Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Nobody Lied

A recent video clip on Facebook, taken from a longer shiur by Rabbi Mizrachi, is causing some controversy on the internet.

Firstly, let me say that I respect Rabbi Mizrachi very much, and I listen to his shiurim all the time.  I have learnt a great deal from him.

However, he is wrong to say that people are lying about the Lubavitcher Rebbe's stance on wigs. No-one is lying.  I even have a book right next to me called "Beautiful Within'' which clearly outlines the Rebbe's viewpoint at the time, and there are several quotes from his letters to various people.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote  thousands of letters in response to questions he received from people all over the world.  Many of these letters have been published in volumes called ''The Igros''.  Everyone who wrote to the Rebbe received a personalized response.  That means that several people could ask the same question and receive DIFFERENT answers - because the Rebbe tailored these responses to these specific individuals.  

Generally speaking, the Rebbe did instruct women to specifically wear wigs [sheitels] as a wig covers the entire head and no stray hairs poke out, as they sometimes do when wearing a scarf or tichel.

And herein lies the catch...... in the days of the Rebbe, wigs DID cover the entire head.... these days some of them don't as they can be specifically constructed to allow the woman's own front hair to be brushed over the wig to appear more natural.  That is just one issue.  Of course the other issue is that some women are wearing very long wigs and 99% of the wigs worn today are made from human hair, which may have been offered up to an idol before it became a wig.

Would the Rebbe allow these kind of wigs ?  No, he probably would not have. 

But the Rebbe is not here to instruct people any more.  People rely on his teachings and writings and do not deviate from them.  That is why Lubavitchers and others continue to wear wigs.

The Rebbe is also not here to pull some of his followers into line..... a minority have given the majority a bad name.  

So in summing up, Rabbi Mizrachi is both right and wrong..... the Lubavitcher Rebbe said both things, to different people, at different times.  That was over 25 years ago, when wigs were obviously wigs.

People have different challenges in life.    Wearing a natural-looking wig is perhaps the only way some women can do this mitzvah.

Soon the Moshiach will come and sort everything out.  In the meantime, everyone calm down and realize that just because someone is wearing a long wig, or dressing slightly off-the-derech.... it doesn't mean that they are worthy of your abuse.  [Please do not think that I am directing that last comment at Rabbi Mizrachi - absolutely not ! .......it is for other writers on the internet who have an ulterior intent]


Z152a said...

1] Possibly the letter from this video http://bit.ly/2EnnQ2y
2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EDEtgd9s-w&t=1710s

Devorah said...

That video is Rabbi Yaron Reuven, he is just saying what he believes and which is his hashkafa. Everyone has their own Rabbi, and in fact everyone should have their own Rabbi who they follow, because different Rabbis say different things. I'm talking about orthodox Rabbis here, not any other kind. Different Jews have different traditions. I have explained why some women continue to wear wigs, and it's because the Rebbe that they follow instructed them to. Whether or not he would tell them that today is another thing entirely, and that is their decision not everyone else's.

Aharon said...

The Rebbe was very insistent that when a Jewish Woman leaves her home, she wears a Sheitel. In the home she can wear a Tichel.

I am not sure where this almost "fanatic" opposition to The Rebbe comes from.

I want to remind everyone, since I am probably older than most, than when The Rebbe started the concept of a Baal Teshuva Yeshiva - the world went "nuclear" against The Rebbe.

Where I grew up, the opposition to The Rebbe's Tefillin Campaign was "so extreme" with all the excuses that "How dare we put Tefillin on people who did not ........"

Over time, the whole world became involved in "Kiruv"

The Rebbe is the Nasi HaDor and the Neshama Klalis and The Rebbe does was The Nasi HaDor needs to do and instruct.

People need to be very careful when they attack The Rebbe.

In the early 80's a Rosh Yeshiva went on the "war path" against The Rebbe and Chabad and The Rebbe said that such a person (without mentioning any name) must have Posul Tefillin. I lived in Eretz Yisroel at that time and indeed this Rosh Yeshiva's Tefillin were Posul went checked.

