By Rabbi Moshe Rosenstein
Jewelery with Pesukim
Due to the recent surge in popularity of jewelry that has pesukim engraved in it, it might be a good idea to go over some of the halachos that apply. One may not do something that is a bizayon – a disgrace – to any words of Torah. Therefore, when it comes to the question of jewelry with words of Torah inscribed in it, the halachos are as follows:
- If the bracelet or necklace or ring has a “saying” on it, even if it is in Hebrew, there is no problem at all. Something like “tamid bisimcha” or “ein davar omeid bifnei haratzon” that is not a pasuk or a saying from Chazal – and it is fine.
- The poskim say that even some lines from Chazal, if they are used commonly and not meant to be divrei Torah specifically, are also fine. For example, something like “im ein ani li, mi li” or “bimakom she’ein anashim, tishtadel lihiyot ish” would be permissible.
- If the ma’mar Chazal is not considered “a saying,” or if one would like a passuk engraved, the poskim say this really should not be done. It is a lack of kavod to the Torah (and some poskim feel it is an outright bizayon, a disgrace) to “use” divrei Torah in this way, and in addition, it is very likely that in having Torah engraved on a piece of jewelry, it may come to be in places or situations that it is not permissible to bring divrei Torah into (a shower or bathroom, for example – see below). Therefore, it is really best to avoid having an actual pasuk or Chazal engraved.
- Most poskim say that one may take a pasuk or ma’mar Chazal and change around the words in such a way that no three-word-in-a-row statement remains from the original version. For example, one may engrave “Dodi li, va’ani lidodi” instead of “Ani lidodi vidodi li.” If one is not sure how to do this, a rav should be consulted. [There are those who hold this is prohibited as well. I have been told that Rav Elyahiv, shlit”a does not permit this.]
- If one has a piece of jewelry like this already, it is permissible to wear it. However on must make sure that it does not come to any form of bizayon. One may not walk into a bathroom with the pasuk or Chazal on the jewelry exposed. For example, a bracelet must be pushed up the arm so that it is covered by a sleeve, or taken off an put in a pocket or purse.
- If the words on the jewelry contain the actual Name of Hashem, it is forbidden to wear the jewelry at all, regardless of whether it will be covered and regardless of the context of the words (even if it is there alone, and not part of a pasuk or saying from Chazal). It should be put somewhere that it will not come to any form of bizayon at all. For example, one may place the item in a jewelry box or the like and leave it there forever. This only applies to the actual Sheimos of Hashem, or abbreviations found in Tanach [like yud-heh, aleph-lamed, etc.]. Just the letter “heh” or “yud” or “daled” is fine.
As always, if you are unclear about this issue, a competent Rav should be consulted.