Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

A Jew is prohibited from tattooing himself. If a person with tattoos were to convert to Judaism, would they be required to have the tattoos removed?

Would a Jew who got a tattoo and later repented be required to have it removed?

share|improve this question
2  
I know a Baal Teshuva who still has a tattoo. He is a Talmid Hacham so it seems that there could be a Heter to keep it. –  Hacham Gabriel Mar 29 '13 at 16:22
    
Perhaps it is impossible to remove, and therefore it remains. However if it was possible perhaps he would be required to remove it. –  Gershon Gold Mar 29 '13 at 16:25
    
I just read a poem by Yehoshua November related to this in Jewish Action. –  Isaac Moses Mar 29 '13 at 16:59
1  
@HachamGabriel, my understanding (though I have no related experience) is that it is a very expensive and painful process that can take years to complete, and depending on where it is located, it might even be dangerous. –  Seth J Mar 29 '13 at 17:11
1  
My father had tattoos before converting to Judaism, and was not required to have them removed when he converted. When asked about his tattoos, he would tell people he was a non-Jew when they were done( and a fool besides). –  Tamir Evan Mar 30 '13 at 17:09

1 Answer 1

According to this article, Rav Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron (Techumin 22:387) viewed the removal of a tattoo as a meritorious act to avoid remembering a previous sinful life. However, Dayan Weisz (Teshuvot Minchat Yitzchak 3:11) does not (seem to) agree that this is necessary. (This is aside from the opinion of Rav Ephraim Oshry (Teshuvot Mee’ma’makim 4:22) that Holocaust survivors should not remove their tattoos (which may have a unique status).

All citations are found in the linked article. I have not looked up any sources inside.

share|improve this answer
    
Meritorious and required are very different things in halakha. So I am not sure there is a disagreement between Rav Bakshi-Doron and Rav Weisz. –  Rabbi Michael Tzadok Mar 30 '13 at 18:01

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.