Whats the halachic basis for leaving out the hair tied up into a bun at the back with a mitpachat (scarf)?
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One could argue that women who have their head covered except for a bun are following Rav Nahum Rabinovitch’s view that as long as most of the head is covered, some hair can be left out. Exposing a bun, as opposed to leaving hair hanging down below the shoulders, could be in keeping with the implication of Rashi Ketubot 15b, that hair loose to the shoulders is by definition uncovered. We discuss this in Head-Covering IV: How. (Leaving a bun out is also different from using a scarf like a headband or frame, which we discuss there, too.)
If the bun is small and fairly flat, and other than its exposure the head is covered, then that might also align with the position reportedly held by Rav Lichtenstein that one’s hair should convey the overall impression, from every angle, of being covered
It would be more difficult to claim woman exposing a bun in the back would satisfy Rav Moshe Feinstein’s ruling that up to a tefach of hair can be exposed, because Rav Moshe writes about total area (up to a square tefach), and does not refer to volume.
In the last few years, this style of hair covering has become increasingly common, especially in Israel. It is hard to know, though, what drives certain trends. Sometimes a particular women has learned the sources and chosen her style of hair covering based on the halachic discussion. At other times, a woman may look to her peer group, without necessarily checking if the practice she adopts has halachic backing. In our articles on head covering, we try to give women an understanding of the different halachic approaches, to empower women to make informed halachic decisions.
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