ה׳ בתשרי ה׳תשע״ו (September 18, 2015)

Nazir 28a-b: A Shaven Head

In many communities today Orthodox women wear wigs in order to cover their hair in public. Some suggest that the source for this tradition is from today’s daf.

The Mishna teaches that in a case where a woman has completed her nezirut and begins bringing the sacrifices that conclude her time as a nazir, her husband can no longer object to her nezirut and be mefer – the one to nullify her vow of nezirut. He can do so, however, if she is bringing sacrifices after having become temeah and is returning to her status as a nezira, since he can argue that her refraining from wine affects their relationship. Rabbi Meir argues that even if the nezirut is over the husband can object, arguing that he can reasonably claim that having a wife with a shaven head is unpleasant for him.

The Gemara explains the disagreement between Rabbi Meir and the Tanna Kamma as an argument about whether wearing a pe’a nokhrit – a wig – is acceptable. The is comfortable with a pe’a nokhrit, while according to Rabbi Meir the husband can object to a wig since it is zuhama – it is dirty.

Rashi explains the idea of zuhama according to its usual meaning – it gets dirty. Since during Talmudic times the techniques of connecting the hair to the covering that is placed on the head were not well developed, it was impossible to properly brush and wash the wig, and they often became dirty. Tosafot point out that even in settings where there was a lack of hygiene, her husband was more likely to object since this dirt was not a natural part of the woman’s body. The Meiri claims that in this case, zuhama might refer to the fact that the wig could not be brushed and combed well, and its unkempt look may have been unpleasant to her husband. Finally, the Rosh suggests that the very idea of a woman wearing someone else’s hair may have been objectionable to her husband.

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