I have been asked by someone about the sources for women's hair covering. Why do they have to cover their hair? Who has to cover her hair? When does the hair need to be covered? How much? and Where does it say so in the Torah?He then proceeds to not answer the questions.
In the Talmud, there are essentially just two [albeit separate] pericopes which discuss head and hair covering: one at Kesubos 7.6 (both Mishnah & the Tosefta) with the Talmudic commentary thereupon (in both Talmuds) and the other at Berakhos 24a (click here for these Talmudic sources).
Yesterday, I sat down with Rabbi Josh Yuter to read through some of the halakhic sources on head and hair covering for women, focusing on the Talmudic excerpts, though also reading briefly through the relevant passages on the topic in the Mishneh Torah and the Shulhan Arukh. As generally married Jewesses cover their heads/hair, it is pretty relevant for me, as I am getting married in four days to a young lady who has asked me about this particular topic.
While Josh emphasized the distinctness to me between these two pericopes which have been conflated in the halakhic literature (and I agree), I cannot entirely separate these two entirely in a descriptive fashion as they most certainly somehow be related. In other words, what it was that caused Rav Sheshes to read into the verse "your hair is like a flock of goats" (SoS 6.5 & 4.1) in order to make his hermeneutical read of "A woman's hair is a nakedness" (Berakhos 24a)? The book of Song of Songs is filled with a number of statements of the recognition of feminine beauty and yet only a few are selected to depict, in this section of Talmud, "nakednesses". I think there must have been something in the culture that not only was for a woman to contain her hair, but also a covering of it. Nevertheless, maintained Josh, was that, halakhically, these are separate discourses, which is certainly interesting.
Aside from the nakedness discussion is that of not covering it would be one of the things which goes against Jewish custom (one of four things [in the Mishhah] and one of five things [in the Tosefta]). In both Talmuds, the discussion takes on a spatial dimension as to where she must cover her head or not (and how). Thus, there is clearly a social (socio-religious(?)) element to a Jewish woman covering her hair (perhaps indicating that she is married(/taken))?
I see that JOFA has a listing of various articles and such on this topic and I hope to read through them in the future.