Dear Rabbi Simon,
I recently got divorced after being married for 4 months. My question is this: Do I still need to cover my hair? If I were to move away from the community I currently live in, where the people do not know I was married, do I still need to cover my hair? May I have my hair uncovered in front of non-Jews (for example on vacation)? May I have my hair uncovered in front of my father? I really am finding it difficult to keep my hair covered, so I do appreciate you taking the time to answer.
Thank you for your practical and personal question.
At the outset, I will say that ideally this should be explored carefully with a rabbi whom you respect and who knows something about you and your particular circumstances (which I obviously do not). Nevertheless, since you have reached out to me (through this Ask the Rabbi portal), I would like to offer some general thoughts for your consideration.
I am sorry to read of the demise of your short-lived marriage. I am sure the circumstances surrounding your divorce have been very stressful.
The basis to distinguish between a married and unmarried woman with regard to kisuy rosh is the subject of much discussion in the halakhic and related literature. In any case, a simple reading of the sources would suggest that a woman who has been married (even briefly) must cover her hair in the future. However, there are those who maintain that the requirement for a now-unmarried widow or divorcee to cover her hair is rabbinic rather than of Torah authority. This distinction, in turn, leads Rav Moshe Feinstein (EH 1:57 and 4:32:4) to carefully permit a woman in such circumstances to uncover her hair in a situation of need for reasons of livelihood (employment) or prospects of marriage.
While this view is rejected by other authorities, IMO one who seeks to rely on the permissive view of the outstanding posek of our times (Rav Moshe Feinstein), particularly if she lives in the USA, may do so.
- In the first instance, yes, you need to cover your hair.
- If you move to a different community, the grounds to be lenient in this regard (for the purpose of remarriage) would be more compelling.
- You should not uncover your hair in the presence of gentiles. (The shidduch consideration is not applicable.)
- Strictly speaking, and subject to community or family norms, a (married) woman may uncover her hair in the presence of her father or other family members, in the privacy of her home (including her parents’ home).
Rivka, I hope this is helpful and that you find your zivug hagun as soon as the time is right.
Rabbi Rashi Simon