Having a tattoo in a foreign language lends a certain amount of mystery to the tattoo, people will always be wondering what it says. This may explain why in Israel – where people understand Hebrew – it is more common to find tattoos in Chinese than in Hebrew. Not only the fact that others need to stop and ask what the tattoo means but also that the foreign language in question is an ancient one. Being one of the ancient languages Hebrew brings with it a complex and expansive history. Just the look of the Hebrew tattoo script conjures up images of Biblical forefathers, Israel, a time of miracles, Jesus, Kabbalah and even the suffering during the Holocaust.
In short the appearance of Hebrew letters is charged with cultural and spiritual emotions and a universal western experience. So if it is the fact that Hebrew is an ancient language that causes people to get Hebrew tattoos then why have Aramaic, Sanskrit, Akkadian, Atakapa, Adia or other ancient languages not become popular tattoo languages? Perhaps because although Hebrew is an ancient language it is not extinct. With some people (about 7 million) being able to read Hebrew the tattoo can be understood, explained and read by some. The mystic side of Judaism is the inspiration for many Hebrew tattoos.
A Kabbalah tattoo often includes one of the 72 names of G-d used in the Bible. Each name is associated with a particular divine quality. Another popular Kabbalah tattoo – the tree of life also is attributed with many meanings and mystic significance. The Kabbalah tattoo of a red string is said to protect against evil. In this way choosing a Kabbalah tattoo in Hebrew packs in more meaning than an English phrase could. A Hebrew tattoo expresses your deep spirituality.
Hebrew letters also have a numerical value, in fact Haradi religious Jews use the Hebrew letters to count with daily (instead of 1, 2, 3, they count aleph, bet, gemal) so when you get a Hebrew tattoo the letters you choose will have another level of meaning as each number also carries with it significance. Hebrew is also the original language of the Old Testament so there is religious significance. If a tattoo is going to quote a Biblical passage than it might as well be in the original language. Being the language of the Bible Hebrew also is considered “G-d’s language” and a spiritual language.
The original Biblical Hebrew is extremely poetic, more so perhaps than English. Putting ink to skin with a Biblical praise in Hebrew is a permanent commitment to the phrase’s meaning and an outward expression of inner beliefs. Hebrew script is aesthetic in appearance in the same way that Chinese, Arabic, Japanese and Hindi scripts are, in fact even if you don’t understand the meaning of the tattoo words you’ll admire the curves and swirls of the script.
The use of Hebrew letters and Hebrew script in Tattoos is rather ironic on one hand people are trying to be more spiritual and give their tattoo mystic significance and on the other hand tattoos are completely taboo in the Jewish religion. If you’re still convinced that you want a tattoo in Hebrew then at least make sure you get it done by a professional, and checked by a Hebrew speaker for accuracy before you put ink to skin.
Hebrew tattoos are all the rage in the last few years. Celebrities like Madonna and others have popularized what they call Kabala (it’s more like pop-kabala, but that’s a discussion for another day!) and this may be one reason why so many people are sporting Hebrew lettering on their bodies: Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Victoria Beckham all have one. Plus, some Christians seem to think tattoos of Biblical verses in the original Hebrew will look more authentic.
And some people just find them cool. But – are you really sure you want one? Here are a few reasons why it might not be so cool after all: If you don’t know Hebrew really well, how do you know what it is that you are getting permanently etched into your skin? Bad Hebrew tattoos happen so often that there are entire blogs and websites on the internet devoted to making fun of them – gross misspellings, backward letters, and sentences that do not at all mean what the tattoo victim thought it would. Many of the Hebrew designs available weren’t made by native Hebrew speakers.
What if the word now permanently inked on your body, which you thought meant “courage/strength”, turns out to really say “goat”? How do you think the woman who thought she had “beloved forever” on her lower back feels, now that everyone online knows it actually says “uncle world”? And transliterations – spelling English words with Hebrew letters – aren’t fail-safe either: I wouldn’t recommend writing “Mom” using the Hebrew alphabet, for example. In Hebrew, it spells mum – mutilated. (Rather appropriate, actually, for a tattoo …)
A tattoo is forever. Think long and hard before getting one in a language you don’t know. The Bible forbids tattoos – Leviticus 19:28 – in Hebrew or any other language. Tattoos were used by the Nazis to brand human beings like cattle. Getting a tattoo hurts, can take several hours and there is a chance of the wound becoming infected. If you decide five years from now you don’t like your Hebrew tattoo anymore, there’s no guarantee you can get it completely removed. Removal costs way more than getting the tattoo in the first place. By the way, the wide-spread belief that Jews with tattoos cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery is not true. While some burial societies may have imposed such a rule upon themselves, there is nothing in Judaism that forbids a Jew with a tattoo from having a Jewish burial in a Jewish cemetery.
However…if you decide to make a jewish tattoo, do it well! HebrewTattoo.net is the World’s most popular and widely used Hebrew lettering tattoo design and translation service on Internet. HebrewTattoo.net’s owner Joshua Andrews, has been featured in numerous International medias because of his extensive experience with creating Hebrew lettering tattoos and with the Biblical facts that have to do with tattoos.