Monday, October 10, 2011

The Hair That's There: You Can Never Go Back

So I know you're all wondering: What gives on the hair-uncovering, Chavi? My most-read posts on this blog are in the vein of hair-covering and mikvah and all things involving shomer negiah, so it must seem weird that I uncovered when we all know that even divorced women are supposed to continue covering their hair, right?

Also, I know that it might come as a shock to some that I uncovered so soon after receiving my get. Around 1 p.m. on September 21, the get was given, and I walked away an unmarried woman according to Jewish law. (I'll write about the ceremony itself, so consider this a "to be continued.") I know of some women who throw off their sheitel or hat or tichel immediately as they walk out of the room, but I couldn't do that. I was still undecided about my uncovering. I got a boost of confidence and support, however, from the rabbi who headed up the beth din (rabbinical court) of the get ceremony. After he shared some very kind words about me (which could go either way for boosting the convert's self-esteem -- ask me if you want to hear the story), I mentioned that I knew Rav Moshe Feinstein's ruling on a divorced woman's hair-covering, but I know that there are leniencies. My query was based on the following:
[Rav Feinstein] is concerned for the divorcĂ©e who needs to get on with her life. In one text, he gives a divorced woman permission to uncover her hair for dating purposes (IM EH 4:32.4). The young woman wants to be able to meet men for matrimonial purposes. She is afraid that a head covering will automatically indicate that she is currently married. Rabbi Feinstein is persuaded that her motive is legitimate and so allows her to remove her head covering. But, he warns, there are conditions. She must inform the man as soon as possible that she is divorced. He will not allow her to mislead a man just to dispel an incorrect first impression so that she might eventually marry. 
The rabbi, impressed with my citation of Rav Feinstein, said, "You're young, you have no kids, you're relocating to a new community, and you want to remarry, yes?" I responded yes to all and he advised to uncover as necessary. 

So here I am, uncovering my hair. It took me a few days, until that following Sunday, actually. After having hacked my hair off a few times during September, I was in need of a serious shape-up haircut. I pulled into Lincoln, Nebraska, checked into my hotel, and went to get a haircut. When I got up that day, I showered and debated whether to cover on the way to the hair-cutting place, but just grabbed a hat and shoved it in my purse -- just in case it didn't feel right. I walked out into the cool Nebraska morning, sun beating down on my freed tresses, and for a split second I felt a freedom, a release, like I was reclaiming my independence, my personality, my happiness. 

But it was fleeting, as all things are. 

I went to the cuttery, showed a picture of my hair from before I got married, and said, "Can we do this, please?" After she was done, I felt that feeling of freedom again. Like, I'm back to the old me! Huzzah! But again, fleeting. I went home to see my family for the first time since May, and I think they were happy to see the hair open and free -- I'm not sure they ever got the whole hair-covering thing to begin with. I toyed with grabbing the hat from my purse and covering up, just to feel a little bit like the married me again, but realized that just as mucha as I couldn't go back to my old haircut, I couldn't go back to covered, married me. 

Who am I? Maybe I just need a new 'do. 

It's funny how much our hair controls our feelings and who we are. It feels horribly wrong, too. It feels shallow and vain. 

So I wake up every day and look in the mirror and let out a huge, heaving sigh because I have to do something with this hair that no longer expresses who I am but that I have anyway. I want to grow it out, to get a cute bob or something, like my dream sheitel, but that's going to take time, and growing hair out when it's been short is a huge pain in the tuches. 

Or maybe I won't grow it. Maybe I'll give up and when winter rolls around go back to my most favorite knit hats that I sported all winter last year, when I was married. I do know several women who were uncovering for months only to start covering again after realizing the same thing I did.

You can never go back. 

G-d willing, I'll get married in the right time and get back to hair covering, a place that I feel is home now. Who woulda thunk it, eh? 

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