Sometimes when I make berachos in the morning, my wife will walk in and her hair might be uncovered or she’s changing. Must I stop making berachos or look away? What are the criteria for berachos and shema regarding ones wife? Do I have to make berachos or shema again?

Answer:

It is not permitted to make berachos or recite Shema in front of the uncovered hair of a married woman, even if this is one’s wife (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 75:2; see Iggros Moshe, Orach Chaim Vol. 4, no. 15, who explains why even one’s wife’s hair is included in the prohibition).

Preferably, you should look away, and if this is hard, you can close your eyes. Uncovered hair (of a married woman) is an erva miderabanan, and it is therefore rabbinically prohibited to recite berachos in front of uncovered hair.

Yet, there are poskim who write that one may be lenient concerning reading the Shema or reciting berachos in front of uncovered hair (Aruch Hashulchan 75:7; Iggros Moshe, Orach Chaim 1, no. 42). One can rely on these authorities in extenuating circumstances.

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