Ever met a Jewish tattoo artist? I have. The differences between Jews and Christians, especially devout Christians really aren’t that big. Many Jews live fairly secular lives just like the average secular Christian. There are a few big ones – no pork, for example, which are obvious to spot but tattoos are also an “obvious” one.
Many devout Christians also don’t believe in getting tattoos and it’s all because of the same logic – Leviticus 28. According to this passage God commands us not to mark our skin (in remembrance of the dead). Boom. Simple. That’s it. Really.
Any religion which follows the old testament uses this passage as justification not to get tattooed, not just Jews.
And anyone who followed The Nanny, knows you can’t get buried in a Jewish cemetery with a tattoo.
There are other passages such as those about not defiling the body, but whether you believe a tattoo is defilement or decoration is often personal choice. The main reason is simply because of this one passage among thousands and there’s not a lot to counter it with.
For the astute reader, you’ve noticed that there’s also a quantification after the key statement in Leviticus 28. Just like many verses in the bible how much or how little of it you want to follow is often up to interpretation. In this case, you could say that it’s totally okay to get tattooed as long as you’re not getting anything for someone who is dead.
But The Tattoo Artist…..
This is also a pretty easy one to answer, not everyone is religious, and not everyone thinks sin means sin. For the average person, living a morally good life means they’re not sinful. In Nazi Germany Hitler forced Jews to get tattooed with numbers in an attempt to dehumanize them. It was also a way of branding them as “sinful” since it was against both Jewish and Christian beliefs. Just like modern Christians, modern Jews sometimes have tattoos because they don’t believe that they’re a sin.
If you have been following Spike’s Ink Master, you would have noticed Season 8’s Dave Robinowitz. While David Robinowitz sometimes describes himself as wild and brash, beneath that life-of-the-party demeanor is a self-described serious artist who is quite competitive. Robinowitz feels the combination of his BFA in Fine Arts plus his years of experience as a walk in tattoo artist gives him the ability to adapt to any situation and will help him dominate the competition. He wants to prove to the Jewish community and the community at large that tattooing is a legitimate art.
With Season 10, you will find a new Jewish artist Matt Buck. Buck long felt hostile toward religion and, until recently, much of his art included dark and “creepy” images, he said. But that changed after what he said was a profound experience he had on Sept. 1, 2016, just six months after No Idols opened.
On a walk with his dog, Meatball, that morning, Buck was thinking about how some biblical prophecies seemed to be coming true. He said he was struck by news stories about people having computer chips implanted in their hands, which reminded him of the “mark of the beast” described in the book of Revelation.
He was about to pass off his thoughts as coincidence when a woman walked by with a tattoo of a hamsa, a hand-shaped Jewish symbol. Buck’s father had given him a hamsa necklace as a kid, he said. Then he learned someone had booked him to do his first-ever portrait of Jesus that following Sunday.
“I can either go, ‘La la la la, I didn’t hear any of that,’ or I can humble myself and accept that the thing I hated most is the thing that’s true,” he said.
That prompted Buck to do historical research into Jesus, he said. Three months later, he joined Congregation Beth El of Manhattan, a conservative Messianic synagogue on the Upper East Side where congregants follow New Testament teachings and believe Jesus — or Yeshua, his Hebrew name — is the son of God.
After his spiritual revelation, Buck asked his rabbi whether he had to stop tattooing, as many consider a verse in the book of Levticus to prohibit the art. But he now believes the verse refers to an “idolatrous pagan ancestor worship, which is pretty far from contemporary tattooing for aesthetics,” he said.
Matt is an illustrator who was trained by some prominent names in that industry. Buck draws upon his rigorous training to freehand most of his work and refers to his style as “illustrative realism”. At just 28 years old, he is ready to prove to the world that he deserves the title of Ink Master. Follow him and all the others this Season on Spike/Paramount.
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