Author Archives: shlomit12

14. Multifetal Pregnancies

Sometimes, as a result of fertility treatments, a woman becomes pregnant with multiple fetuses. Carrying two fetuses is not considered especially risky, as some women have twins without medical intervention. Even carrying three fetuses is generally not considered especially risky, … Continue reading

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13. A Pregnant Cancer Patient

If a pregnant woman has an aggressive form of cancer, she may abort, because pregnancy causes cancer to metastasize more quickly. Even if the abortion will not save her life, but only slow the spread of the disease and prolong … Continue reading

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12. The Mother’s Health and Financial Considerations

As we saw (section 1), if a pregnancy endangers the mother’s life, she may abort. However, poskim disagree concerning cases in which the pregnancy is not life-threatening, but rather exacerbates a preexisting condition, like if the mother already has an … Continue reading

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11. Unplanned Pregnancy and Possible Pregnancy from Rape

An unmarried woman with an unplanned pregnancy may not abort her perfectly healthy fetus. However, in pressing circumstances, when the pregnancy is likely to cause her psychological difficulties, abortion can be permitted within the first forty days from conception. As … Continue reading

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10. A Mamzer Fetus

If a married woman had relations with another man, or was raped and became pregnant, the resulting child is a mamzer or mamzeret and may not marry a born Jew. (Although it is permissible for a male mamzer to marry … Continue reading

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09. The Desirability of Prenatal Testing

As we have seen, some poskim prohibit abortion even when the fetus suffers from a serious illness. Many of them add that the mother should not do prenatal tests, as it would be pointless; even if the tests showed the … Continue reading

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08. Credibility of Doctors and Consultation with Rabbis

For all questions regarding abortion, it is imperative to seek the opinion of an honest doctor who relates with reverence to the potential life of a fetus, and then to consult a rabbi who has expertise in these issues. Unfortunately, … Continue reading

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07. Concern About Defects in the Fetus

Thus far we have discussed cases in which a fetus clearly suffers from a specific condition. However, sometimes all that we can know is that a fetus is at risk of being ill. For example, if the mother contracted German … Continue reading

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06. A Down Syndrome Fetus

People with Down syndrome have an extra chromosome, which leads to intellectual and physical disabilities of varying severity. They have distinctive builds and facial features, and are at increased risk for certain illnesses and defects, including heart defects and duodenal … Continue reading

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05. Aborting a Fetus with Tay-Sachs

Tay-Sachs is an incurable genetic disorder caused by the lack of the vital enzyme hexosaminidase-A (Hex-A). Those born with the disease begin to lag in their physical and intellectual development starting at about six months old. This is followed by … Continue reading

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04. The First Forty Days and the Subsequent Stages of Pregnancy

The earlier the stage of the fetus’s gestational development, the more room there is for leniency in allowing an abortion. Conversely, the more developed the fetus is, the higher the degree of life it exhibits, and even the most lenient … Continue reading

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03. Abortion for a Great Need

As we have seen, if a pregnancy endangers the mother’s life, she may abort (m. Ohalot 7:6). There are other scenarios in which the permissibility of an abortion is less clear, for example, in a case where the mother’s life … Continue reading

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02. The Prohibition of Abortion for Jews and Non-Jews

Although abortion is prohibited for both Jews and Noaḥides (i.e., non-Jews, who are obligated in the seven Noaḥide laws), there is a difference when it comes to punishment. A Jew who kills a fetus is not punished by a beit … Continue reading

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01. The Intermediate Status of the Fetus

One of the most difficult questions in Jewish law is: under what circumstances is terminating a pregnancy justified? Let us first review the basics. On one hand, it is clear that one may not kill a fetus, whether directly or … Continue reading

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08. Teaching Students

The Sages say, “One who teaches Torah to someone else’s child is considered by the Torah as if he gave birth to him.” Whereas Aharon gave birth to his sons, Moshe Rabbeinu taught them Torah, so they are called his … Continue reading

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07. Adoption

The Sages say, “One who raises an orphaned boy or girl in his home is considered by the Torah as if he gave birth to them” (Megilla 13a). This refers not only to an orphan who has lost both parents, … Continue reading

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06. The Value of Their Love and Joy

A couple that has not been blessed with children face a great challenge. Will they wallow in their pain, and lose their faith and joie de vivre? Or will they overcome their pain, increase their love for each other, fulfill … Continue reading

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05. Comfort for the Infertile

Sometimes all the prayers, repentance, intense Torah learning, and kind acts do not solve the problem of infertility. Months pass, years go by, and the couple does not conceive. It may be that their fate is sealed and cannot be … Continue reading

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04. Ḥanna’s Prayer

Ḥanna, who was barren, suffered so much that on the holidays she could not bring herself to rejoice before God in the Mishkan at Shilo. While her family ate the meat of the sacrificial offerings and rejoiced, she withdrew and … Continue reading

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03. Prayer of the Childless

Prayer is so powerful that it can rip up a decree of childlessness and break through whatever is blocking conception, as it is written: “Yitzḥak pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the … Continue reading