Loshon Hora is extremely damaging just listen to Rabbi kessin's tapes on Loshon Hora. People need to be very careful in what they say.

Z152a said...

"That video is Rabbi Yaron Reuven, he is just saying what he believes and which is his hashkafa"

actually if you watched the whole thing you'd see he was making the case that the rebbe didn't allow them especially from around 22:55.

Another rabbi replied the following on one of the fb posts:

"I was close to the Rebbe & he never mentioned to me an absolute order "only wigs". I know from close sources that he did not ever intend "only wigs" & that he forbade long wigs like yours!! Pay attention to that sentence -- You claim to uphold the Rebbe's stand, yet you wear a wig that even the Rebbe & ALL other rabbis who permit or recommend wigs FORBID!!! I know from direct sources from the people in the international wig business who prided themselves on having by lies & exaggerations manipulated him into recommending & even in certain places to order wigs. The old low down lie tripe story of claiming that women who wear scarves tend to remove them fully or partially in public when warm etc. I know that the vast majority never do that. I have seen some women partially of fully remove their wig in public due to discomfort. Another manipulation they bragged about was in telling The Rebbe that it is a public degrading embarrassment for a Jewish woman to wear a scarf in public in France & other EU countries & various places in USA & Canada etc because the negro cleaning women were wearing scarves. "

Devorah said...

Thanks, I didn't watch the whole thing, you are correct.

If he said that, then he is wrong as well.

The Rebbe did say it, and many of us remember, we are not relying on hearsay.

Rabbi Reuven and Rabbi Mizrachi are entitled to their opinions, but they should not be contradicting what the Lubavitcher Rebbe actually did say, because neither of them can prove a negative, and whilst I can't speak for Rabbi Mizrachi, I'm pretty sure [from the information given in his own videos] that Rabbi Reuven was working in Wall St back in those days, and irreligious, so he would not know from his own personal knowledge.

It is misleading and incorrect information.

elisheva said...

This is a perfect case of the forest being lost for the trees. The issue here is TSNIUS (modesty). Some women wear a simple wig, and they emanate modesty. Even if you personally don't hold by sheitls, there is a rabbinic basis. And then there are others ...

Tsnius is a challenge for nearly everyone, for men not to look at women, and for women not desiring to be looked at and doing their utmost to gain the coveted attention. A big part of the problem is that the problem is not even recognised, and even worse, wearing wigs down to the waist is seen as a mitzva. Thus the person is not even aware that she needs to do tshuvah. This is all compounded by the fact that wigs are usually worn in public, so all the transgressions are further compounded (machti et harabim).

There are women I know who alternate between wigs and scarves. Personally, I find that when a woman wears a scarf or a hat, her neshama shines through her face so much more brightly than when she wears a wig.

Aharon said...

In response to your request for a blessing that it should be a "Chassidic home," surely you on your part are doing whatever you can to affect her in this spirit.

Wearing a sheitel is of primary importance to the fundament of the entire home, as this is something which is perceived by all. Especially so as I have heard that there has started to be some laxness in this matter, i.e., with regard to wearing a sheitel. Thus it is of the greatest import that one be tenacious about this matter that it is impossible otherwise.

Surely, your desire will help you find the right words to succeed in bringing this about.

Excerpt from Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 232

With reference to the question of a sheitel about which you wrote that you object to it on the grounds that it is old-fashioned, etc., let me say that the true approach to matters of Torah and Mitzvos is not from the point of view of whether they are considered old-fashioned or new-fashioned. We observe the Torah and Mitzvos because they are directives from the Creator of the world and of man. It is self-understood that the Creator knows what is best for man and that He desires that man should be happy and not only in the World to Come, but also in this life. This is the reason why the Torah is called Toras Chayim , meaning that it is a guide to the good life on this earth.

