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Dear Heshy: I saw a frum woman wearing a bikini and covering her hair!

I just received the following, and I’ve been getting them for years :

Greetings, thought would like this…my family and I are hanging by the pool…and there is this obvious young Lubavitcher long beard, baseball cap and his wife with a perfect Israeli Style Tichel/kerchief not one hair showing ….yet in a tiny bikini!!! What’s with that?? Bikini is ok? but she cannot show her hair??? I get that some people pick and choose and I am guilty of that but this takes the cake!For years I’ve been hearing about those “hypocritical” modern orthodox ladies in Miami over Pesach who wear thongs and snoods on the beach. I can honestly say that, despite rumors of the bikini clad ladies with sheitles, tichels and snoods, I’ve never had the honor to see one. I’m sure it’s true, I’ve seen plenty of supposedly hypocritical things in my days of frum community observations, but let us just look at the case of the pritzus ladies with their hair covered.

Quite some time ago I realized, and was subsequently informed, that covering of the hair and tznius are two separate things. While both are definitely steeped in social orthodoxy, one is actually based on sexual ideas and the other is based on spiritual ideas. Unmarried and married ladies both need to cover all of the same parts (we can probably debate this all day) while only married ladies need to cover their hair.

I’m sure some poskim are probably reading this post and I wonder what they would say to whether or not it’s more important to dress tzniusly or to cover your hair as a married lady. We can point our fingers at Israel who has plenty of ladies that choose hair coverings (mostly because it’s in this hippie kind of fashion) over dressing in strict tznius standards. I know girls who wear pants, tank tops and full head scarves. Hypocritical? Or just choosing hair covering and their own style?

Of course, most people jump to conclusions (I sure as hell do, because it’s way more fun to be a judgmental asshole then do my research) when it comes to our pick and choose Judaism. Covering your hair while wearing a bikini is kind of like a tefillin date. Just because you just had illicit sex, doesn’t mean you can’t wrap (or lay) tefillin. It just means that you’re not perfect and in the eyes of the irreligious and the super religious you’re a moron.

Now let’s switch the scenario, instead of saying that those ladies are being hypocrites, let’s do it this way. Wow, I saw a women who was dressed super scandalous, yet she still covered her hair, that’s some dank mesiras nefesh.

Find more tznius bikini ladies on 4torah.com

{ 54 comments… add one }
  • Rebecca December 24, 2012, 9:32 PM

    Heshy ….I can affirm story is true…Chaya Miriam says (rightfully so) that if I take a picture of …blurring out the face of the wife in bikini and tichel with Husband you wouldn’t post it…not that I would have the guts to just snap her picture…she would probably be very very embarrassed! So not looking to make waves…I actually was just intrigued by the whole idea and thought process that would make someone think it was a good idea to wear the bikini….maybe a one piece? I may not have really noticed the one piece… With maybe a sarong around waist… I don’t know..but I AM NOT JUDGING…to each their own. I respect everyone’s level of observance… And I have gotten a lot of respect for my levels from my frum friends no judgements… Live and let live …my very frum friends are amazing…and my other not so frum and goyish friends as well… It’s all good. By the way Chaya Miriam is a doll…but you know that.

    • ronnie G December 25, 2012, 7:08 AM

      I cannot understand the warped mentality in Crown Heights ,even though these guys do great work around the world ,its acceptable for the girls /women to look like they charge for a living .Yes might be attractive to many guys but RELIGIOUS?

  • Rebecca December 24, 2012, 9:35 PM

    BTW the girl was a Hot Chani your picture is “slightly” off LOL great pic!!!

  • Old jokes December 24, 2012, 10:15 PM

    You know why frum women wear bikinis, not one-pieces?

    They want to separate the milk from the meat.

    I’m here all week.

  • thinking outloud December 24, 2012, 11:40 PM

    this is standard vacation practice…nothing new.

  • Michal December 24, 2012, 11:41 PM

    So does the “frum community” have a standard on which is more important, dressing tzunis or covering your hair (if you’re married)? I always assumed it was the dress so in the summer when it’s over 100 degrees I will go without a hair cover unless I’m in the mood for heat stroke. Maybe I’m going about it the wrong way!

