Friday, May 18, 2007

Ancient Jews with Ancient Tattoos

Tattoo Star of DavidPhoto is courtesy of "minicloud" who published it on Flickr.
Professor Meir Bar-Ilan sent me a translation from Hebrew of his (surprising!) article titled: Jewish Magical Body-Inscription in the First and Second Centuries. Here are some excerpts:

(Ezekiel 9:4-7)… And the Lord said to him, "Pass through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and you shall mark a sign upon the foreheads of the men who are sighing and moaning over all the abominations that were done in its midst." …This indicates that a mark on the forehead was a symbolic guardianship protecting the righteous, … Seemingly, the symbol inscribed upon the righteous was the last letter in the ancient Hebrew alphabet. 

Several hundred years after Ezekiel, we encounter the ritual of marking the righteous – described as an event –in Revelations, a book authored around the end of the first century, the last book of the New Testament. The prophesizing author repeats his description several times and in various forms (7:3, 9:4, 14:1, 17:5, 19:12,16, 20:4, 22:4.). These verses prove beyond any doubt, that the author of this book availed himself of previous Jewish sources on the subject of marking the forehead as well as other subjects, and he treated the markings as an actual event…

Chapter three of Mishna Makot…Evidently, according to R. Shimon, it is prohibited to tattoo the name of God on the body – and this seems to him to be the plain sense of the verse – but an ordinary tattoo, has no prohibition…

From here is evident, that the Rabbis were not only aware of the tradition to write the name of God on the body, but that they contended with it in their legal writings…

The Israelites would wage battle with no arms, only with the name of God inscribed on their bodies as it says in Deuteronomy. After they sinned God’s name peeled away – the guardianship signifier was removed, and therefore the Israelites perished.

Holocaust, Dick Ben Dor

Yellow Badge Israeli art
The picture is courtesy of the painter, Dick Ben Dor, who wrote to me that it is 1.40 meters high. (The translation is mine)
It starts in the bottom of the paintings in the most black periods with rivers of Jewish blood which continue in all the periods while every layer is a period, but the blood current continues. In the top we see the state, and the pink upward indicates the hope to a better future and prosperity.
Copyrights: Dick Ben Dor , 2007

Robert Fisch

Yellow Badge artPhoto is courtesy of Robert Fisch who sent me the following caption:

In my book "Light from the Yellow Star - A Lesson of Love from the Holocaust" I have painted the illustrations because I felt that, as one who was there, I could justifiably attempt to describe the desolation of those who were part of the Holocaust. The intent of the book was to make an imaginary walk of a reader through the Jewish cemetery near Budapest where my father is. In the cemetery Holocaust memorial walls are names of those whereabouts are known by location contain biblical quotations.
Page 34-5

In this painting I used barbed wire to illustrate ghettos, concentration camps, isolation. Even outside there is no hope. The shred of yellow star represents being branded and tattooed. It suggests loneliness, deprivation of dignity, and the residue of the survivors; tattooed persons become merely numbers in sequence, impersonal objects, no longer individuals. Red typifies the existence of horror, torture, suffering, bleeding. Black symbolizes hopelessness, despair, death. Even after death there is no peace. Each line, form, and color is a different shade of sorrow.

I have tried to give the illusion of walking with me in the cemetery to share how I felt and what I felt among the weeping gravestones -in reality and in my dreams. Let these words be the flowers for those who did not return.
Dr. Robert O Fisch

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