Is Piercing Permitted?

I received the following message in my myspace account:

Date: Mar 1, 2005 10:48 PM
From: _________::”Are piercings okay? ”

Following is my reply:

Dear ________,

Thank you so much for writing.
The Jewish tradition has a very cool perspective on piercing, in my opinion. The Talmud discusses this very issue, and it was written almost 2000 years ago.

Piercing that women do customarily for beauty, i.e. ear and nose piercing, is totally permitted.

The only question comes from other piercing, whose aim is not necessarily for beauty’s sake.

In general, we try to protect/honor our bodies by eating right and taking care of ourselves. Piercing has potential dangers from infection and other complications. In addition, piercing has certain connections to practices and religious beliefs that are far from Jewish values. So Jewish tradition does not permit these, i.e. tongue, belly button etc…

If a person already has piercing, they should not feel that somehow they are less of a Jew, or a “bad” Jew. The reason why we do or do not engage in certain activities, is to achieve a heightened spiritual level, to pursue goodness and live meaningful lives. A pierce in no way excludes someone from the Jewish community.

I hope this helps you and I look forward to any other questions that you may have.

Best wishes and shalom

Rabbi Yonah