Specifically on the question of a sheitel let me quote here the words of the holy Zohar (III, 126a) which are quoted in Mishnah Brurah , and I will quote only the positive results mentioned there omitting the negative aspects: "Her children will be superior... her husband will be blessed with spiritual and material blessings, with wealth, children and children's children."

Considering the great reward which is promised to the woman and mother who wears a sheitel , it should surely be worthwhile to do so even if the wearing of a sheitel would entail serious difficulties and conflicts. How much more so where the objection to it, as you write, is only because it is "old fashioned." This is not a real objection, nor a valid one, and it is rather based on the "opinion" of others.

Let me also add that even considering the general attitude towards this and other Mitzvos, there has been a radical change in recent years; one of respect and admiration for people who are consistent and live up to their convictions and ideals, and are not influenced by the mob. There may always be some individual who might make a joke about a person's convictions, but where a person is sincerely dedicated to his faith, such a person can only call forth respect and admiration.

Furthermore, if you will eventually settle in a Jewish Orthodox neighborhood, you will find that other young women will wish to emulate your good example, and thus you will have the additional merit of being instrumental in influencing others in the right way. The reverse is also true, for a Jew must always consider how his or her conduct affect others. This should be an additional consideration why you should overcome your superficial objection to wearing a sheitel.

It is no less important to bear in mind that marriage is called "An everlasting edifice," meaning that it is an everlasting institution which is of vital importance not only for the husband and wife, but also for future generations. Every parent desires to ensure the happiness of children and will do everything possible to take out the utmost measure of such insurance.

Of course, you might point to this one or that one who do not wear a sheitel. However, it is surely unnecessary to point out that every person may have a particular weakness, and if one is to follow the principle "He is wise, who learns from every person," he will be wise to learn from only the person's strong and positive qualities and not from his weak ones.

Excerpt from a letter of the Rebbe, Chanukah 5721

yehuda Richter said...

Greetings from the Holy land !!! Devorah,I don't understand why you are pointing a finger at writers on the internet ???? Rav Mizrachi was the only one using the expression "liar " [1] "Its a lie !! He never allowed a wig " [2] "It's also a lie of the chabadnicks " . Seems to me your finger is pointing in the wrong direction .. All the best. Yehuda Richter

Devorah said...

Yehuda I was actually speaking about a specific blog that I do not want to mention by name who sensationalized the 'Why do you lie' headline. That blog does not allow comments so I could not respond there.

Devorah said...

Agree with you Elisheva.

Devorah said...

The video can be seen here on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RabbiYosefMizrachi/videos/10156205467599248/

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this post! I just saw this very video yesterday and it is so bothersome on so many levels, I cannot begin to tell you. My husband's shul is in turmoil over this issue and every Shabbos there is another argument over sheitels, it is heart wrenching and it does not bring Mashiach! We need to start focusing on what bonds us, what makes us the chosen people and share the light and not bring darkness into our shuls and homes with these arguments. Thank you, thank you for this post! I will share this everywhere.
Debbie Rubinstein
Ramat Beit Shemesh

Neshama said...

I’m not clear about who is “lying” and even the use of the word “lie” in a criticism involving Rabbis. I think the bottom line here is “avoda zara” and “yetzer hara".

“In the beginning” at one time in history all women (non-Jewish and Jewish) in Europe covered their hair with scarves, then raggedy synthetic wigs appeared, then the non-Jewish women uncovered their hair, then most Jewish women threw off their scarves/sheitels to enter the modern era. Traditional Orthodox women did not uncover their hair. Many modern women, even if religious, did uncover their hair, as can be gleaned from the early immigration photos (even of Rabbis’ wives).

The wigs went from synthetic to ‘natural’ then to ‘real’ and this is the problem. It is true that what Rabbi Mizrachi said about most of the elder Rabbis, that they forbade wigs and preferred Mitpachat (cloth covering). Today, in Israel, even the so-called (a term I don’t like) ‘settler’ women cover with fancy and ingenious fabrics. This is the preferred. However the yetzer hara has invaded the aspect of humility and tsnius (both male and female) to incite and confuse.

