A while ago I wrote a passionate article why I’m divorced and covered my hair. Here it is. I got a few “love you, Sarah, but totally disagree” comments, a couple of “totally agree” comments, but most people just said…. “whatever makes you happy, dear.”
Well, dear, let me tell you what now makes me happy.
For four plus years after my divorce, I continued to cover my hair because I really felt “it was the right thing” to do, with my entire shopping list of reasons why. Then one day I woke up and hated it. Hated that I still felt married. Hated that each morning I got angry that I covered it even though I don’t go to the mikveh and I’m not in a relationship. I woke up one morning and looked in the mirror and said for what? For whom? Why?
Then I kept my feelings to myself because nobody “judges” a person who changes their tune more than me. I believe when you really believe in something and even have the audacity to preach those sentiments, how could you suddenly wear a Yankee hat when you’ve been a Mets fan from day one.
The answer is that right isn’t always right and wrong isn’t always wrong. I thought I was doing the right thing by covering, turns out I was wrong.
It started off with meeting a friend who is divorced and recently stopped covering her hair and I said to her, “You seem to me like a person who asked for a heter before uncovering.” I was correct. Who, I asked her. She told me. Really? I smiled. This man is a rav I knew of, knew I respected, and felt I could approach. I felt I needed to ask someone that I wouldn’t be able to predict what the answer would be. The ambiguity of not knowing is what allowed me to approach him. I knew if I asked Rabbi A he would certainly say yes and if I asked Rabbi B he most probably would say no (and by most probably I mean definitely). So I wanted to ask a rav who I could not begin to predict what the answer would be.
I asked to make an appointment with this (Haredei) rav and my first question was, “Rabbi, is this is even a question I should ask?” Of course, he said. So I asked it. I let the question roll off my tongue as if I’ve been waiting to ask it for 4+ years.
Rabbi, can I stop covering my hair?
Well, said this very wise man, it depends.
And we talked. And talked. And talked.
Then, he called me complicated and followed that gesture with telling me it was a compliment. But I knew that already…
Then he said he needed to think about it. For two weeks, all I could think about was what he was thinking. I decided if he said yes, I wouldn’t listen. And if he said no, I would be relieved. Then I realized if he said yes, I would do it. And if he said no, I would be angry.
After a few weeks, he said, with conviction, I might add, yes.
How would I do it? Just one day get up and say “Hello world. This is my hair I’ve been covering for almost 10 years. Sorry to make you feel awkward, but too bad.”
Many people told me to do it slowly… in steps, gradual. But when I decide to do something I do it all away. So one morning, I woke up, got a kick-ass haircut, stuck some chemical-based money-making hair product in my hair and just like that, I was 18 again. Then I went to work. And shul on Shabbat. And my Haredei cousins on Hanukkah. And to the supermarket. And to my kids’ schools. And that was that.
One close friend asked me how could I make that change if I was, quote, “so passionate about covering?”
The answer is sometimes our passions are blindsided to what’s right for us as individuals. An animal activist can one day wake up and think, ya know? I would like to start rallying for underprivileged kids in Africa! Is anyone going to say to her, “But you were are so passionate about gorillas!” Umm, no.
So it’s not that I changed my tune, actually, I still agree with everything I said in the last article (almost). If I didn’t, how would I dare face myself in the morning? But that was the right thing then and this is the right thing now. For me.
And guess what? As weird as it was walking around feeling naked for a few days, I got used to it and so did everyone around me, and rather quickly I might add. But more importantly, it accomplished what it was meant to. People ask me how I feel about this change. The answer is: I finally feel really divorced. I am still a mommy, but I unattached myself from the bond which had been cut four years ago, but not severed with a chain saw. I walk around feeling free, single, young.
So. Now I uncover my hair. And until Prince Charming comes along, the shaitels and mitpachot are staying tucked away. And no, they are not for sale.