Chapter: 05 – Procreation

01. The Great Value of the Mitzva

Procreation, being fruitful and multiplying, is a central mitzva of the Torah, and since it is the most basic goal of creation, it is the first mitzva mentioned in the Torah. At the end of the process of creation, we … Continue reading

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02. Ḥizkiyahu and Ben Azzai

When the mighty army of King Sennacherib of Assyria besieged Jerusalem, King Ḥizkiyahu of Yehuda fell ill, as we read: In those days, Ḥizkiyahu fell dangerously ill. The prophet Yeshayahu, son of Amotz, came and said to him, “Thus said … Continue reading

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03. The General Mitzva and the Individual Obligation

There is a Torah commandment to procreate. With every child a couple has, they fulfill a great mitzva and partner with God in the creation of another human being (Nidda 31a), thereby sustaining an entire world (m. Sanhedrin 4:5). This … Continue reading

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04. Having a Son and a Daughter

If a man had a son and a daughter but one of them predeceased him without producing progeny, according to Rav Huna he has still fulfilled the mitzva of procreation, as he maintains that the mitzva is fulfilled with their … Continue reading

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05. The Mitzva to Have Many Children

As we have seen (section 3), people fulfill an important Torah commandment with every child they are privileged to have. Nevertheless, the Torah established an obligation for every Jewish man to have one son and one daughter. The Sages (Yevamot … Continue reading

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06. Two Tiers of the Rabbinic Mitzva

As we have seen, there is a Torah commandment to have a son and a daughter, and the Sages expanded this and enacted a rabbinic mitzva to have additional children. At first glance, it would seem that there is no … Continue reading

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07. The Age of Marriage for Men

Although at the age of thirteen a male becomes obligated to fulfill all the mitzvot, the Sages say that the ideal age for a male to get married is eighteen, and no later than twenty. This delay is because he … Continue reading

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08. Coercion to Marry

Shulḥan Arukh rules, “It is a mitzva for every man to marry a woman when he is eighteen…and under no circumstances should he pass the age of twenty without a wife. If a man passes the age of twenty and … Continue reading

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09. The Age of Marriage for Men (In Practice)

Based on the Talmud, some prominent poskim write that a man may delay marriage until the age of 24 for the purpose of Torah study or if his financial situation does not allow for earlier marriage (Yam Shel Shlomo; Birkei … Continue reading

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10. The Age of Marriage for Women

As we have seen, halakha establishes eighteen to twenty as the ideal age for men to marry, with a delay until 24 under extenuating circumstances. In contrast, halakha does not establish a specific age for women to get married. The … Continue reading

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11. The Age of Marriage for Women Nowadays

Over the past several centuries, as the economic situation improved and stabilized, eliminating the need to marry off young girls to ensure their sustenance, the practice ceased to exist in most countries (AHS 37:33). Rather, marriages were generally arranged after … Continue reading

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12. The Responsibilities of Young Adults, Parents, and Society

The mitzva to get married poses a great challenge today for young people, their parents, and society as a whole. Young adults are expected, within a few years, to form a Torah-based worldview, acquire a profession that suits their talents, … Continue reading

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13. The Permit to use Birth Control for a Year

In the past, most women nursed their children for about two years, and nursing would almost always prevent ovulation and menstruation. Consequently, a woman could not become pregnant while nursing, and there was thus a natural gap of about two … Continue reading

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14. Birth Control for Two Years or More

Prior to the fulfillment of the mitzva of procreation, contraceptives should not be used for more than a year. However, some women, because of their physical or emotional state, need a break of more than a year after giving birth. … Continue reading

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15. Birth Control for Newlyweds

Under normal circumstances, a couple may not use contraception if they have not yet had children, because the mitzva of procreation is an absolute obligation meant to be fulfilled within a certain time frame. Thus, the Sages state (Kiddushin 29b), … Continue reading

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16. Contraception After Fulfillment of the Torah Obligation

Some authorities rule stringently that even after a couple has fulfilled the Torah commandment of procreation by having a son and a daughter, contraception is still forbidden, because the Sages ordained a mitzva to have as many children as they … Continue reading

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17. Birth Control Methods

Halakha prohibits the wasting of seed, so even when contraception is permitted, it is prohibited to prevent pregnancy by means of coitus interruptus (above, 4:1 and n. 1). Likewise, having sexual relations with a condom is prohibited, for the man … Continue reading

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18. Birth Control Pills and IUDs

Birth control pills are meant to be taken orally every day. The pills contain hormones that either prevent ovulation or prevent the implantation of the egg in the uterus. It is also possible for these hormones to be delivered through … Continue reading

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19. Spermicides and Diaphragms

There are two contraceptive methods that are halakhically controversial. One is the use of a spermicidal foam, gel, or suppository that a woman inserts into her vagina before sexual relations. The second is the use of a diaphragm, a shallow, … Continue reading

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20. Asking a Rabbi

The generally accepted instruction, as written in most responsa that deal with questions of this sort, is that a rabbi should be consulted on all questions involving contraception and birth control. Since the subject is complex and the consequences are … 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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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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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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