    • Michael K. December 26, 2012, 7:15 AM

      I have a standard: If you’ve got a rockin’ bod, show it off.

  • shmuel December 25, 2012, 4:16 AM

    As far as I am aware, hair is considered “ervah”, which, together with the female genitalia and a woman’s voice, are singularly called as such – not even breasts are called thus!
    This means that halachically, covering one’s hair is like the lower bikini, and not to be exposed in any public circumstance.
    All other parts of the body are only tzniut and are rabbinic extentions to “ervah”. So in fact the lady on the beach has her halachic priorities correctly adorned, even though through the eyes of western values of modesty it may seem absurdly incongruous.

    • Heshy Fried December 25, 2012, 10:50 AM

      Since the ervah of hair only takes place after marriage, one would argue that this ervah is not like all other ervah…furthermore, if hair was truly ervah, all women would have to cover it.

      • 45 December 29, 2012, 11:47 AM

        Well, according to both the rambam and the shulchan aruch, all girls whether 5 year old or married are supposed to cover their ‘ervah’ hair.

    • Telz Angel December 25, 2012, 12:52 PM

      Amaratzus. Open up a Gemara (Kiddushin 70a and Brochos 24a,b) and then look at the halacha (Rambam, Tur, Shulchan Aruch) and the nosei keilim, as well as the mefarshim on the gemara and some recent teshuvot. Most frum people have absolutely no idea what the halacha regarding ervah really is. We ignore halacha on the books completely and make stuff up on our own. When you spend a few weeks learning the sources inside you’ll see that most frum people are no different than the conservatives, we make up the halachos to fit lifestyle preferences. Seriously look up the sources and document what the halacha says, then compare to reality.

      • Should be working December 26, 2012, 9:09 AM

        Telz, can you explain what is in there?

        • Anonymous June 2, 2013, 5:42 PM

          Well, for example, a woman must cover her hair, married or not (Hilchot Isurei Biah 21:17). A woman must also cover her neck (Hilchot Ishut 24:12).

  • Shmuel December 25, 2012, 4:21 AM

    I forgot to add that by strict halacha all women over the age of puberty ought to cover their hair, married or not (Rambam), but the universal custom is to be lenient with young unmarrieds in order not to hurt their shidduch chances, which is also why some rabbis permit divorcees or widows to uncover their hair.

    • Anonymous December 25, 2012, 9:08 AM

      the Rambam says a “single woman” (penuyah) must cover her hair. According to most interpretations, if he meant a woman who was never married he would have said a “besulah”

    • Anonymous December 25, 2012, 9:19 AM

      the Rambam says a “single woman” (penuyah) must cover her hair. According to most interpretations, if he meant a woman who was never married he would have said a “besulah” (maiden). There are those who make a besulah cover her hair as well, but that is very very rare. I know in the Lev Tahor community (cult?) in Canada this is the practice.

    • Anonymous December 26, 2012, 5:23 PM

      The Rambam lived in a place where all women had to covert there B.C. Arabs so he paskans different..

  • Shragi December 25, 2012, 4:30 AM

    Instead of looking at the cup of orange juice as half empty etc. But what’s if I don’t like orange juice altogether?

    • Heshy Fried December 25, 2012, 10:51 AM

      So you’re saying you’re gay…in that case the laws of tznius don’t apply to you. I hear that fag hags are perfectly acceptable in the frum community.

      • Shragi December 26, 2012, 5:53 PM

        Nah, it’s just the last paragraph of the post reminded me of that old joke.

        BTW, since your website redesign there hasn’t been a button to follow comments by email, at least on mobile. May have to get that web guy on retainer after all.

      • Shragi December 26, 2012, 5:56 PM

        Also I meant to say; I think it would actually be cool to be gay – it would make going OTD so much more natural, the family wouldn’t fight it, the community would be happy to see you go etc.

        • Anonymous December 27, 2012, 1:00 PM

          Yeah, but what if you* wanted* to be FFB and not go OTD?!

          • Shragi December 27, 2012, 4:23 PM

            So if you were gay, FFB and didn’t want to go OTD? Then you’re screwed, metaphorically of course.