The problem is that wigs are not historically traditional, and were not used by our Imahos. The Frum velt desires women to retain their humble beginnings. Unfortunately, much confusion of this has fallen into the chulent of our times, which is a very convoluted society.

It is such a shame that our community has come to this confusion. Personally, I prefer a mitpachat and think that most women wearing wigs look strange. The long glamorous wigs only look good with short, revealing and tight clothing on young young women. I think that many Rabbis that allow a wig because their Rebbetzens prefer wigs as they feel it is more kovedig (respectful) when they are seen in public.

Yes, there are situations where some women, for medical reasons, need wigs, at least to wear under their mitpachat. This was all explained in the videos.

Bottom line: the yetzer hara is very very strong in this inyun!

Devorah said...

Rabbi Mizrachi clearly states in that video that people lied about what the Rebbe said, and that he never stated that wigs should be worn... to prove it he had a letter to that effect..... and I am informing everyone that no-one has lied. A letter may well have been written to that effect, but it was meant for that particular woman.
That's all folks !!

Neshama said...

Let me add, that to splice a specific segment of a video to support your personal opinion is taking thoughts and sentences out of context, and a shade of not being t….ful.

Sorah Berger said...

The Rebbe was endorsing sheitels at a time when most women were not covering their hair and people were broken from the holocaust. Even chashuv Rebbetzins weren't covering their hair than.
The Rebbe was concerned women would slip tichels off their heads easily and wigs were harder to remove. The wigs than looked nothing like today's wigs or even the wigs of twenty years ago.
NONE of this is applicable today. The Rebbe wrote that a tichel that covers properly is good to wear. This mitzvah has unfortunately become so distorted. The yetzer hora knows how powerful and important it is to cover ones hair and he's actually convinced the frum world that wearing hair on top of hair is better than covering our hair with the traditional head covering of the Jewish woman- a head scarf!
Wigs were introduced recently (about 200 years ago) - during a decree in Russia that Jewish women couldn't cover their hair at all in public. Some Rabbanim at that time allowed wigs (which looked like straw) as the lesser of the two evils- so Jewish women shouldn't walk around bareheaded. Most poskim than screamed about the use of a wig/ saying that it was assur halachically and because they weren't modest. The use of wigs spread from the reformers too- it was a more "modern" look than the traditional scarf.
After the holocaust some Rabbanim in America encouraged wigs due to the fact that women were so far from so many mitzvahs with many not covering their hair at all.
And now we have our tragic current situation- frum women unknowingly wearing beautiful natural looking wigs thinking this is a mitzvah. The same wigs that are sought after by Hollywood actresses and models for glamour we frum women wear for "modesty".
It has become a total hypocrisy. These wigs are defeating the purpose of the mitzvah of kisui rosh - which is because of "pritzus degavra" (trumat hadeshen). Hair is very attracting to men and needs to be covered after marriage. Wearing hair that is as nice as ones own hair or usually nicer defeats the entire purpose of the mitzvah of kisui rosh. Short or long- doesn't matter (longer is worse of course), if a wig is pretty and natural it makes the woman wearing it attracting to men. Her hair and beauty is meant to be concealed after marriage- not highlighted. It's a severe sin for a man to look inappropriately at a married women. Kisui rosh is supposed to help women safeguard their beauty only for their husbands. Not have women look like they are stepping out of a salon with beautiful shiny hair.

Anonymous said...

