Thursday, June 22, 2017


Wigs – Huge False Alarm

    by Reb Gutman Locks

Wigs – Huge False Alarm


     There is an enormous outcry within the religious community claiming that Jewish women cannot use wigs as the hair in the wigs may have been offered up to an idol and is therefore forbidden. This claim is "substantiated" by wig-makers who say that no matter where the hair is bought there is no way of knowing where it originated. This means that there is a chance that the hair in your wife's wig was donated to a god in a Hindu temple, and according to the rabbis who are warning about this, that wig is forbidden to be used.

     Here are the facts as far as I know. The Hindu women wanting to get their god to answer their prayers go to a Hindu temple and donate their hair. It is cut off by a temple barber and the hair is sold to wig-makers for its monetary value and the temple uses the money as it sees fit. For the temple this is a substantial source of income, even millions of dollars. Note that the hair is not donated to be used on the idol or to be used as a sacrifice to the idol, but is donated solely for its monetary value.

      Some people in India have complained that the temples make millions of dollars and the women do not get even one penny. Temple officials have defended their decision to sell the hair, arguing that the hair would otherwise be thrown away, but the money the temple earns from the hair sales can be used to fund orphanages and hospitals.

     "For example, with the money we received in exchange for the hair we financed children's education by building schools. We distributed approximately 30,000 free meals every day for the poor and needy, and we have built hospitals to cure those who, otherwise, could never afford such expensive treatments," said a director at the Tirumala temple.

     If this is in fact the reality, then that donated hair is not forbidden as a sacrifice to an idol.

     There are different levels or types of holiness and tumah (spiritual uncleanliness). When something fitting to be offered up in our Holy Temple was given to the Temple as a sacrifice that animal or wine or flour attained the status of kedushat ha-guf (holiness of its body). This means that that item itself became holy and even if it were somehow sold or transferred to someone it would still maintain that level of holiness.   

     As opposed to this, if something unfit for an offering, such as a deer or a broom was given to the Temple, this was given as bedek habayit i.e. given for the use of the Temple.

     When the Temple sold that item the holiness would leave the item and go onto the money that the Temple received in its place. This means that that item could be used however its new owner wished to use it. This second type of offering more parallels the Hindu donation of hair. The hair is given only for its monetary value or to be thrown away and not to be used in their temples.

     Assuming all of these facts are indeed true, particularly that the cut hair is used solely for its monetary value or thrown away, then the donated hair that might end up in a Jewish woman's wig would cause no problem at all. Its tumah left it when the temple sold it for money.

     When it comes to halacha (Jewish religious law) there are often many different opinions. In this case of the problem with wigs there are many learned rabbis giving their opinions, and almost all of them say that the wigs are forbidden. These posekim (Jewish law deciders) know more about Jewish law than I will ever know, so I place this article before them saying, if the facts are as I see, then it seems that the conclusion I have stated, that the wigs are not contaminated with the idolatry, is the proper conclusion.

     I am sure if they object I will hear about it.




  1. The rabbi writes: "...but is donated solely for its monetary value.
    ...Some people in India have complained that the temples make millions of dollars and the women do not get even one penny."

    Some further ideas for thought...

    If the women do not receive any money, then the monetary value is not what motivates them.

    If the motivation is to provide a means of getting money into the hands of people to build schools and hospitals, why must it go through the temple? A private or governmental agency could take the hair and sell it and donate it to worthy causes.

    It appears that the women will only bring the hair to the temple because it is davka an offering to a false god. Since the god can't use the hair, it is put to better use by the priests, but the hair would probably not be donated if the women were not expecting some spiritual return on their offering.

    Would this not bring an additional dimension to the issue?

  2. As the idol's priest said if they did not sell it it would be thrown away so it does not have the din on an actual offering that would forbid a Jew from using it.

  3. Very nice explanation to try to permit use of that hair. However another isur is being ignored here. We are forbidden to give money even as part of a business transaction that would be used for avoda zara. For instance this is why French Rabbis forbid buying in groceries run by cambodians etc who had their little table-top idol mini-huts in the back room.
    The hair is sold for the temple to use for its purposes. Maybe, even likely part was used for charity as they claim BUT we know that (a) they cannot be trusted 100% because they know that their answer will determine if they can continue to rake in the millions or not. (b) for sure part of the money goes to temple expenses & living costs of the priests etc.

