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According to the gemara in Makkos 21a, it seems that the biblical prohibition of tattoos only extends to tattoos made for religious purpose. However, the vast majority of poskim all seem to imply that there is at least a rabbinic prohibition of tattooing anything else. Where is the rabbinic prohibition recorded?

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What's the chronologically first opinion to say there's a rabbinic prohibition? – Avram Levitt Mar 19 '14 at 0:06
I saw a tosafot in Gittin that says this clearly. I also recall seeing sommewhere on this site that even a tatto that say 'I am Hashem's' is prohibited. – Baby Seal Mar 19 '14 at 0:26
Rashi in your source says it too – Baby Seal Mar 19 '14 at 0:32
judaism.stackexchange.com/a/11794/4682 doesn't source it, though... – Baby Seal Mar 19 '14 at 0:34
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Mishnah Makkos 3:6 and Gemara 21a;

Yerushalmi Makkos 3:6

Rambam (Avodat Kochavim 12:11) and Shulchan Aruch (YD180:1; Shach 180:1) both rule that one has only done an aveira if one both pierces the skin and adds colour.

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Do they specifically say that there is a difference between any sort of tattoo and one containing religious references? – Avram Levitt Mar 24 '14 at 11:50
that isn't one of Rambam's criteria: "כתובת קעקע" (ויקרא יט,כח) האמורה בתורה, הוא שישרוט על בשרו וימלא מקום השריטה כוחל או דיו או שאר צבעונין הרושמין; וזה היה מנהג הגויים שרושמין עצמן לעבודה זרה שלהן, כלומר שהוא עבד מכור לה ומורשם לעבודתה. ומעת שירשום באחד מדברים הרושמים אחר שישרוט, באי זה מקום מן הגוף, בין איש בין אישה--לוקה. – Zvi Mar 24 '14 at 20:36

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