Why Do Orthodox Jewish Women Wear Wigs (If They Look Better Than Hair)?

Why do Orthodox women wear wigs – especially if the wig looks even nicer than their hair? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? In this video we explore the text-based sources for hair covering. It begins with a reference in the Torah, and then is expounded upon in the Talmud.

But what about wigs? When did that begin? In the video, we show when this practice historically started, and why it was accepted by many rabbinic authorities. For the people who assume that wearing a wig is pointless because it makes a woman look too attractive, I would suggest that these people misunderstand what Jewish modesty is about. Tznius is not about looking ugly. Jewish modesty is about keeping certain parts of oneself private. But what if the wig actually improves a woman’s looks? How does that accomplish anything? Watch this video to find out!


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  • Avatar photo valdeni says on June 10, 2019

    Every village has its customs and habits, there is nothing wrong to wear wigs since they like.

  • Avatar photo Sherri Samuels says on April 5, 2020

    Wow, so many misconceptions. Crazy what people think.
    Thank you for posting our daughter Michelle Kaman’s article. Another misconception of ideas explained.

  • Avatar photo April Ashley says on April 12, 2020

    I never realised how close Judaism was to Islam regarding the control of women’s appearance? (hair). This is not a condemnation, as a Christian I am trying to make sense of this discussion?

    • Avatar photo Allison Josephs says on April 20, 2020

      Thanks for your comment, April. Islam came after Judaism. So we had this concept first.

    • Avatar photo Jack says on March 24, 2021

      The New Testament forbids Christian women from braiding their hair, and wearing gold, pearls, or costly clothing. (1 Tim 2:9-10, and other passages) The rules are there. But the Christians ignore them.

      • Avatar photo Karen says on April 10, 2021

        I am a Christian woman who believes in the oneness of God. I try to observe the New Testament in regard to dress. I do not wear jewelry, costly clothing, makeup or any other physical adornment. I dress modestly. The Bible also teaches that a woman’s long hair is her adornment. It has always been my understanding that the term is “broiding”, which refers to the elaborate arrangement of the hair. I do wear my hair in a simple braid. I have found this to be the most practical way to wear long hair and I will answer to God alone on my choice. We are all children of God and I think that lumping all Christians into the same basket creates a very narrow view of the world.

        • Avatar photo Mary says on June 22, 2023

          Actually, Christian women are supposed to cover their hair too. Paul is pretty clear about this. The early fathers went as far as to say that the head and neck should be completely covered at least during prayer and in public.

          Because of Islam, Christians have n Muslim-influenced or dominated cultures (Balkans and Greece) either do not cover their heads at all, or leave some hair showing so they’re not mistaken for Muslims.

          In some Orthodox Christian traditions (Russian Orthodox) women cover their heads in church and when praying or reading/studying the Bible.
          I know of only a few Orthodox Christian women who cover their hair outside of church. It is quite the spiritual discipline!

      • Avatar photo Marilyn says on July 3, 2021

        One of my ultra observant neighbours actually has a big piece of paper on window at front of home stating in bold letters the ‘evil’ of the sheitel/wig and how bad it is to wear one and that only tichel/turban should be worn. Ooops. It angers a lot of the wig wearing ladies who see it as they walk

        • Avatar photo Allison Josephs says on July 5, 2021

          That is a rude message to have on one’s window and since being a mensch is the foundation of being a religious Jew, your neighbor seems to be missing the point.

      • Avatar photo Kristen O’Melia says on November 17, 2022

        If the wig ends up drawing more attention from men, she is still being gazed upon by other men, they do have access to her beauty. Is the point to not draw attention in the first place? I understand what you are saying, but what if the wigs attract more attention from men?

        • Avatar photo Allison Josephs says on November 18, 2022

          Men have to do their part too. Modesty is a partnership, not all on women. Makeup, beautiful clothes, jewelry may also make a woman more attractive. That’s fine. It’s about dressing in a dignified way and men responding in a dignified way.

        • Avatar photo Sarah says on July 18, 2023

          Thank you for explaining this in such an understandable and fun way! I look forward to learning more from your site about my Jewish sisters and brothers. Blessings to you all!

    • Avatar photo gloria cohen says on April 25, 2021

      Ashley, they’re cousins, the Jews and Islamists. They both have Abraham as their forefather.
      I agree with you that their customs are similar, but Moslem women wear scarves on their head
      , and I think that’s a nicer way of showing modesty. However, I don’t believe in the necessity for head coverings for the women. Why don’t the men cover their hair?

    • Avatar photo Ben says on November 2, 2022

      You state that you’re trying to make sense of this discussion, so this note of context might be helpful. From my understanding, Jews have written law (the Torah) and oral law (the Talmud), both of which ostensibly come from Moses.

      Most Christians know the Torah as the Pentateuch, or the first five books of the “Tanach”: what we call the “Old Testament.”

      Howevr, several Jewish traditions come from the Talmud, which leaves most Christians puzzled, since the Talmud is unfamiliar to us.

      It’s a bit how many orthodox Christians abide by various historical creeds and traditions, that are not understood by non-Christians. Or how Muslims abide by “hadith” in addition to the Qur’an.


  • Avatar photo Laura says on June 24, 2020

    I am a single my & have had a conversation with my daughter just today, who went to camp gan Israel & brought back a tznius dress for shabbos that each girl got to select &9 keep.
    We are not orthodox however we both appreciate modesty & she said if she had more dresses she’d wear those more frequently to school etc. It made me look for modest dress. I will have to save up but I have been leaning towards this & hope to save $ to buy a sheitle to wear as well as some shabbos robes to wear to chabad.
    I want to set the examples for my children for them to embrace their spiritual heritage. I don’t think it detracts from our liberty or independence at all.
    It’s seeking holiness & family purity which is a noble endeavor.

  • Avatar photo Rivi Joel says on April 18, 2022

    If you call something naturally belonging to a woman an ervah, is that the same as blaspheming God’s creation? God created woman last – the pinnacle of God’s creation. God created a woman’s voice and hair – both are parts of a woman to be seen and heard. If you call a woman;s voic or hair ervah, which was fashioned and created by God, is that not calling God’s creation ervah? To me calling God’s natural creations ervah blasphemes God.

    • Avatar photo Allison Josephs says on April 18, 2022

      Thanks for your comment. God created private parts for a woman and man. Are those parts not ervah (i.e. naked) and deserving to only be in private spaces? Erva is not a bad thing, it’s just designated as part of the private domain. When we allow for things to remain covered and private, we have the opportunity to uncover them in intimate settings and the effect is felt. In our sexified culture, nakedness is everywhere and there is an epidemic of people feeling no feelings sexually.

  • Avatar photo Nachum says on November 6, 2022

    Back well over a hundred years ago in Russia, my grandmother promised God that if a child of hers recovered from a serious illness, she’d wear a wig. Of course she covered her hair already (the whole world, men and women, covered their heads until after World War II); when you see what she looked like, photos taken after the child had thankfully recovered and she’d fulfilled her vow, you’d know why this would be a promise like that: Wigs were ugly and uncomfortable, and probably she had to cut her hair short to wear it. How the world changes.


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