Hair Covering By A Bride

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Hair Covering by a Bride Immediately After the Wedding Ceremony: A Brief Follow Up

Guest post by R. Michael J. Broyde

Rabbi Michael Broyde is a law professor at Emory University, was the founding rabbi of the Young Israel in Atlanta, and is a member (dayan) in the Beth Din of America

As is widely known (see Yechave Da’at 5:62 for a review), there is a dispute among the poskim about when a bride needs to start covering her hair. Some say after erusin, some say after nesuin, some say after yichud, and some say not until the next morning. In my reply to Rabbi Shulman, entitled “Hair Covering and Jewish Law: A Response” which was published in Tradition 43:2 89-108 (2010) I made the following claim:

Indeed, this school of thought argues that even women who are married but not “sotah eligible” need not cover their hair; hence a betrothed woman (arusah) does not have to cover her hair and even a woman who is a fully (nesuah) but has not yet been intimate with her husband need not cover her hair, since she too is not yet sotah eligible.

And in footnote 24 of that article I stated:

I have in my possession a responsum from R. Moshe Feinstein, dated 15 Elul 5745, to R. Aharon Tendler, forthcoming for publication which states, in relevant part:

The obligation of a woman to cover her hair takes effect only after the first night since it is from that point on that she has the status of one who has been intimate with her husband. She does not have to cover her hair immediately after huppah and yihud since at that point she does not yet have the status of one who has been intimate with her husband. The reason is obvious, since as a matter of marriage law, there is no distinction between an arusah and a nesuah, rather the obligation to cover her hair is dependent on whether or not she has been intimate with her husband.

I assumed, incorrectly, that the teshuva was in fact set to be published in the ninth volume of Iggerot Moshe, but apparently it was not, and a few readers have emailed me asking where I had seen a copy of the teshuva, and if I could share a copy.

The teshuva in question was distributed as part of a pre-publication selection of teshuvot printed in honor of the chasunah of Zev Shub and Tzipora Tova Tendler on January 6, 2010. I attach a copy of the relevant pages of this material for others to see: link.

About Michael Broyde


  1. I was once leaving a wedding soon after the Chupa with my grandfather R’ Dovid Lifshitz Z’TL and he commented to me that the Kallah should really be wearing a hair covering since she was now a Nessuah. I believe it was after Yichud.

  2. Thank you for bringing this to public attention. This position of R. Moshe is attested to by R. Aryeh Zev Ginzburg in Teshuvos Divrei Chachamim here: req=20287&st=&pgnum=246

    For further sources supporting this practice, see page 5, note 69 of the following:

  3. Thank you for making this teshuva available. I would assume that you wouldn’t want to publish it because it once again shows that you can write one thing on top and cite in the footnote as proof something that has absolutely no bearing to the subject matter. In the teshuva R’s Moshe gives a different reason for not needing to cover a kallah’s hair. One that has nothing to do with sotah.

  4. if memory serves (it may not!) i think rav henkin shlita makes the argument in bnei banim that haircovering is related to sotah “eligibility”

    i think it’s fairly obvious that the driving force is that the general minhag was that the kallah did not cover her hair until the day after the wedding. perhaps you can read the sources otherwise, but the poskim know this was the common practice and they back it up. it would be strange for such a minhag not to be justified – after all, it’s happening under the mesader kedushin’s eyes, and if it weren’t justified, where’s the record of objections?

  5. I recall hearing R. Mordechai Willig say in an audio shiur that a kallah need not cover her hair completely until the next morning, but should wear a veil of some sort in accordance with the common minhag.

    He was opposed to kallos removing the veil at the chasuna as a breach (IIRC) of das yehudis. This was part of his argument that the scope of das yehudis is determined by common custom, and the common custom is for a kallah to wear a veil.

  6. I recall learning once that on her wedding day a kallah is chayyav only in the d’oriata chiyuv of hair covering which is accomplished through the hair piece of her wedding veil. Does any one know a source for this?

