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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
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Think tattoos are forbidden? Reform Rabbi Says ‘Guess Again’

Chicago-based Reform leader has thriving career “explaining” Judaism to Christian audiences
Who cares if the Torah says 'no'?

Who cares if the Torah says 'no'?
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ever want to get a tattoo, but refrain from doing so? Fear no more! A reform “rabbi” has now ruled that “there is no blanket prohibition on tattoos,” and rabbis should consider why a person wants to scar their body before ruling out a tattoo.

According to Evan Moffic, Senior Rabbi of Congregation Solel in Chicago, Judaism maintains a “nuanced” view of tattoos. After all, says the “rabbi,” if Jewish law banned tattoos outright, then “survivors of Nazi concentration camps—whose arms were branded with a number—[would be banned] from residing in a Jewish cemetery.”

To back up his peak halacha, the rav cites two ideas: One, that tattoos smack of idolatry. “Some groups in the ancient Near East used tattoos as a way of worshipping gods. Egypt in particular had several gods whose images were frequently tattooed onto bodies and household items,”

Second, he writes that tattooing, does not serve the purpose of “devot(ing) out body to sacred service. Rather, like smoking or drinking, it involves unnecessary dangers, such as harming our skin or causing infection.

The halacic conclusion? “According to this point of view, the content of the tattoo is not as significant as the act of branding itself. The Law is not Black and White.” 

Funny enough, Harav Hagaon Moffic fails to cite the Torah verse (Lev. 19:28): “You should not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor imprint any marks upon you: I am the Lord.” Generations of rabbinic authorities have interpreted this verse as… how did the rabbi put it?… as a “blanket prohibition.”

But, hey, what’s an explicit Torah verse when you’re trying to make “Judaism” attractive to non-Jewish society?


About the Author: Meir is a news writer for JewishPress.com - and he loves his job.

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59 Responses to “Think tattoos are forbidden? Reform Rabbi Says ‘Guess Again’”


  2. Guy Peters says:

    There are too many tattoos
    Too many ” excuses”
    Reform ” revisionists” as this are totally wrong ,
    Yet I know of Orthodox Rabbis who encourage drug abuse ( not talking about Kosher Marihuana either)
    Tattoos are Kaka !
    Kaka !
    I loathe them.
    To each his own,
    Henna ” tattoos” can be ok ,they wash off !

  3. How people with slaves mark their property

  4. most of these European jews are going against Torah

  5. Tracy Ramsey says:

    Growing up, we just called ‘em Christians.

  6. Run Guo says:

    G.D of Israel says no tattoos. Full stop!

  7. Sobriety Jon says:

    It began that way and became a fashion but is unecessary.cult groups use it to identify their members

  8. People still mark their sex slaves with tattoos

  9. They are making everything acceptable to fit in with the world.

  10. Of course a Reform Rabbi would say that. They don’t follow most of the Halacha’s anyway.

  11. Karen Bryant says:

    People can twist anything to justify their desires and actions, but God’s words and commands remain the same forever. When we go against them it’s at our own risk of sinning against Him.

  12. Isaiah 44:5 “One will say, `I am the Lord’s’; another will call himself by the name of Jacob; another will write (my KJV says tattoo) with his hand,
    `The Lord’s,’ and name himself by the name of Israel.

  13. your KJV is mistaken.

  14. Please DONT bring Holocaust survivors into this argument

  15. Bill Ades says:

    The holocaust survivor argument is atrocious. There is a difference between being forced to the point of torture and death and doing it by choice. You need no other argument to show how low the reform movement has sunk

  16. and for his next revelation, he will explain why it is permissible to eat Chametz at the Seder : > }

  17. The Torah Doesn’t Give exceptions. BEWARE Of Those Who Change GOD’S Word!!

  18. Beware the Mark of The Beast!!

  19. Donny Reich says:

    KJV is just a faulty translation. Means nothing.

  20. Nathan Katz says:

    Is anything forbidden in Reform Judaism?

  21. One could say there are “blanket” prohibitions about many activities in Torah…homosexuality and cheeseburgers come to mind, and yet there are plenty of Jews who argue their way out of observing those nonos. Why the sudden hooha about tattoos?

  22. Donny Reich says:

    Right, so this guy knows more than thousands of years of Rabbis. And you wonder why Reform Jews are all assimilating and intermarrying!

  23. Donny Reich says:

    Can he even cite any halachic sources to back himself up?

  24. The reforn Rabbi has lost it……

  25. Your last line says it all. Thanks!

  26. Imho Moffic is ignorant of Jewish law and deficient in logical reasoning. The comparison of concentration camp numbers to voluntary tattoos is beyond odious, actually quite stupid. Additionally I have no idea of the source for excluding anyone tattooed from burial in sacred ground (with possible exception of some suicides). Getting a tattoo is a sin but so are many other violations such as Shabbat or kosher laws etc. Repentance for all of these is possible; also for permanent marking of one's flesh.

