Wig store (stock)
Wig store (stock)צילום: ISTOCK

Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, the Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, denounced the custom of married women wearing wigs, saying during his weekly lecture Sunday that wearing wigs brings “idolatry” into the wearer’s home.

Married Orthodox Jewish woman traditionally cover their hair, with many in the haredi community wearing wigs to cover their own hair. While this custom is most common in the Ashkenazi haredi community, it has in recent years become more popular with some Sephardic Jewish women.

During his lecture Sunday, Rabbi Yosef slammed the custom, claiming that the hair used to make virtually all wigs sold today are collected during “idolatrous” rituals.

“I looked into the matter, and found that the hair used is almost always from idolatry. With apologies to Rabbi Gross, when people talked about how the hair comes from idolatrous rituals, many women stopped wearing these wigs. And how wonderful that was. But then suddenly, Rabbi Gross comes and permits these wigs, only to walk it back,” said Rabbi Yosef, referring to a ruling by Rabbi Mordechai Gross more than a decade and a half ago.

In 2004, claims that most hair used to make wigs sold to the haredi public originated from “idolatrous” rituals led to mass public burnings of wigs deemed to be “non-kosher”.

The claims were sparked by an investigation by rabbis into the commercial collection of hair used for the wigs, most of which are made from hair cut in India as part of a ritual in honor of the Hindu deity Vishnu.

Rabbi Yosef went on to say that his own investigation found indisputable evidence that the hair used in the wigs sold to the haredi public comes from “idolatrous” rituals.

“I looked carefully into the matter, using every possible means. It became clear, one hundred percent certain, that the hair comes from idolatry. A person who buys a wig and brings it into their home cannot complain afterwards what terrible things happen to them. See, you brought idolatry into your home.”

The Chief Rabbi also criticized the practice of wearing wigs on the grounds of modesty.

“What does the Torah mean when it says ‘let the hair of the woman's head go loose’ ? We learn from here that a woman must wear a hair covering, for modesty. What kind of ‘modesty’ did the Torah refer to? With a wig? I’m not talking about Halacha [Jewish law], I’m talking about common sense. This is modesty? This is the madness of girls.”