  7. Shalom Rosenfeld

    Rabbi Broyde, just curious: had you seen R’ Moshe explicitly reference sotah eligibility?

    If I read the document correctly, RM”F doesn’t delve into *why* there is the intimate/non-intimate distinction; but sotah eligibility certainly makes sense.

  8. Shachar Ha'amim

    does anyone know why this teshuuva wasn’t published in the new volume of IG”M?

  9. I am unable to open the linked teshuva. Could someone email it to me? TIA

  10. I don’t know about anyone else here, but to me, this tshuva was clearly not written by Rav Moshe. I think anyone with a good grasp of Rabbinic Hebrew and its style etc. will agree that this tshuva does not sound like it came from the pen of the Igros Moshe. (I realize he was very old and sick in 1985, but being old and weak would not affect his writing style to the point where he’d sound like an American English speaker trying to write a Hebrew tshuva.)

    I’m not saying that Rav Moshe didn’t hold this way, we know from other sources that he did, but I wouldn’t give much credence to the reasoning (or lack thereof) contained in this tshuva.

  11. R’ Chaim Stein zt”l, recently deceased RY of Telshe Cleveland, was famous for only acting as mesader kiddushin if the kallah covered her head and would refuse to do so otherwise.

  12. Rafael, not everyone in Telshe held that way:that such as my Rosh Yeshiva Gedaliah Amener zt”l Only Chasam Sofer advocated for a challah tocover her hair. See Rav Ellison’s “The Modest Way” for a complete discussion of you the issue

  13. Sass,
    You are making an excellent point, I also realized that the style of this tshuva seems foreign to Rav Moshe’s style. Well done

  14. “I think anyone with a good grasp of Rabbinic Hebrew and its style etc. will agree…”

    Does R. Broyde agree?

  15. Rav Mordechi Eliyahu ZTZL was the mesader kiddushin at my daughter’s wedding. He instructed her to wear a veil of four layers under the chuppah and after the nissuin to raise this four-layered veil back over her head thereby covering her hair. This surprised me since at Sephardi weddings as far as I knew the kallah does not cover her hair until the next day. I asked my (Sephardi) mechuten Rav Moshe Harari about this and he told me that the source for this custom is torat hanistar=kabbalah as brought down by the “Ben-Ish Chai”..

  16. “Rafael, not everyone in Telshe held that way:that such as my Rosh Yeshiva Gedaliah Amener zt”l Only Chasam Sofer advocated for a challah tocover her hair. See Rav Ellison’s “The Modest Way” for a complete discussion of you the issue”

    I agree. I said that R’ Chaim Stein was famous for this. I didn’t mean to imply that this is general minhag in Telshe. As for why R’ Chaim required this, I don’t know if its because of the CS or another reason. Maybe some Telzers can tell us.

    Also, if my ask, at what point in time was R’ Gedaliah Amener RY in Telshe? I don’t believe he ever was. Just RY of Y of Greater Washington.

  17. I would never have thought that a short post on a halalkhic matter that is not particularly controversial would generate so much snarkiness within such a short time-frame. Everything from the Teshuva is forged to your Rebbi only learned in Tels. The internet continues to amaze me.

  18. Rafael, I went to YGW when Rav Anemer z”l was RY. THerefore he was my RY. He learned in Telshe at the same time as Rs. Stein and Gifter. I am suggesting that there may have been multiple options on the table in Telshe Yeshiva and Rav Stein’s was one of several.
    I should clarify that Chasam Sofer is not the source to discuss: intead it is the Minhagei R”i HaLevi, mentioned in Pischei Teshuvah EH 21:2. Also see lengthy discussion Otzar Poskim 21:2:27:1 about the dissent as to whether hair covering is required after Eirusin.
    It would appear that the deck is stacked against our custom that the kallah need not cover her hair during the actual chasuna. Which is why I asked the shailoh originally.
    Perhaps the veil is in place of a sheitel or hat or whatever.I have heard such from Rav Aviner and have heard that Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky z”l also allowed the kallah to “not cover her hair” until the next day.
    Apparently, there may have been many different customs because the gemara is not absolute in it’s description of how a kallah went to her new husband’s home