  4. Dear Rabbi,
    I have a 17 pg article here that proves the hair donation is a gift offering to their gods. This report consists of quotes from Hindu people themselves. Would the Rabbi wish to see it? Please email and I will happily send it to the Rabbi. Check out this excerpt from the report:

    Source #2: New York Times Article titled “A Religious Tangle Over the Hair of Pious Hindus”
    Written by Saritha Rai
    “When she came to the temple three years ago, Ms. Subhasri, 35, offered her a waist-length hair to the temple deity, Venkateshwara, in a sign of absolute devotion. She then prayed that her husband, Satyanarayana Raju, be cured of his acute stomach ulcers.
    Last week she was back, offering her hair again in thanks for the recovery of her husband, and saying a new prayer for the success of her older son, Veeraraju, 15. ''He has scored 490 marks out of 600 in his recent school exams and, god willing, he will be a doctor one day,'' Ms. Subhasri said, wiping her tears with one end of her sari...”


    Source #5 from a Question and Answer Forum for Hindu People on Quora:
    Question: Why is it believed to do Mundan (donating Hair) to lord Tirupati Balaji? What is the story/significance behind it?

    Some of the Answers Given:
    #1)By Lalitha Bhattiprolu on April 3, 2016:
    Mundan [hair donation] is the favorite sacrifice for lord Venkateswara.
    The story behind it goes like this: Once NEELA a devotee of the lord offered her hair for him when he lost it accidentally which deprived her of her beauty.
    Lord balaji promised her that he will repay it by taking the hair from his devotees as an offering. Thus, mundan became a favorable offering for him.
    The legend says, when we offer our hair we bow in front of him. It is a common practice that along with hair, mustache also should be given to him. Then only our offering to him will be completed.
    We must go for his darshan [visiting the temple to see the idol] after mundan to show him that we kept our promise of offering our hair."

    As shown above, the Hindu people themselves state they're giving their hair as a sacrifice...Thank you, I look forward to your response.

  5. While wearing anything on my head that was given in any way for Avoda Zora sounds pretty bad to me, it's distracting everyone from the real problem with today's wigs- the immodesty of the wigs.
    It states clearly that we cover our hair after marriage.because of pritzus degavra- hair is immodest towards men. Since hair is so provocative to a man (in a study on men to see what we're the most provocative parts of a woman to a man her hair and her voice won hands down!) it has to be covered after marriage. It is a grave sin for a man to look at a married woman therefore after marriage she needs an extra level of protection. She covers her hair to create a barrier between her and other men besides for her husband. She is reserving all her beauty for her husband in the home only.
    So the wigs of today which are all natural looking and beautifying are defeating the very purpose of the mitzvah of kisui rosh! They are sctuallly provoking men and causing them to sin. Most women look way more beautiful in their wigs than in their own natural hair- models and actresses are buying these same wigs for beauty and glamour! The same wigs Jewish women are wearing for "modesty" the celebrities are wearing to look provocative! This is a major chillul hashem.
    Many Gedolim screamed about today's wigs because of their pritzus. And it's not just the long wigs, the short wigs today are also natural looking and beautifying. Rav Elyashiv called today's wigs ervah in a shiur that he gave. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach called the wigs a loathsome thing- and this was 30 years ago when the wigs didn't even look ad nice as today!
    Men and women have no idea who is married and who is single. What's the point of these wigs?? They are making a mockery of the mitzvah of kisui rosh.
    That is the real issue with the wigs- they are immodest and provocative and are causing a HaShem's shechina to leave out midst as pritzus is one of the worst sins in the Torah.

  6. Why rationalize something with a makur that is so assur, perhaps therein lies the problem.
    When having a heart valve replacement we would not choose the pig valve replacement, we would choose the cow valve replacement.
    We are an am Kadosh, it is our purpose in life to bring kedusha into this world.

    This rationalization is ridiculous, the entire industry has become so convoluted, and it's no accident that this hair may be the prime source for today's wigs, and a siman that something is amiss.

    The mitzva is not to camouflage and look as if we are not covering our hair, the mitzva is to cover our hair/head once married- so that when in public our status is clearly different than that of a single girl.
    To illustrate- the countless stories of men approaching or asking about women who are married yet the men mistake them as single girls due to the "perfect shaitel". It is so understandable being that the ads are glossy, the images appealing, and everyone is doing it -

    BUT this issue, can be the impetus to begin to question and ask ourselves what is Ratzon Hashem -not how we can further rationalize this beautiful mitzva.


Welcome to Mystical Paths comments. Have your say here, but please keep the tone reasonably civil and avoid lashon hara. Due to past commenting problems, all comments are moderated (this may take a few hours.)

Your comments are governed by our Terms of Use, Privacy, and Comments policies. We reserve the right to delete or edit your comments for any reason, or use them in a future article. That said, YOU are responsible for YOUR comments - not us.

Related Posts with Thumbnails