is downright false.
Furthermore, it's interesting how the pashkivel uses "scare tactics" to make its point. It urges men to make sure that other men won't find their wives attractive. It tells women that they are harming others (opening paragraph) by wearing wigs. It tells them that they are going to be driven from their homes without a kesubah and burn in hell. In short, do as we tell you, or else you're going to suffer for it.
I'm not quite sure what to make of this. On the one hand, it seems to me that this is the work of a lone nut or a small group. A proper pashkivel would probably have had a formal text and signatures of the gedolim, which this lacks. On the other hand, do the gedolim listed really maintain these positions? And if so, then how do you account for the large number of women who do wear wigs?
P.S. There is a phone number for more information at the bottom of the page. Anyone want to call for more info?