Just got to read this latest post and started to read the comments and am amazed at the outpouring of comments on this matter. Once upon a time when the world was still a little normal, these topics would not have been brought up, as it is understood that we (the Jewish people) were thrust to the four corners of the earth and each community had taken on different customs and interpretations of the mitzvah, depending also on the customs of that particular land. I come from one side of my family from a few generations born in EY and from one side came from Poland. The Polish side wore sheitalach but, of course, they were clearly sheitels (all short) and very conspicuously 'sheitels'. The Yisraeli side wore only tichel which covered the whole head. They are both correct, as they cover the hair. Before sheitlach were invented, there were only scarves. Better we emphasize that Jews (majority, r'l) return to Yiddishkeit and know what, at least, Shabbat, kosher, etc. mean and that alone will find much favor in H's eyes. These differences are just rabbinical interpretations, depending from where they come and that is why we are told to choose for yourself a Rav (of course, Orthodox) and follow his instructions when you have questions. Simple!

Anonymous said...

Devorah, being an ignoramous in the 'Rebbe's' teachings, may I ask.... Maybe what he said about a sheitel being preferable to a kerchief was also only written on a personal basis. I actually heard about this before, and it surprised me. As you said above, he obviously was referring to the wigs of olden days. In addition to that, head coverings in general, were a very very big nisoyan in those days. As a result, some poskim allowed, and actually encouraged wigs, so that jewish women will 'at least' be 'willing' to cover. I find it hard to beleive that the Rebbe would say this today to the regular frum woman. Especially regarding the glamorous long ones worn by many very frum people otherwise. While many of us wear wigs, no matter how short, deep down we all know the truth. We wear it due to the 'heter' that was given, but Hashem's intentions for tznius was certainly complete coverage just like our Imahos. Surely the Rebbe knew that our Imahos and Grandmothers covered with kerchiefs, and they were able to keep their hair inside. Thus, I beleive he meant his verdict for the then and there. Maybe most of the women that he represented would tend to uncover some hair with tichels, while with wigs that nisayon is minimized.
Also, "It's a Lie" I understood rather that, in general, we fool ourselves and lie to ourselves when we say that wigs are 'better' than total coverage with a kerchief. It is plainly clear that the latter is the TRUTH. Don't you think so?


Devorah said...

SK I agree and I disagree. I think there are times when a woman feels less conspicuous in a wig, simply because she blends into the crowd. Whilst this may not be the case in Israel, outside of Israel and in a working environment it can be a whole lot easier to cover with a wig.

But generally speaking, yes, wigs are not really comfortable, and even with the human hair they are very restrictive.

I'm just tired of people who write in a negative way about the Rebbe and Chabad in general, it's downright Loshon Hora and much as I hate getting involved in discussions like this, I feel as though I had to say something.

Thank you all for your comments.

Devorah said...

Neshama, that video was spliced and published by Rabbi Mizrachi's own FB page. Others may have copied it for their own websites, but it was Rabbi Mizrachi, or his assistant, who originally put it out there.

Sorah Berger said...

People dont realize what an important topic this is. Tznius is the foundation of all judiasm. It's clearly written in the Torah (Devarim) that the only time Hashem turns his back on us is when we are not modest- that is when tragedies occur.
Many people say that all the other mitzvos are as important or more important than modesty- but when Hashem created Chava he said over every limb- She should be modest, she should be modest. That is a womans main tikun in this world and her most important mitzvah. The Peleh yoetz wrote that 90 percent of a womans reward and punishment in the world to come is based on her modesty. the Vilna Goan said that tznius is equivelant to a man's Torah learning. That's why what we wear and how we cover our hair is so so important.
The wigs are not so simple. Most of todays wigs dont resemble the wigs of 50 years ago, most women today wouldn't wear such wigs. The majority of women today are wearing wigs that beautify them. if the Gedolim screamed about the wigs of 200 years ago, what would they say to todays sheitels? if a woman is able to wear a short wiggy wig than kol hakavod to her, but that's not the norm anymore. The nisayon is too hard. A tichel was always the ideal head covering halachically and hashkafically- it was never assured by many poskim and it is clearly the most modest. Recently at a huge asifa in Brooklyn as a zechus for the Azan family Rebbetzin Klughoupt (the daughter of the Skulener Rebbe) spoke live to over 5,000 women and girls. She spoke in the name of the Skulener Rebbe- (the speech can be heard entirely on Inspire by Wire 718-906-6451) she said that the long and natural looking sheitels are burning like a fire. She spoke about how when the sheitels first came out 200 years ago almost all the poskim assured them (and those were wiggy ones) and if they were here today they would never allow todays wigs.
There are two incredible books on the topic of head covering that really help women understand the mitzvah of kisui rosh properly- I can't recommend them enough. One is "The Unique Princess" by Rebbetzin Tehilla Abramov and one is "Adorned with Dignity" by Mrs. C. T. Friedman- both authors are very well respected.

