My friend recently had her child’s ears pierced. The baby is only four months old. I find this unsettling since the child is still very young. I would like to know what the Jewish religion says about ear piercing, or any other type of body piercing irrespective of age or gender. Can you also comment about what Jewish law says about body tattoos since this is a common practice among the generation.
The Jewish religion doesn’t have any problem with a woman piercing her ears, as this is done to bring out her womanly beauty. That being the case, even a young girl may look pretty. What we do have an issue with, is when the piercing is done, in order to portray an appearance of wildness, or when done to promote promiscuousness, and such behaviour. Just to give a clear example, piercing one’s tongue, or one’s eyelid with a safety pin, isn’t being done in order to bring out a woman’s natural beauty. It is meant to give over a message, “I am wild and open to such behaviour…”.
Having a tattoo, where the ink in injected under the skin, is biblically prohibited, as written in Leviticus 19-28, “and tattoos do not place within yourselves, I am your G-d”. There are certain things that will depend on the customs of the times, such as the prohibition against gender cross dressing, and the customs of the times can have an effect on what is considered a manly or womanly thing to do. However, regarding tattoos the Torah does not differentiate between its being the custom or not.