||Polemical call for women to cover their hair in Yiddish. It is customary for observant Orthodox women to cover their hair when they appear in public. In biblical times, women covered their heads with veils or scarves. The unveiling of a woman's hair was considered a humiliation and punishment (Isa. 3:17; cf. Num. 5:18 on the loosening of the hair of a woman suspected of adultery; III Macc. 4:6; and Sus. 32).
In talmudic times, too, married women were enjoined to cover their hair in communal spaces (e.g., Ned. 30b; Num. R. 9:16). In a society so highly conscious of sexuality and its dangers, veiling was considered an absolute necessity to maintain modesty and chastity. If a woman walked bareheaded in the street, her husband could divorce her without repaying her dowry (Ket. 7:6). Some rabbis compared the exposure of a married woman's hair to the exposure of her private parts (Ber. 24a), and forbade the recitation of any blessing in the presence of a bareheaded woman (ibid.). The rabbis praised pious women such as Kimhit, the mother of several high priests, who took care not to uncover their hair even in the house (Yoma 47a; Lev. R. 20:11). Girls did not have to cover their hair until the wedding ceremony (Ket. 2:1). It gradually became the accepted traditional custom for all Jewish women to cover their hair.
In the early modern period the practice of a woman's shaving off all her hair upon marriage and covering her head with a kerchief (tichal) became widespread in Hungarian, Galician, and Ukrainian Jewish communities. Justifications for this stringency were to ensure that a married woman's hair would never be exposed and to eliminate the possibility of a woman's hair rising to the surface during her ritual immersion in the mikvah, rendering it invalid. Opponents argued that shaving the head would make a woman unattractive to her husband. Toward the end of the 18th century some circles of women began to wear a wig (shaytl). This "innovation" was opposed by certain Orthodox authorities such as R. Moses Sofer (see A.J. Schlesinger , Lev ha-Ivri, 2 (19283), 109, 189) but continued to be widely practiced. In the early 21st century, a diverse range of customs connected with hair covering are followed by Orthodox Jewish women. Among some modern Orthodox women, there has been renewed interest in various modes of covering the hair after marriage. Many women who are not Orthodox continue the custom of covering their hair in synagogue.