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!
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
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
Tractate Makoth 21A).
"...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
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."
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.
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
Brith Milah happily and sometimes with great sacrifice, so they kept the
precept of "and tattoos do not put upon you."