When Madonna first got a tattoo just under a year ago, much of the world, including us, was surprised that the Material Girl had never been inked before. It just seemed unimaginable that the woman responsible for creating countless fashion trends had never been tattooed. But once she was, we knew she would come back for more.
This week Madonna got her third tattoo, a piece of Hebrew writing on her wrist. In a video posted to Instagram, she explains the significance of the piece and how it relates to her other tattoos.
“I’m finishing the trilogy of tattoos I plan to do, so this is my third,” Madonna tells one of her children. “Do you know what that means? It is the Hebrew word for kiss.
This is where things start to get a bit tricky. According to Israel Yahom, the translation may not be entirely accurate. The tattoo is from the word “Ve’yishakhu”, which means kiss, but it also has a very specific connotation behind it.
“Hebrew has a word for kiss (‘neshika’), and that’s not what the singer’s tattoo says,” says Israel Yahom. “‘Ve’yishakhu’ is taken from a verse in the book of Genesis. When Jacob leaves Haran, he is afraid to meet his brother Esau, therefore divides his camp of disciples into two. When the brothers meet, the Bible says : ‘Esau ran to meet him and kissed him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.’ (Genesis 33: 4)
“Not only can ‘Ve’yishakhu’ be literally translated as ‘and kissed him’, rather than the mere name for ‘kiss’, but this verse is also interpreted to indicate that Esau’s heart was not behind the kiss he bestowed on Jacob, “They continue. “In fact, ‘Esau hates Jacob’ is a saying used to express the feeling that other nations will always hate the Jews.”
So while technically correct, Madonna’s tattoo doesn’t necessarily represent the feeling she was hoping for. The tongue can be very tricky that way and it’s a very easy mistake to make. Have you ever tried to explain some of the quirks of English to someone, like how “lead” can mean common metal or give people direction? It’s a nightmare.
That is why, when you get a tattoo in a foreign language, you should at least do it by a native speaker. That being said, the intricacies of the translation will likely have very little bearing on how she interprets the heartfelt tribute to her family. When it comes to tattoo sins, it’s towards the bottom of the list. In contrast, what Madonna did next is much more glaring.
* Deep breath *
WHERE ARE THE GODDAMN GLOVES, MADONNA?!?!?!
Even though this was the very first time she had ever touched a tattoo machine, Madonna should have known that you shouldn’t tattoo without gloves. That being said, she wasn’t the professional tattoo artist in the room, it would be Ele Ramirez. Of course, it’s just a very quick little “X” on the hand. Yes, Madonna probably wanted to show off those awesome Keith Haring inspired nails. But come on, fuck it. You know better than that.
If we are to hold every fire kitchen magician for a glove-less tattoo, we have to have the same standards for the Goddess of Pop. “La Isla Bonita” slaps really hard, but bloodborne pathogens can kill you.
We hope this will serve as a learning experience for everyone involved. Especially the thing with the gloves. Ick.