A tichel, also known as a mitpachat, is a headscarf worn by married Orthodox Jewish women. Tichels are worn because of the code of modesty called “tzniut” which calls for married Jewish women to cover their hair. These laws not only dictate the way in which Orthodox Jewish people should dress, but it also dictates the ways in which they should act. Most importantly, an Orthodox Jewish person should not act or dress in a way that brings too much attention to themselves.
A tichel is worn by folding the scarf into a triangle and placing the longest edge at the top of the head. You then take the two corners and tie them into a knot at the base of the neck. Finally you tuck the loose pieces until the scarf forms a neat low bun. These scarves come in different colors, and the exact styling of a scarf depends on the woman that wears it.
When discussing the tichel, it is almost inevitable to ask the question “Why must a woman’s hair be covered for her to be a dedicated follower of her religion?” It’s not a simple question to answer. Partially, it comes down to the sanctity of marriage. A woman’s hair is seen as a sensual part of her. So for Orthodox Jewish women, a tichel is meant to “hide” her hair from anyone who is not her husband as an act of modesty and respect. A tichel is different from a Hijab because Jewish women do not begin wearing this head wrap until they are married. For Muslim women, many of them start wearing hijabs during puberty. This difference emphasizes the role that marriage plays in the lives of Orthodox Jewish women.
Tichel scarves and head coverings have always been debated upon in the Jewish community. Some women believe that they do not need to wear a headwrap to remain modest while others are willing to go to this extent to be obedient of religious customs. Neither side is right or wrong, but it is important to be knowledgeable of how scarves have played a role in modern day religions.