Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sperm Donations & Age of marriage / Tzohar

Bartley Kulp wrote:

Rabbi Eidenson,

this article from ynet is a few weeks old but I thought that it would provide fress fodder for discussion on both halachic and social grounds. Here is the link;
Tzohar rabbis say ‘no’ to sperm donations to single women

“A woman who decides to have a baby out of wedlock by means of a sperm donation is unbelievably cruel,” said Rabbi Nachum Rabinowitz, head of the Ma’ale Adumim Hesder Yeshiva and one of the most senior halachic authorities in the Religious Zionism movement.

In an unprecedented attack on this phenomenon, Rabbi Rabinowitz added that “bringing an orphaned child into the world is an unimaginable act.

“Whoever plans on having a baby like this by choice, just in order to fulfill her needs as a mother, has exceeded all evil and cruelty. A woman like this is not fit to be a mother for any human creature.”

The rabbi made this statement at the yearly summer conference of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, which took place Wednesday night in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Rabinowitz, along with Chief Ramat Gan Rabbi and Tzohar President Rabbi Yaakov Ariel and the head of the Har Etzion Yeshiva Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein, were asked to discuss the issue of “family, generation gaps and the modern world, in the conference’s closing session.”

Rabbi Ariel joined his predecessors and claimed that encouraging birth without marriage to begin with, grants legitimacy to late spinsterhood.

“You can’t help one person on account of another,” said the rabbi. “There is no such thing as a single-parent family, just like there is no square that is a circle. A family consists of a father, mother, and children.”

Last year, Ynet reported on Petah Tikva Hesder Yeshiva Rabbi Yuval Sherlow’s ruling that allowed single women 37 and older to bring children into the world and claimed that the child’s welfare should not be considered.

In light of the public stir caused by this ruling, Rabbi Sherlow committed to consult with his rabbi friends before announcing similar rulings in the future.

What is ideal marrying age?
During the panel on Thursday, the rabbis were asked what the ideal age is to get married. Rabbi Rabinowitz claimed that young people today reach puberty very early and emotional maturity arrives late, “when 20-year old boys are still childish.”

Despite the opposing trends, the rabbi thinks that people should wed in their early twenties even if they lack a profession and income since, “at the ages of 23 and 24 it is hard for a young man to find his match and he remains stuck in bachelorhood.”

The rabbi clarified, however, that a couple should not get married if one of the two are under 20 years of age.

As for postponing the first pregnancy, the rabbi said that every young couple needs to have a child, except for rare cases, and he is convinced that this “matures” the parents. He added that “postponing a first birth for an unlimited amount of time is a severe mistake.”

Rabbi Ariel claimed that nowadays it is difficult for a person to stand on their own two feet economically until the age of 30, since a profession must be attained throughout many years.

“In the past, we went to study at the age of 14, and matriculation exams ensured an income,” he said. “Today, even a Bachelor’s degree is not enough, and if you don’t have a Master’s and training, you will not be accepted to work.”

Despite the situation he described, the rabbi agrees that the perfect time to get married is in a person’s early twenties. He also called upon the next government to economically support young people in school and housing, so that they will be able to have children. “Our whole population needs to enlist to this and not only find good matchmakers.”

Rabbi Lichtenstein disagreed with Rabbi Ariel and claimed that “at the age of 21, there is no emotional maturity and there are identity questions.”

According to him, “Many people don’t know who or what they are in order to know who their partner is.” He refused to specify the ideal age to get married since “it is not possible to speak in generalizations."


  1. I think that I am going insane. On the one hand we make efforts to prevent single women from having an abortion. On the other hand we are condemning the efforts of some single woman to voluntarily have a baby. This in a country that is suffering from a demographic problem.

    One needs to examine the track record of single women who opt for getting artificial insemination. Usually they are older and they are usualy reletively well of financially.

    These are also not necessarily women who are trying to have their cake and eat it too. Many of these women would probably like to be married but for whatever reason have not found a suitable match. May be they might be divorced, however they do not want to lose out in the opportunity to have a child.

    Moreover they would usually be more appreciative of that child because they had to go through an extra ordeal to get them. I.V.F. is a physically and mentally difficult ordeal to endure. Someone who is willing to submit one's self to that means serious business of having a child.

    September 2, 2008 5:00 PM

  2. Bartley Kulp said...

    On the one hand we make efforts to prevent single women from having an abortion. On the other hand we are condemning the efforts of some single woman to voluntarily have a baby.

    I hope you realize that the two cases are not analogous. Abortion involves the killing of an existing child. No matter how unfortunate the circumstances of the child's conception or the child's family situation, the killing of a child is immoral.

    The second is the choice to conceive a child outside of marriage. Even if we avoid any technical violation of halacha in doing so, we are deliberately bringing children into an unhealthy environment.

    While I sympathize with the circumstances of these women, and I understand that their desire to have children is sincere, I don't see how we can justify deliberately bringing children into such a situation. There is a reason that we have to have compassion for orphans, they have been given a very difficult lot in life. Why would we do this on purpose?

  3. I am a forty-four year old woman who would much rather have a loving husband than have a child alone via a donor. However, I am divorced and it is difficult to find men who want to have children. My first husband was very abusive and refuses to provide timely financial support for our child. He is thousands of dollars behind, so I rely upon myself. I am a family-oriented person and want children. If I end up using a donor, which would be my last resort, I would choose one who is willing to be known to the child at some point. I do not understand modern man's aversion to family life. Children and family are a blessing.


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