Husband seeing wife’s hair at prayer?

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Is there an issue with a husband seeing his wife’s uncovered hair during davening or Shema?

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Asked on March 24, 2020 10:21 pm
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From the Talmud and on, the halachic discussion of a man seeing erva while reciting Shema includes the man's wife. (See more here.) Hair's status nowadays as erva for someone reciting Shema is debatable. Aruch Ha-shulchan OC 75:7 and Iggerot Moshe OC I:42 are lenient, while Mishna Berura 75:10 is stringent. Even according to Mishna Berura, a man can turn his head away from exposed hair to be able to recite Shema.

From a woman's perspective, if the question arises in the context of a family praying together, it’s worth noting that head-covering for both men and women can signify awe of Heaven. This is not the halachic rationale for head-covering, and halachic authorities generally permit married women to pray in private with uncovered heads. However, a married woman who covers her head during family prayer, even if she does not usually cover at home with her family, is acknowledging God’s dominion as a man does by wearing a kippa.

Learn more about these and related issues in our head-covering series.

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Answered on March 24, 2020 10:22 pm