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    Rings in strange places – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. What does Judaism say about people wearing rings in their noses, tongues and other parts of the body?

    A. Piercing the ears was a mark of servitude in Biblical times (Ex. 21:6), yet ear- and nose-rings were often worn by women.

    In relation to men wearing such rings, one could cite the Torah’s prohibition against cross-dressing, i.e. males wearing women’s clothing and women wearing men’s (Deut. 22:5). This aims at preventing inappropriate sexual behaviour. It applies to items specifically associated with the other sex. But since earrings are not worn only by women, there is possibly no prohibition against male earrings, though rabbis would not recommend them.

    However, with regard to males or females with rings in their noses, navels, tongues and other parts of the body… here there definitely are halachic problems and it is not at all easy to find any grounds for a dispensation.

    The issues involved include hygiene: am I putting my body and health at risk by inserting rings in my person? There is modesty: am I uncovering parts of the body that should not be for general exhibition? There is the question of one’s priorities: should I not rather be working on my heart, soul and mind? Am I becoming a better person and a better member of society or am I simply advertising myself without doing much for others?

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