Is a hairstyle grounds for divorce?


 says that if a wife “fails to please [a husband] because he finds something obnoxious about her… he writes her a bill of divorcement, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house.” Jewish law has extrapolated the rules for getting a divorce from this part of the Torah, but makes it relatively difficult to get divorced, in the hopes that people won’t rush to split up when they’re having a disagreement. After all, everyone can find something obnoxious about their partner at some point, right?

In one extreme situation, recorded in this JTA story from 1927, a man in Minsk wanted to divorce his wife because she covered her hair with a bobbed wig, which he thought made her look too masculine. He also objected to the short sleeve shirts she wore, saying they were immodest.

As you might expect, the rabbi who was consulted wasn’t eager to grant a divorce based on a hairstyle. He said that as long as the woman was covering her hair, she could have her wig in any style she wanted. And her sleeves? They weren’t really too short, according to the rabbi, so the couple was encouraged to try to work out their differences.

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