I have had my hair in dreadlocks for the past four years, which essentially means I have a head full of knotted hair. Attached to my dreadlocks are a number of string wraps and wooden, metal and glass beads. I wash my hair normally with shampoo and I never remove the string or beads, even while in the shower.
I just got engaged and was wondering if I will encounter problems at the mikvah for both my hair style and decoration. I understand the halakha to be that anything that is permanent and is not normally removed is not considered a hatzitza. Is this true for my hair?
Thank you for your question.
Mazal tov on your engagement!
A foreign substance on the body that is permanent and never removed is not generally considered a barrier to immersion. However, this is only true if the substance does not cover a majority of the body and if a majority of women would not be bothered by such a substance.
According to most opinions, the hair is considered a separate entity from the body. Thus, if the majority of the hair is knotted and water can not reach the individual strands (or if there is a foreign substance on the majority of the hair), it is considered a chatzitzah (barrier). Furthermore, if the majority of women would mind this and want it removed, it is also considered a chatzitzah.
Unfortunately, because most women do not wear dreadlocks and would mind having them, and also because the majority of your hair is knotted, it would not normally be permitted to immerse with your hair in dreadlocks.
We urge you to discuss this issue with your kallah teacher or local rabbi or mentor for individual guidance.
Please feel free to get back to us with any further questions.
This internet service does not preclude, override or replace the psak of any rabbinical authority. It is the responsibility of the questioner to inform us of any previous consultation or ruling. As even slight variation in circumstances may have Halachic consequences, views expressed concerning one case may not be applied to other, seemingly similar cases.
If you have further questions or comments about this email, please click here to Ask the Yoetzet.
The Nishmat Women's Health and Halacha is a public service of Nishmat, The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women. This project and others like it are made possible by contributions from people like you. If you have benefitted from the service, and wish to enable us to help others, click here to donate.