Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Sheitel and maris aiyen

Igros Moshe (E.H. 02:12):Maris aiyen vs sheitel. Even though there is view to be concerned to prohibit sheitel because of maris aiyen (Ateres Zekeinim O.C. 75). Nevertheless the vast majority of authorities permit it. For example Rema O.C. 75and 303), Darchei Moshe, Magen Avraham, Pri Megadim and apparently also the Gra and the gemora Shabbos. Since we don’t see that the gemora prohibits it because of maris aiyen we don’t learn from other places that it is prohibited. This is because it is not a negative commandment but a positive command for the woman to be modest and cover her head and therefore you can not generalize from other negative commands. In addition in most cases it is obvious that it is not her natural hair but a wig. Even if it is not obvious to men who don’t normally look at women and thus don’t realize the difference, nevertheless it is clearly obvious to women in most cases and perhaps  in all cases. Therefore we don’t prohibit because of the very small number of cases that it might not be detected. Similarly it is permitted to shave the beard with scissors which produces a result similar to a razor and yet it is not prohibited because of maris aiyen. This is in spite of the fact that shaving is prohibited with five negative commands. We see therefore that we don’t prohibit every case where it might lead to a mistaken perception. Perhaps shaving is permitted because it is obvious to those who shave regularly that it is not done with a razor and therefore we don’t prohibit for the rare occasion where it isn’t obvious. This is true even amongst men who normally don’t shave and can’t tell the difference. However since it is known that people shave with scissors and chemicals etc. and not with a razor. So surely concerning a woman who is primarily found amongst other women who can readily recognize that she is wearing a wig, there is no basis to prohibit sheitel because men might not recognize that it is a wig. Even if her work is mainly among men but since women know there is no basis to prohibit even if occasionally it is not recognized and even if it were prohibited with a negative command. There is another major reason for not prohibiting sheitel. That is that it is well known that women wear wigs that look natural and therefore there is no Torah prohibition because of concern that in rare cases that men who don’t normally look at women might think it is her own hair. That is because she is presumed to be a good observant woman and it would readily be detected by other woman if she was wearing a wig. Don’t say that since in contemporary America most women are not observant that she is also one of them and therefore despite the fact that the rabbis did not prohibit it it should be prohibited Firstly we do not create new prohibitions that were not prohibited originally in the gemora and Gaonim. In addition it is impossible that something bad will possibly come from this to those who know the woman who clearly will not suspect her of wrongdoing. And regarding those that don’t know her and they say she must be nonobservant but they won’t learn from her more than from the many unobservant women and thus there is no basis for prohibition. This is also the reason that shaving with scissors or crème is not prohibited even though the results are like that of a razor since it is known that it can be done in a permitted fashion there is no suspicion of wrong doing.  In conclusion the halacha is that you have no right to protest that your wife wears a sheitel. So even if you want to be strict and protest you can’t make your wife stop because she doesn’t have to accept this stringency because it is entirely her halacha which she is correctly observing according to the majority of authorities who appear to support her position. And surely when she wants to wear a sheitel with a hat which covers most of the sheitel. So if you are one of those who shaves closely with scissors or crème and are not concerned with maris aiyen for shaving there is no basis to be strict with your wife concerning sheitel and you are being self contradicting.


  1. Amazing teshuva!
    Really liked his line that it's her mitzva so don't make her be machmir.
    Particularly enjoyed the price on shaving as some Poskim asur lift and cut or other trimmers because it gives similar qualitative results as a razor.

  2. I think he says scissors and not shavers per se. Then there is the discussion about which shavers are permitted...
    it is endless


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