  27. I have a buttload of tatts and I converted.
    Folks that have beef with that can kiss my tuchus!

  28. for me, it was never right.

  29. His remark comparing getting a tattoo voluntarily and the forced tattooing of numbers on Holocaust victims is as shockingly disgusting as it is mind-numbingly stupid. No one should refer to this person as a ‘rabbi.’

  30. Look who it’s coming from reform “rabbi” isn’t that an oxymoron.

  31. Kay Xiarras says:

    tattoo are just stupid – Torah or not Torah

  32. Kay Xiarras says:

    thank you for pointing this out

  33. Morry Barak says:

    No such thing as a reform Rabbi, guess again.

  34. Alex Rivera says:

    The markings are prohibited if for the dead? Hmmm

  35. realy allways I want my name with hebraisch letters to t tatuate in my body,i I beleaved that The Torahprohibited this,in the case that not I WILL DO IT

  36. Oren Meldung says:

    and that’s why hes a reform rabbi… he might as well be a female rabbi… i’m not religious but even I know that what he’s saying is a fraud.

  37. Matt Porter says:

    Actually the KJV does not have the word “tattoo” in it…

  38. quran is so close to torah in the rules …even eating Pigs is forbidden in tow religions

  39. Uzi Kattan says:

    Reform rabbi or a liberal pretending to be a rabbi? The reform movement tried to replace Jewish Torah values from Sinai with progressive liberalism and failed. Their own followers have assimilated and their movement has self destructed. The Torah forbids tattoos in Parashat Kedoshim and if this joker wants to say they aren’t forbidden then he is dishonest.

  40. Yeah ok reform Rabbi says not even a Coservative Rabbi concurring – the controversy will continue in the Rabbinical ranks over this as it does with the if Daddy’s Jewish but Mommies not law too!

  41. While I don't support this decision there are many other 'explicit' commandments that the Rabbis chose to 'modify' or 'interpret' especially when it comes to penalties like 'stoning' etc, but as always people will ignore those and focus on the ones they wish to implement. I find his arguement about Shoah survivors obscene but so do I find putting reform in "parenthesis" indicating the same prejudice and stupidity they accuse the man of!

  42. Donny Reich says:

    Yes, perfroming mitzbot

  43. No tattoos. I also don’t approve of disks inserted in lips, penis gourds, bones through the nose, having shrunken heads, or wearing crosses. My tribe only does circumcision. ;-)

  44. MM – Your quran is nothing but the hate from your pedophile cult leader. Torah came from Hashem. There is no comparison.

  45. David Rose says:

    I don't want a tattoo and I certainly don't consider the Torah a 'pesky nuisance'. But other than that, how are you my friend? BTW, I was thinking of our conversations last week and I KNEW the stoning and death penalty was going to come up sooner or later. If I am correct, aren't those only sentences that can be passed by the Sanhedrin and since it is no more, even though the penalty is stated it can't be enacted?

  46. Tattoo's are forbidden but one can be buried in a Jewish cemetery if ones has a tattoo. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  47. Using concentration inmates having tattoos is definately not to be used as an example as they were tatooed not by choice but by force. Tatoos as far as halacha goes is taboo and we do not have to follow non-Jews for them to be attracted to us. As far as my belief and learning the law is very clear tattoos are forbidden to Jews.

  48. What do you expect from assimilate-at-any-cost Reform Jews?

  49. Uzi Kattan says:

    I live in Cincinnati the home of Hebrew Union College and the 'reform' congregations are fading away as their congregants intermarry and self destruct out of existence. In Hebrew there is a saying that falsehood has no leg to stand on and the 'reform' movement is falsehood.

  50. Uzi Kattan says:

    Concentration cam inmates did not have a choice to have numbers tattooed on their arms. Evan Moffic (Is he even Jewish?) is insulting the holocaust survivors with is idiocy.

  51. Kjeld Hesselmann says:

    Besides the downright ugly phenomenon to cut in human flesh and put ink on the Halacha is right. Jews should refrain from heathen ways of conducts.

  52. This bubble head Rabbi just looking to fill up his Congregation with a bunch of hippies who could careless about Jewish laws!

  53. The survivors Jews of the Holocaust did not choice to be tatted!

  54. Sorry, I meant to say chose.

  55. Meira Yolanda Lettieri says:

    Your KJV doesn't contain a Torah? First Five Books? The Rabbi tells you where the prohibition is found. Lev. 19:28 Maybe you need an Authorized version. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+19%3A28&version=AKJV

  56. Meira Yolanda Lettieri says:

    That's right. Just as they had no choice about being cremated which is also a prohibition for Jews.

  57. Meira Yolanda Lettieri says:

    David Rose They are.

  58. Meira Yolanda Lettieri says:

    Sientje Seinen Isaiah was a prophet and of course he obeyed Torah but no, he wasn't ok with tattoos. Subscribe does not mean to INscribe. it means to underwrite or sign one's name

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