  • Sheva December 25, 2012, 4:35 AM

    Ok just to put this out there. Sometimes I go to the Bais Yaakov women’s only pool , and it is women only so the circumstance is diffrent but……. I will wear a regular old one piece I got at Target, but with a tichel. Many of the Frum women there do not cover their hair, and look at me like I’ve lost it, but I cover my hair all the time including when I sleep. So I just don’t feel comfortable with uncovering my hair. I’ve always learned that they are two separate Mitzvahs and two separate meanings. In this world we are all trying to fit find out what works and what doesn’t. We all want to be close to Hashem but we all want to do it on our own terms.

    • tesyaa December 25, 2012, 4:43 AM

      I understand you don’t ever want to uncover your hair in front of others, but if you wore a rubber swimming cap, no one would stare. Unless wearing a tichel is the point.

      • sheva December 25, 2012, 6:07 AM

        I guess if i was actually swimming but usually im just chasing kids 🙂 so a tichel feels better.

        • Anonymous December 25, 2012, 9:20 AM

          if you don’t want to uncover your hair, do what my wife does, shave it off

  • Challah Maidel December 25, 2012, 4:44 AM

    I agree how people decide to live their lives is no one else’s business. But people are naturally prone to judge, especially in extraordinary circumstances. Having said that, if you are representing a religious community and practice, you should dress and behave in a manner as such. I don’t agree that its appropriate for a married Orthodox to be wearing a snood/sheitel and a bikini at a public beach. It invokes confusion on how she wants to be perceived as well as sending mixed messages. Its not any different than seeing an Orthodox looking Jew at a porn shop. Does it personally offend me that people want to live a double standard life? No. Is modesty overrated? In some ways yes. There is more to Judaism than skirt lengths, hair coverings, or whether its appropriate for an Orthodox woman to wear a bikini at a beach. It may seem scandalous and hypocritical to you but so does molesting a child and asking him/her to give you a blow job. Which is worse? Flashing your tits on a public beach or forcing little children to give you oral sex?

    • Heshy Fried December 25, 2012, 11:33 AM

      Do I even have to answer that?

      May be one of the weirdest questions ever…it’s doubtful that anyone would think it’s worse to flash your tits on a public beach than molesting a child. In fact there’s not much wrong with flashing your tits on a public beach, you may even make some people happy.

    • Sarah June 2, 2013, 2:46 PM

      Modesty is NOT overrated! Tzniut is a beautiful aspect of Judaism that brings Frum women great joy. We know we are dressed to serve Hashem. Halacha is Halacha, these are the laws of Torah and they are always relevant.

      • Anna Klava June 2, 2013, 3:45 PM

        Nah. Tznius is a way for rabbis to tell you, that you are on a higher madreiga and therefore victim blame women who show the tiniest bit of elbow for causing them married men and bochrim to sin. This practice in religion actually very ass-backwards. I’m not saying dress next to nothing, but over-the-top-modesty standards brings men to become sexually repressed and act out inappropriately. That’s why they keep saying to cover more inches, and dress in more boxy/tent clothing.

        Honestly I don’t see the point. Wearing pants and short sleeves does not make thou a whore who sells herself for a living. (OTDer here.)

  • MCR December 25, 2012, 4:51 AM

    …which reminds me. A friend of mine works for a well-known, Hassidic-owned electronics store. He told me that on their web site, they’ve just deployed an alogrythm that looks for any pixels in photographs that are skin colored, and turns them black. Apparently this is their way of digitally keeping things Snius.

  • no brainer December 25, 2012, 9:00 AM

    Tefach b’isha ervah!

    Shmuel, you don’t even begin to be right. Unclad skin of a woman -of area women usually cover is just as much ervah as any other ervah.

  • Rob December 25, 2012, 9:33 AM

    I’d love to see someone try to pull that off 100 years ago. They would be tarred and feathered twice, first because they are being a whore, and second because they are being too froom!

  • jo December 25, 2012, 10:21 AM

    Why was her husband at the pool?