  19. It is very likely that this Teshuva was not written by Rav Moshe himself but by his secretary and grandson, R. Mordechai Tendler, on R. Moshe Feinstein’s stationery. Indeed, this was the situation with the May 1983 teshuva written in Rav Moshe’s name regarding women’s prayer groups. This was confirmed by R. Tendler in a conversation with Dov I. Frimer on September 16, 1997. R. Tendler noted that his discussions with his grandfather were conducted in Yiddish. The subsequent responsum, written by R. Tendler in Hebrew to R. Meir Fund of Brooklyn, New York and dated 14 Sivan 5743 (May 26, 1983), was based upon R. Feinstein’s formulations and phraseology. On this latter point, see the exchange of letters by R. Bertram Leff and R. Alfred Cohen, The Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society 34 (Fall 1997), pp. 115-118. See: “Women’s Prayer Services: Theory and Practice. Part 1 – Theory,” Aryeh A. Frimer and Dov I. Frimer, Tradition, 32:2, pp. 5-118 (Winter 1998). PDF File available online at: Text and Notes at note 217 and 217*
    I have no doubts that this one too was written by R. Tendler and is based upon R.Tendler’s discussions with his grandfather. As indicated in the comments above, this opinion of Rav Moshe is quoted independently by others as well.

  20. Rabbi Y.H. Henkin

    See Bnei Banim 3:23. Also translated in Responsa on Contemporary Jewish Women’s Issues (Ktav), ch. 18.

  21. Thank you R. Frimer.
    I presume that this tshuva was not included in the new chelek for this very reason, that Rav Moshe did not write it himself.

  22. “I would never have thought… to your Rebbi only learned in Tels. The internet continues to amaze me.”

    Snarkiness? What are you talking about? And this, coming from you, of all commentators! I was simply clarifying what appeared to be a comment from Reb Gedaliah that R’ Amener zt”l was RY in Telz. That’s it.

  23. To R. Frimer,

    Thank you for pointing to these sources, although I do not understand your point.

    The clarification was was not signed by R. Feinstein, but by R. Tendler. The 1893 “teshuvah” was not a Teshuva from R. Feinstein, but rather a clarification written by R. Tendler. At no time was a Teshuva written by R. Feinstein that turned out to be written by R. Tendler.

    Why do you think the Teshuva addressed to R. Aron Tendler, which is signed by R. Feinstein, is not authentic?

  24. I concur that it is hard to believe R. Moshe wrote this – the style is not his at all. As is well known, there were all sorts of shenanigans regarding the publication of the latter volumes of Igros Moshe – Rav Schachter told a friend of mine that there is a teshuva adressed to his father (R. Melech) in a volume which was published when R. Moshe was alive that does not represent R. Moshe’s opinion accurately (presumably a talmid to’eh, or ‘mate’h’, wrote it).

  25. One of the give-away phrases is רואים מזה – which is never used by R’ Moshe zt”l. It is invariably חזינן.

  26. lawrence kaplan

    Rafael Araujo: I’m with you. I see nothing “snarky” either in the discussion about Telshe practice or in the legitimate questions raised about the style of the Teshuvah.

  27. I’m a simple Jew with no pretensions of being a Torah scholar. Last year my daughter married a wonderful young man from a Yemenite family. Among other differences in wedding customs between Ashkenazim and Yemenites (and Sefardim in general) it turned out that Sefardi brides and grooms do not go into a yihud room afer the chupa because: a) they don’t fast before the chupa and b) the bride would then be obliged to cover her hair immediately. They compromised, and went to the yichud room (where my daughter broke her fast) but did not cover her hair till the next day, in accordance with Ashkenazi custom.

  28. “I attach a copy of the relevant pages of this material…”
    Could you post the rest of the set?

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