Once every while a discussion arises about the way in which modern sheitel’s look like natural hair. And the reason for me mentioning this is because this and other associated topics are addressed by various commentaries associated with today’s daf (Nazir 28b).
To give some context, an element of the end-of-Nezirut ritual includes shaving one’s head – which then prompts the Gemara to consider how women would then cover their shaven head with a wig (פאה).
Interestingly, in terms of definition, the Aruch – which is a rabbinic dictionary written by Nathan ben Yechiel of Rome (1035-1106) – references our Gemara and then speaks of a פאה within the context of, ‘women who have lost some of their hair who take hair from other women and place them on their head so that it looks like their own hair’. What this clearly suggests is that wig-hair is generally intended to look like natural hair.
However, we should be wary when drawing conclusions from this statement as the case being discussed by the Aruch is the use of a wig by those who are experiencing hair loss, and not necessarily the case of a woman who wishes to cover her hair for religious reasons.
Still, there are those – such as Rabbi Yehoshua Boaz ben Simon Baruch (d. 1557), the author of the ‘Ein Mishpat’ (as well as ‘Shiltei Giborim’) – who write in their commentary to our daf that, ‘from here we learn a justification for the hairs (i.e. wigs) that married women put on their heads’
In contrast, there are others including Rabbi Yissachar Eilenburg (1550-1623), the author of ‘She’elot U’Teshuvot Be’er Sheva’, who strongly reject this conclusion (see Responsa No. 18), arguing that the case being discussed in the daf is not equivalent to the corollary drawn by the Ein Mishpat, and that whatever conclusions may be drawn from the daf about wigs do not necessarily apply to public spaces.
Admittedly, as is clear from today’s daf where reference is made to what people feel about others wearing the hair of others, it is almost impossible to have a discussion about this question without drawing on or expressing personal views and preferences.
Overall, the very fact that Massechet Nazir is a springboard for such a discussion simply goes to show that you never quite know how different halachot and mitzvot overlap.