  • ariel December 25, 2012, 12:47 PM

    There is a great book which everyone should read: Understanding Tzniut: Modern Controversies in the Jewish Community… by Rabbi Yehuda Henkin.

    Regarding hear covering, there are many Orthodox rabbis (including Rav Soloveichik) whose wives did not cover their hair.
    Many say it is not halacha, but minhag; and even if it is halacha, the idea is to cover one’s hair “as done in the local market place”. Since my local market place is the mall in a Western country in 2012 where women don’t cover their hair, it’s questionable whether it is necessary to do so…

    • Anonymous December 27, 2012, 1:04 PM

      Besides the fact that you could buy a wig which makes you look MORE attractive than your natural hair. That would be me, for example: I’m balding and what little hair I do have is nothing to write home about. I’m a man, but all else being equal…

    • 45 December 29, 2012, 12:02 PM

      There’s also the opinion that reb yishmael in the gemara is talking about going out with ‘wild hair’ not uncovered hair, this explanation is similar to what rashi explains on the word ‘efura’ in parshes soiteh (reb yishmael in the the gemara uses the same word ‘furea’)

  • Elad December 25, 2012, 6:31 PM

    I’m pretty blown away that basically every commenter seems to have missed the point of this post. Do you guys just come here to rant?

    • Soapboxer chossid December 25, 2012, 8:06 PM

      Wow. I didn’t realize there was a post. I thought it was just a title and then we comment on it. Cool. Lets read it.

      • Elad December 26, 2012, 5:31 PM

        Glad I could make a difference.

    • Huh December 26, 2012, 12:08 AM


    • Michael K. December 26, 2012, 7:18 AM

      Nu, what’s wrong with ranting?

  • Ruven December 26, 2012, 10:15 AM

    My wife has a female friend who admits that she wears a bathing suit with her hair covered when in Miami, but when she is not in Miami she is so strict about tznius that once I accidentally saw her barefoot and she got so embarresed that she cried.

    • Michael K. December 26, 2012, 12:48 PM

      Sounds like she’s got more issues than Mishpocha magazine….

  • Sarah June 2, 2013, 2:32 PM

    A truly religious woman would never dress as such a whore. The comments you people make about women’s bodies are disgusting, you should be ashamed! Tzniut clothing gives us pride and dignity.

    • Anna Klava June 2, 2013, 3:49 PM

      I’m sorry but wearing pants/bikinnis/showing elbows or knees do not equate to whore. Your view is the one that’s really horrifying.

      Rabbis are telling you to dress tzniuisly because they are truly victim blaming women for causing men to sin. How ass-backwards is this? Very, if I do say so myself. There’s nothing wrong with dressing the way you want, and I’m not talking about dressing like a cheap hooker, I mean what normal people wear that aren’t orthodox! I’m not saying that women have to dress like a tent/box with over-the-top modesty standards, but if you cover too much to the point of discomfort in the summer it is literally making the orthodox men more prone to blame you for leaving a half an inch less uncovered because they felt so aroused by your bit of elbow or knee showing. Really?

      Who’s the one that is misguided here?

  • Zev June 2, 2013, 3:43 PM

    Sarah, you seem uptight. Calling those who dress less tzniut than you do, a ‘Whore’ suggests that you’re lacking pleasure and happiness in your life. Come on over and unwind with me…

    • Anonymous June 2, 2013, 3:52 PM

      I agree. I feel like shit when I hear my fellow OTD females are asked “How much” while passing men in williamsburg when they are simply wearing pants that aren’t even tight and short sleeves. Those orthodox guys who ask that are the one’s that are warped and the same ones who are enforcing such stringent modesty rules.

  • frum swingers June 2, 2013, 4:05 PM

    when my wife and i play around with other people, she always keeps her tichel on…

  • Anonymous June 2, 2013, 7:28 PM

    Isn’t hair covering d’orisa? Probably like a tefach of covering but still…

  • daniel k August 28, 2013, 5:37 AM

    why does it bother you so much how frum people live. what is it your business if she is wearing a bikini. Also the hair covering has nothing to do with anything maybe she was covering her hair for a different reason. either way how about you stop looking at other peoples wife’s and focus on your own.

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