If a Jewish person, for whatever reason lived alone/in isolation from other Jews/or was not known to many other Jews on his area, would it be permissible for such a person to have their burial wishes (taharah, no cremation, etc.) to be tattooed on their arm or chest? Is the potential of having a county coroner perform unlawful procedures on their body, etc. be enough to override the prohibition on tattooing the body? Why or why not?

[NOTE: I am envisioning a case with an older person who might have such a fear of passing away suddenly.]

  • 5
    Wouldn't it be more practical to engrave the instructions on a bracelet and wear it?
    – mevaqesh
    Oct 21, 2015 at 14:21
  • It's hard to imagine a situation in which the only way to prevent unlawful post-mortem procedures would be to get a tatoo. Given that, I think it's unlikely that anyone has ever dealt with an unsolvable conflict between these two Halachic issues in partcular.
    – Isaac Moses
    Oct 21, 2015 at 16:44
  • I was actually thinking of asking something along the same lines, although I would think to also include information like one's name for the purposes of erecting a matseva Oct 21, 2015 at 16:47
  • 5
    Why might you think this would be permitted?
    – Double AA
    Oct 21, 2015 at 17:20
  • 1
    @DoubleAA I think the question gives an (admittedly weak) explanation of why it might be permitted: to prevent violating a different prohibition (this question seems to assume that being buried improperly is a prohibition on the deceased).
    – Daniel
    Oct 21, 2015 at 17:28

1 Answer 1


There is a discussion regarding whether one is allowed to commit a less serious sin to prevent a fellow from committing a more serious one (see e.g. http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/ostroff/archives/shabbos3_39.htm#_ftn1). However, no one suggests that one can commit a sin to prevent one's fellow from committing a comparable or lesser sin. Therefore, one could not violate the explicit biblical prohibition of creating a tattoo to avoid someone else not performing the appropriate burial rituals once one is deceased. (It is also worth noting that one is no longer obligated in the commandments once one has left this world.)

  • What if there is a risk that one will be cremated? Oct 22, 2015 at 0:21
  • 5
    @NoachmiFrankfurt Better to be cremated having kept the mitzvot than buried having violated them.
    – Loewian
    Oct 22, 2015 at 0:28
  • I'm going to see my rav tomorrow, bli never, I'll remember to ask him after my chevruta for his opinion. Oct 22, 2015 at 0:29

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