Neshama said...

Sorah Berger: I believe she means “ossered” which means that the item is osser, (forbidden), and not “assured”(which means allowed). blogger/google uses an auto speller and changes words on people. It is important to re-read one’s comments to check for this usurping of writer’s wording.

The book “Adorned with Dignity” I believe is preferred over the other book (which certain factions do not approve).

Sorah Berger, all else is spot on.

Devorah, I didn’t know that about the spliced episode. I don’t go to Facebook, believing it to be the "prima mater" of Lashon Hara. I do know that one can do this splicing within youtube, or at least it was possible a while back. So be it….

Devorah said...

Those who are wearing the very long wigs are also wearing unsuitable tight clothing, not modest at all. Unfortunately that's the world today - but there are still many women wearing modest wigs and clothing, and perhaps an even bigger surprise may be that some Rebetzins, whose husbands tell everyone NOT to wear wigs.... are wearing wigs themselves.
We are definitely a confused bunch of people, but that is the world before Moshiach. i just wanted to set the record straight regarding the Rebbe's viewpoint.

Devorah said...

I don't want to promote FB but I do need to state my sources. FB can be whatever you want it to be.... you control your own page there... if there is LH then you remove that source of it. It's really that simple. Y

Rachel said...

This topic has caused me a huge amount of pain. I long to know Hashem's true wishes for us. It is obvious to me that the long, very natural, and ostentatious wigs are not modest and not allowed. But in order to blend in with the "yeshivish" crowd, some sort of sheitel seems "necessary," at least in the eyes of my rabbi (he is not Lubavitch but a talmid of Rav Moshe Feinstein, ztz"l) and also my family. I prefer to wrap with scarves and do so most of the time, but feel pressured when I make a simcha (or even go to one, in that crowd), to wear a modest sheitel to spare my family embarrassment. When it is someone else's simcha, I can "get away with" a synthetic sheitel, but for our own family simchas, I have to wear a human one "done" with curls or updo's and the like. I'm afraid about the warnings about where the hair may have been sourced from, but I am also obligated to follow my Rav, even if he is "wrong" when he says that it is not only allowed, but preferable to blend in with the rest of the simcha guests and not stand out with a fancy scarf wrap. Any of you who know the famous "lo bashamayim hi" story in gemorrah can back this up. So I am almost afraid that my daughter may be delayed in finding her shidduch just to spare me the aggravation of having to go without my scarf wrap. I pray that this is not the case and that Moshiach will come immediately with the answers we all seek, in how best to serve Hashem.

mg said...

I am a public school teacher and I wear a beautiful wig (Oy, am I going to gehinnom?)at work. My goyishe students asked me, "Mrs. G...are you wearing a wig?" So, for those who think that wearing a wig is assur because people can't tell whether it is real or not are mistaken. Even one of my coworkers asked me the same question. BTW, IN 1975, Rabbi Shimon Schwab assured wigs because they looked too real. And they were short and synthetic that anyone could tell they were wigs. Many holy rebbetzins wore them. Go figure. We have more important things to worry about than what women choose to wear. Don't you think? Let's put this topic to rest and move on with learning Torah and doing mitzvos.

Devorah said...

Agree with you MG, I believe I made my point about what the Rebbe did say and comments are now closed for this topic.