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02. The Effort of Repentance, Torah, and Kindness

It is a mitzva for every couple that has difficulty fulfilling the mitzva of procreation to avail themselves of all conventional medical methods in order to have children. While doing so, they should have faith that everything is under God’s … Continue reading

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01. The Pain of Infertility and Its Causes

The suffering of the childless is intense. The Sages say, “A person who has no children is considered to be like the dead” (Nedarim 64b). They base this on the verse, “When Raḥel saw that she had borne Yaakov no … Continue reading

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06. “A Monument and a Name”: Daniel, Ḥananya, Mishael, and Azarya

A saris has a choice: he can sink into the pain and despair of knowing that he will not leave anyone to carry his name forward, or he can link his life to the eternally holy, thereby gaining an everlasting … Continue reading

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05. The Prohibition on Female Sterilization

The prohibition of sterilization applies to women as well as men, but sterilizing a woman is a rabbinic prohibition rather than a Torah one. The Torah prohibits male castration, as it says, “You shall not offer to the Lord anything … Continue reading

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04. Practical Questions

A man’s reproductive organs may be damaged several ways; to determine whether a particular injury renders him a petzu’a daka, the general rule is that if he can sire children, he is not a petzu’a daka, and he may marry … Continue reading

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03. The Parameters of the Prohibition

As we have learned, a saris rendered sterile by human intervention may not marry a Jewish-born woman, but may marry a convert or a freed slave (m. Yevamot 76a).[2] We have also seen that the prohibition does not apply to … Continue reading

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02. The Prohibition of Marrying a Petzu’a Daka

A saris (a man who is sterile because any of the three parts of his reproductive system does not function) may not marry a Jewish woman, as it says, “No one whose testes are crushed (petzu’a daka) or whose penis … Continue reading

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01. Castration

The purpose of creation is to increase life in the world, as the Torah says at the end of the creation story: “God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and conquer it’” … Continue reading

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09. Noaḥides

The mitzva of procreation is relevant even to Noaḥides (non-Jews), as God said to Noaḥ and his sons: “And you, be fruitful and multiply, abound on the earth and increase on it” (Bereishit 9:7). However, the specific obligations that require … Continue reading

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08. Permission Not to Divorce

The Sages’ obligation for a man to divorce his wife after ten childless years can be very painful. Some men, including Torah scholars, despite their desire to fulfill the mitzva of procreation, found it very difficult to divorce their beloved … Continue reading

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07. Ten Years of Childlessness

The Sages assume that a husband and wife who have been married for ten years and have not had children will probably not have children together, so they declare that the husband must divorce his wife, pay her ketuba, and … Continue reading

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06. A Mamzer

The poskim disagree about whether a man fulfills the mitzva of procreation by having a son and daughter through an adulterous sexual union that renders them mamzerim.[6] Poskim also disagree about whether a mamzer has a mitzva to marry a … Continue reading

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05. Procreation for the Mentally or Psychologically Disabled or Ill

Those who are mentally of psychologically ill or disabled, namely, those who cannot take responsibility for care of children, are exempt from the mitzva to procreate. We can infer from the idea that marriage can be delayed until a man’s … Continue reading

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04. Additional Halakhic Questions

If an unmarried young man has cancer and must undergo radiation therapy and other treatments that may permanently affect his virility, it is a mitzva for him to provide sperm prior to the treatment, so that it can be frozen … Continue reading

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03. Genetic Diseases

It is often asked whether a man who carries a serious genetic disease is obligated to fulfill the mitzva of procreation in light of the real risk of having a child who suffers from that disease. Poskim disagree about this; … Continue reading

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02. Providing Sperm for Testing or IVF

When a couple experiences difficulty conceiving, sometimes it is necessary to conduct a semen analysis to determine whether there is male factor infertility. Other times it is necessary for the man to provide sperm for the purpose of IVF or … Continue reading

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01. The Duty to Use Medical Technology (IVF)

If it becomes clear, after reliable testing, that a couple’s chance to conceive naturally is very low, they are required to undergo whatever treatments are conventionally prescribed by medical practitioners in order to fulfill the mitzva of procreation by having … Continue reading

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23. Redemption Depends upon This Mitzva

Great is the mitzva of procreation, for through it Israel was redeemed from Egypt, as it says: “The Israelites were fertile and prolific; they multiplied and increased very greatly, so that the land was filled with them…. The more they … Continue reading

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22. The Blessing of the People and Inheriting Eretz Yisrael

Great is the mitzva to procreate, for through it comes the fulfillment of God’s blessing to the people of Israel, and through it the people of Israel inherit the Holy Land. God said to our patriarch Avraham: Raise your eyes … Continue reading

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21. Selling a Torah Scroll for the Sake of Marriage

Due to the supreme sanctity of a Torah scroll, the Sages say that it must not be sold, and that one who sells a Torah scroll will never see blessing from that sale (Megilla 27a). Even when the owner of … Continue reading

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