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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hebrew Inked Celebs: David Beckham

David Beckham, the celebrity football player and bearer of several multi-language tattoos, got a Hebrew tattoo to display his love of his wife Victoria. Or did he?


This tattoo is a correct rendition of a bible verse Song of Solomon 6:3, it says "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine. He browses among the lilies".

Does something seems amiss? You bet. This tattoo speaks of a girl's love to her male beloved. It unmistakeably refers to a man. The bad Hebrew tattoo strikes again.

Guys (the straight ones), do keep away from this verse!

20 comments:

  1. I'm not sure this is a mistake. I don't think we worry about grammatical gender when it comes to this sort of stuff. People say to their daughters "Yevarechecha..." We say to a mourner, even a singular female, "Hamakom yenachem etchem..." Etc.

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  2. Oh, it's definitely a mistake, as well as the cases you've mentioned.

    The Hebrew language, and the Tanakh in particular, are very gender specific. There are no two ways about it.

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  3. I disagree, I believe that choosing to get an exact quote from the Bible tattooed one one's body is a more correct manner to get a Biblical tattoo in contrast to messing around with the Biblical texts and adjusting the genders.

    One of the main reasons why so many people are ending up on your website is because they just do not research their Hebrew obviously but furthermore, they are messing around with the texts like you are reccommending and thus, ending up here.

    David already had one serious blunder as did Posh, his wife, and so since they both received matching tats from the same artists and therefore both deliberately chose to stick withthe original, exact text.

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  4. I agree with you that choosing an exact quote is better than modifying, that is why I didn't provide a correction for this tattoo.

    However, there is such a thing as inappropriate content, and this poem on a male - is it.

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  5. Oh, that's just a Freudian slip of Becks again.

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  6. poor becks... he got two wrong tattoos on his arm then... cause the sankrit/hindi tattoo says: VHiktoriya... I wonder what the "h" is doing there...

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  7. Actually, aside from the "He browses in the lilies" he did get this one right. Dod or Dodah are respectively male and female, however when you put them in the possessive they look alike.

    Also, again aside from the last bit, this is modern Hebrew colloquialism that essentially means "one hand washes the othher". Not sure that that is a resounding comment of never ending love, but it would be correct, and not out of place.

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  8. I could be wrong, but then so is Rav Shlomo Alkabetz

    לכה דודי לקראת כלה פני שבת נקבלה

    Come out my beloved, bride to be met, inner(light) of Shabbat let us receive.

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  9. @mekubal - You are wrong. Dodi can only refer to a male and not to a female. Dodi is the possessive of Dod, while Dodati is the possessive of Dodah.

    I think you don't understand the meaning of "Lekha Dodi" correctly:
    לכה דודי לקראת כלה פני שבת נקבלה

    This sentence says "Go my beloved towards your bride, let us receive Shabbat". It sounds like something a mother would say to her son. It speaks of a beloved and his bride, not a beloved bride.

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  10. Dodati is the possessive of Dodah. That was what I thought, considering that is the form used for the Yonati passage in Shir as well.

    As far as the Lekha Dodi translation, three different Orthodox siddurim translate it that way... so I bow to the scholars and Rabbis who made those translations.

    That aside like I said the Ani Ldodi v'dodi li today in Israel means "one hand washes another" or "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours". Why you would want that tatooed to yourself I don't know, but the current colloquial meaning seems to be rather gender neutral. Especially as the masculine in the Hebrew is also the neuter.

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  11. Oh, I don't have beef with the translation, just your interpretation of it. The "Come out my beloved" refers to a man, not a woman. That is all.

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  12. That's Ok it wasn't my original interpretation, it was the Ba'al HaTanya's in his commentary on the siddur. If I am not mistaken it is also the explanation given in the Artscroll... but that I am not totally sure about.

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  13. אתם טוחנים מים

    הקעקוע הזה בסדר גמור

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  14. It's very late, but I just now stumbled on this site. I would like to give a few remarks about the Lekha Dodi (probably to be read by nobody...).

    The text refers with "Dodi" to a male (this is just hebrew) and the male, as is generally in religious texts, is either "the Jewish people" or God. The bride is either the people (if the male is God) or Shabat (if it's the people).

    Some of the confusion might exist because for many things there are similar names in Hebrew in different genders. People (Am) is masculine, but nation (Uma) is feminine. The world can be Olam (masculine) or Tevel (Feminine), some names can even be both at the same time. Even God has a feminine name (Shkhina).

    By the way, you know that in orthodox view the songs of Solomon (Shir Hashirim) is about the love of the Jewish people to the Torah or to God? This people can be pretty weird when they try, and they do their best...

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  15. @Shmuel - It very well might. But Beckham intended his tattoo as a declaration of love to his wife.

    - If you see it as a love message speaking of a woman, it's wrong.
    - If you see it as a bible quote, it is correct.

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  16. Grammatically, you are 100% correct.

    However, in this particular instance, it is surely intended as a biblical quotation speaking of love.
    To render it as "Ani L'Dodati V'Dodati Li" loses the intent, as it is no longer recognizable as a (correct) biblical verse.
    I am certain that Becks' point was to express that his love for Posh is equivalent to the sentiment expressed by Solomon.
    (Because my parents have the four word phrase inscribed on their wedding bands.)

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  17. Actually, the last word is shoshanim, which is roses....not lilies. ;)

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    Replies
    1. Rendering Shoshanah as a rose is a modern thing. Certainly an accepted modern thing, but modern nonetheless. Lily may indeed be more correct, I don't know.

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  18. Perhaps Solomon 2:2 would have been a better alternative for him? Or they could have both done the cliché- a verse from 1 Cor. 13.

    In all honesty, though, the entire Bible is focused on man's relationship to God- not on man's relationship to his wife. Pulling anything out of context to refer to a spouse is bordering sacrilegious in my book even without changing it.

    Genesis 2:24 is about the only verse I can think of that a husband and wife could safely have tattooed on their arms.

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