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Beauty is Pain: Examining Judaism’s Views on Cosmetic Surgery.

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Presentation on theme: "Beauty is Pain: Examining Judaism’s Views on Cosmetic Surgery."— Presentation transcript:

1 Beauty is Pain: Examining Judaism’s Views on Cosmetic Surgery

2 Torah Prohibits Intentional Injury! Bereshit 9:6 “One who spills the blood of man will have his blood spilt by man because man is created in the image of G-d.” Vayikra 24:17 “A man who hits the soul of another man will be put to death.” Devarim 25:3 “Forty shall he strike, him, he shall not add; lest he strike him an additional blow beyond these, and our brother will be degraded in your eyes. ”

3 NOSE RINGS IN THE TORAH o Bereshit 24:22 “And it was, when the camels had finished drinking, the man took a golden nose ring, its weight was a beka, and two bracelets on her arms, ten gold shekels was their weight.” o Shemot 35:22 “The men came with the women; everyone whose heart motivated him brought bracelets, nose rings, rings, body ornaments—all sorts of gold ornaments—every man who raised up an offering of gold to G-d.”

4 Prohibition to Self Wound  Rambam: Hilchot Chovel Vi’Mezik Perek 5 Halacha 1 It if forbidden to injury oneself or another because it goes against a lo ta’aseh in Devarim 25:3.  Shulchan Oruch: Choshen Mishpat Siman 420 Si’if 31 “Self-wounding”: even though it is not allowed, one who self-wounds is exempt (from paying damages); someone who wounds another person is obligated (to pay damages).  Baba Kama 91b The Gemara discusses whether one can harm oneself. The conclusion is the same as the Shulchan Oruch (above). However, self-injury is only forbidden if the injury is unnecessary.


6 NO Sheelot U’Tishuvot Tzitz Eliezer: Chelek 11 Siman 41 Rav Waldenburg forbids all cosmetic surgery. He says that elective surgery is forbidden because we are created bitzelem Elokim. Therefore, cosmetic surgery is an insult to Hashem because one is changing His work/decree. Rav Waldenburg cites Taanit 20b, which shares a story of Rabbi Eliezer. Rabbi Eliezer met a very ugly person and asked him if all the people from his town are as ugly as he is. The person responded that Rabbi Eliezer is insulting Hashem by implying that He made an ugly vessel. Rabbi Eliezer requested forgiveness. Sheelot U’Tishuvot Tzitz Eliezer: Chelek 12 Siman 43 Rav Waldenburg states that despite the minimal risk in cosmetic surgery, this form of risk is still forbidden. Shabbas 50b Can remove a scab in order to alleviate pain, but not to improve appearance

7 MAYBE?! Tosafot: Shabbas 50b—“Bishvil” Pain includes embarrassment. He mentions that if one is embarrassed to walk among people then cosmetic surgery is allowed. Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach—Minchas Shlomo Tinyana 86:3 “If the plastic surgery is done to prevent suffering and shame caused by a defect in his looks (for instance a nose which is very abnormal) this would be permitted based on the Tosafot and the Gemara, since the purpose is to remove a blemish. However if the only reason is for beauty, this is not permitted.” Rav Moshe Feinstein—She’elot U’Tishuvot Igrot Moshe Cheleck Chovel Vi’Mezik Siman 65-66 There is a prohibition of chavelah, self-injury, when one is wounding oneself in a degrading manner. However, if one is not doing so in a degrading way, it does not violate chavelah. He quotes Baba Kama 91b, which describes that Rav Chisda would lift up his garment when walking through thorn bushes so that his legs would be scratched, but his clothes would not be hurt. He reasoned that his legs will repair themselves, but his clothes would not. This source proves that cosmetic surgery is permitted. Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz: “How Jewish is Body Piercing?” Self-inflicted injury is taken very seriously in Halacha. Our bodies belong to G-d, and therefore, any masochistic behavior is prohibited. If body piercings is solely for the sake of beauty, it may be allowed. However, it is done to associate with a subculture of masochism and self-destructions, this would be asur, as it goes against the commandments to not self-wound.

8 YU CONNECTS Rabbi Mordechai Yaakov Breish—Cheklas Yaakov: Choshen Mishpat 31 Rabbi Breish comments on cosmetic surgery in the context of a woman getting a nose job to improve her chance of finding a husband. The issue of surgery is the risk and chavala. He says that the general population undergoes surgery for non-life- threatening conditions that have very low complication rates. He quotes Tihillim 116: 6: “Hashem protects the simple; I was brought low, but He saved me.” Rabbi Breish relates this source because Hashem watches over the simple in regard to low risk surgery. Therefore, one may pursue plastic surgery if the general population finds it to be acceptably safe.

9 *** *Piercings* Rav Yovel Sharlo: She’elot U’Tishuvot—Piercings On earrings and nose rings: “the idea is simple” there is no straightforward isur on earrings or nose rings. If one is doing it to follow in bad ways and to associate with something, then it is not allowed. However, if one gets piercings because one considers it to be beautiful, it is allowed. ”

10 CONCLUSION -condemnation of the Torah toward self-injury -not an ideal procedure -no one should feel and experience pain /embarrassment The conclusion seems to point to the necessity of people who are considering cosmetic surgery to think hard about the reasons for why he or she wants the procedure. If these rationalizations seem strong enough to outweigh straightforward Torah sources and are supported by poskim, like some mentioned in this presentation, then there seems to be room for cosmetic surgery. As G-d is the ultimate plastic surgeon, we are all created beautifully and there is no reason to inflict unnecessary pain.

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