You Shall Not Tattoo - For Real?

On the website where this picture was originally posted, it was labeled as "Honor thy Father and Mother":

In reality, it says no such thing. This Hebrew tattoo in fact says: "You shall not tattoo", and it's written in Rashi Script of all things - an old Hebrew script used to write comments in religious texts.

Mind, the tattoo was not posted online by the owner, but by someone who just took a picture. It might well have been a novelty tattoo done on purpose, then regretted - leaving the owner lying about what it really says.

If it is genuine, though, and the owner is clueless, then someone really pulled one over on him.

This is why you should be vary of the advice that's often given online - to go consult with the nearest Rabbi about your Hebrew tattoo. I can totally see a pissed off Rabbi giving out this translation.

Right. Now if you actually wanted "Honor thy Father and Mother", it translates to Hebrew like this:


  1. Not only this, the formation is suggesting that this is a quote from the Bible, while the Bible is saying "ושרט לנפש לא תתנו בבשרכם וכתבת קעקע לא תתנו בכם"


    "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you"

  2. "e shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you"

    Has been misinterpreted for...probably centuries. It's not about's about worshipping the dead by marking your body FOR them (the dead). So unless your tattoo is a santification of a deceased're good to go.

  3. This verse had been interpreted every which way.

    "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am Jehovah."

    - Some say that it means you're not supposed to tattoo for the dead.

    - Others say the two parts of the verse are separate. You shouldn't cut for the dead and tattoo at all.

    - Then there's the approach that suggests you're only forbidden from tattooing God's name, because of the "I am Jehovah".

  4. actually, the original hebrew version mentions nothing about the dead specifically.

  5. .....what body part is this even on...?

  6. What "שרט לנפש" literally means is "a scar/cut mark for a soul". This passage actually does imply a Canaanite mourning custom of scarring oneself as a sign of grief, which is rejected in the verse. This is NOT a tattoo.
    Now "כתבת קעקע" literally means "tattooed inscription". So yes, this one DOES specifically mention tattooing.
    And as a completely secular, non-observant Jewish agnostic I would say the prohibitions of those customs are actually spot on, as far as I am concerned. Especially the second one which mostly serves as a medium for pretentious, vane and most of all incredibly stupid attempts at "self-expression" for those who do not understand what self-expression really means.


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