Jewish Hair Laws Through the Ages

With regards to hair, the Bible seems to indicate that cutting a woman’s hair was a way to make a woman unattractive. The sole place in the Bible depicting a woman’s hair being cut is in the laws of the captive woman (Deut 21:12). After a period of one month, during which time she was permitted to mourn her family, the captor might then claim her for his wife. The fact that her hair was shaved at the beginning of her captivity, whether as a sign of her subjugation or as a part of her mourning, may also indicate to what extent hair was considered an adornment to women. Some scholars have suggested that cutting her hair made the captive less attractive to her captor, perhaps even with the intent that over the course of the month his ardor would cool and he would eventually let her go. This practice of cutting a woman’s hair, which only pertained to captives during biblical times, later developed into a cultural distinctive for some Jewish women. The practice of shaving a woman’s hair upon marriage, while not directly influenced by this biblical account, became prevalent in central Europe and especially Hungary in the …

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