Jewish Tattoos

In Judaism, God instructed Moses to let the assembly of Israel know the following (among many other things of course): “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves” (Leviticus 19:28, New International Version). That seems pretty clear, although it does get much debated.

Tattooing, in that context, was apparently a ritual performed by peoples who associated it with some belief system. That type of ritual would have been thoroughly prohibited. But what about tattoos that are devoid of religious content or that actually use Jewish symbols? You can see how the debate might rage.

Star of David Tattoo Design

Star of David Tattoo Design

Of course, one of the reasons that a debate exists at all is the plain fact that Jewish people get tattoos. Numerous Jewish symbols have been used in tattoos including the Star of David, the menorah, the conquering messiah, even the name Yahweh (sometimes called the tetragrammaton when spelled with the four letters YHWH) — perhaps in Hebrew calligraphy.

Yahweh Tattoo Design

Yahweh Tattoo Design

The Hebrew consonants YHWH spell the name of the God of the Israelites as revealed to Moses. Although it was eventually considered too sacred to speak, it has not escaped use in tattoo artwork and is typically done in Hebrew letters.

Menorah Tattoo Design

Menorah Tattoo Design

The menorah is a candelabra with eight branches which is associated with the Jewish faith and thus it symbolizes Judaism. It is most closely associated with the Festival of Lights, also known as Chanukah, to celebrate the dedication of the new altar in the Temple at Jerusalem in 165 B. C. E.

Enneagram Tattoo Design

Enneagram Tattoo Design

The enneagram, or simply the nine pointed star, is used and viewed in many ways. In Christian symbolism it stands for the nine gifts of the spirit: love, happiness, peace, patience, leniency, benevolence, loyalty, humbleness, and temperance. In Kabbalistic (Jewish mystic) symbolism, it represents the very essence of being.


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