Way back in the day of the Torah women wore a lot of jewellery. They wore earrings and nose rings (and possibly belly rings and chains), anklets and bracelets and necklaces. They were adorned.
In parshat Chayyei Sarah (24:20) we read that Eliezer gave Rivka a nose ring and bracelets when he met her by the well, and knew she was the ideal wife for Yitzchak. Rivka Imenu, Rivka our foremother, wore a nose ring! (she probably didn’t wear stockings but that’s a conversation for a different time). If I walked into any RW yeshiva or Beis Yaakov with a nose ring, they would throw me out.
When did piercing noses and navels start to have such negative connotations? There is nothing in the Torah that prohibits women from piercing their ears and noses, there is no commandment of Thou shalt not pierce thy navel.
From what I have read, I understand that we are not to deface our body or render it so drastically different from the Tzelem Elokim that we were created in. (Image of God). Our bodies are a gift to us from God, and we need to respect that. We are forbidden from cutting the flesh – elective surgery might fall under this category. Tattoos are expressly forbidden min haTorah. I don’t believe this applies to piercings when they are done in moderation. I believe my earrings add to my personal beauty, in a similar way that make-up does. Make up isn’t banned because it might interfere with the way God created us. We use it to enhance what we have been blessed with.
My opinion? So long as one isn’t piercing just to thumb one’s nose at religion and to attract attention there is no aveirah. If you are doing it so you can wear short belly shirts and show off the navel ring – well, that contravenes the laws of tzniut.
I have several religious friends who have a belly ring. They keep it covered all of the time because of the laws of modesty. Does it make them any less of a person? Does it call their morals into question because they have a jewel in their navel? Maybe it opens the door to people’s curiosity IF they find out, but it doesn’t mean they are scum of the earth. When did people start labeling those with nose rings and body piercings as second class citizens?
As usual, I am curious what you, dear reader, think about the subject.