Avodah Zarah Wigs

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I first heard about this a month or two ago. It seems that there are idolatrous religions in the Far East in which one ritual is the cutting off and donation of hair to their false gods. This hair is then sold for use in wigs that are marketed throughout the world.

If it turns out, as many are claiming, that these wigs are sold in the Orthodox sheitel market, then I believe that we have a serious problem. To my understanding, such wigs fall under the category of takroves avodah zarah and are prohibited to be used or even sold. Even the nullification of the hair’s sanctity by those who sell these wigs to the general public, if that is a nullification, does not remove the prohibition (see Shulhan Arukh, Yoreh De’ah 139:1-2).

This is not a humrah. This is plain vanilla halakhah.

Of course, the facts have to be uncovered and there could very well be circumstances that introduce further questions into the analysis. But the basic premise is serious and should not be considered some new-fangled humrah.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student currently is serving his third term on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and also serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazineand the Board of OU Press. He has published four English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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