Tattoos Are Not For Jews


Recently there has been an upsurge in the popularity of tattoos. Some people like tattoos. Others find them utterly repulsive. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

If you are a Jew, and are considering getting tattooed, stop!

Big Red Stop Sign

Our Torah expressly prohibits tattoos: You shall not scrape your flesh for a (dead) soul, and tattoos do not put upon you, I am the L-rd (Leviticus 19:28).

This prohibition applies equally to men and women.

Why are tattoos forbidden?

There are those who say that this is a divine decree whose reason is unknown to us (Rashi on Tractate Makoth 21A). Maimonides writes that "...this was the custom of the gentiles that they inscribe themselves for idol worship that is to say that he is a slave sold and enlisted for its worship..."(Laws of Idol Worship 12:11).

Tattoos: An Abomination

Our sages looked upon tattoos as an abomination, as can be seen from the following Midrash (Tanchuma Lech Lecha 20): "...Yehoyakim stretched his foreskin as it is said (II Chronicles 36:8) And the rest of Yehoyakim's matters and his abominations that he did and that was found upon him.... What was found upon him? That he stretched his foreskin. And there are those that say that he tattooed himself."

Fashions Change

Now tattoos are "in". However, fashions do change and your fashionable tattoo will one day be very "out". When your shoes go out of style you just buy a new pair. Getting rid of a tattoo is not so easy.

People Change

Now you want a tattoo. In a few more years you may not want one. Your tattoo may cause you embarrassment or discomfort in the future.

Tattoos May Be Hazardous To Your Health

According to the AST Sports Science web site, recent research indicates that tattoos may damage muscle tissue. Tattoos can also interfere with MRI Scans. Finally, read what The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has to say about tattoos.

Tattoos May Be Addictive

Read about the tattoo junkies.

It's Just Not Jewish

The rank and file Jew, even those who were not devout in other matters, also considered tattoos as taboo. Just like Jews kept the positive precept of Brith Milah happily and sometimes with great sacrifice, so they kept the negative precept of "and tattoos do not put upon you."

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An Open Letter To The Jewish Knesset Members

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Alright, tattoos are not for Jews, but what is for Jews? Judaism! Visit PROJECT GENESIS, a great place on the web for learning about Judaism!

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