Kesui Rosh (head covering) and Kurt Vonnegut
Emunah Threat Level Medium
I get a lot of mild to moderate headaches (I’d say daily) particularly between the hours of 7AM and 6PM Monday through Friday. As much as I’d like to blame the speakerphone abusers around my office I don’t really think it’s their fault. I think it’s my hat/sheitel/scarf that’s doing it. Having something tight (or loose for that matter) around your head for more than a few hours can be quite uncomfortable. I’m a very animated person by nature and the strain caused by limiting the movement of my head and neck to keep my hat/headwear on straight (often without realizing it) can cause headaches as well.
I know that I’m not the only woman who feels that way – C.B. (who you may remember from my carpool stories) complains of a “sheitel headache” nearly every time we drive home together. My mother-in-law does not cover her hair unless she is in Shul. My sister-in-law told me that she asked her about it (something I would NEVER dare to ask, but my SIL is gutsy) and heard this story:
When my MIL was first married she started covering her hair but after suffering from daily headaches she asked a Rav (no, I don’t know which one but I have a sneaking suspicion his initials are Y.B.S.) who told her that she could give it up. I had never heard a story like that before and I can’t imagine that this psak is standard issue.
All this “enforced suffering” reminded me of a gripping short story by Kurt Vonnegut which many of you may be familiar with, called “Harrison Bergeron.”
It’s a futuristic tale of extreme equality. In this dystopia, above average citizens are handicapped mentally or physically to render them exactly equal to everyone else. Oh just read the story.
Sad, but short.
Anyway, it got me thinking. While I understand many aspects of religious modesty hair covering has me baffled. A woman’s hair may be attractive but it is no more attractive than a woman’s eyes, or her smile especially in a society in which head-covering is not the norm. In fact, when a woman’s hair is covered by a gorgeous custom sheitel she may look sexier than ever! Is the forcing of women to covering their hair just another way of keeping women suppressed and limited from achieving their potential?
If you can’t think straight you can’t very well rebel and overthrow the world of men can you?
Imagine what I’d be today if not for my years of head-covered suffering! If I could be headache free I imagine I’d be more productive and patient. So is kesui rosh just man or God’s way of handicapping women? Or should I just turn my headphones down to a reasonable volume and kick my caffeine addiction and see if things improve?