Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rav Chaim Kanievsky: Treating infertility IVF

SEE Excellent summary Jewish Action

43 comments :

  1. Funny since so many Rabbanim disagree with him. When speaking of spiritual damage especially considering the former Zaken HaMekubalim and Rosh Yeshiva Bet E-l(who was also the teacher of the likes of Rav Yosef, Rav Kaduri, Rav Mordechai Sharabi and I believe Rav Hillel) says in his Teshuvot Yaskil Avdi Even HaEzer 80(I believe) that there would only be spiritual damage if the donor was a non-Jew. If it is of the husband and wife, there is no problem.

    Also considering that the Prophet Yermiyahu was concieved(according to Chazal) by "artificial insemination" I have a hard time seeing that it would cause spiritual damage of any sort. Could a spiritually damaged person ascend to the level of a Navi?

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  2. Isn't common practrice contra to the opinion of Rav Chaim and his father?
    What does Shaare Tzedek hospital, etc allow?

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  3. Is "If I am destined to bring forth children by angering you" the correct translation?

    Reading the hebrew, the "proof" seems to employ circular reasoning.

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  4. Doesn't the midrash seem to be saying "If I will have children who will anger you" rather than "conceive them in a way that angers you"?

    Seems like circular reasoning to me.

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  5. http://bechollashon.org/about/team.php#zarchiBio

    Why is the Vaad Hakashrus of Northern California's Rabbi Shlomo Zarchi ...

    http://www.bechollashon.org/projects/abayudaya/abayudaya.php

    ... on staff with this group "Bechol Lashon" that supports the Conservative movement's embrace of Black Africans who claim to be Jewish?

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  6. For me it is like this. Considering all of the Gedolim and sources to which he is running contrary, I would just expect that he would bring something more than "My father said so" as a reason.

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  7. The midrash may be found in BR 44:9, not 4:9.

    If one reads it, along with other sources that quote it (Rav Tzaddok, Minchas Yitzchok, Toras Chaim), it certainly seems that if refers to bringing forth children who are destined to anger Hashem as opposed to a PROOF that ivf CAUSES children to turn out bad.

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  8. Even though other, even the majority of poskim may differ, Rav Chayim will always follow his father and for him that is the only Daat Torah.

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  9. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yermi-brenner/israeli-orthodox-rabbi-se_b_581098.html

    Israeli Gay Orthodox Rabbi Seeks Recognition

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  10. From what I have been told, Rabbi Eliyashiv is not against it, and certain (frum) experts in IVF actually consult him personally for advice to remain within the halacha with their practice. Is this true?

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  11. There are a lot of opinions that disagree with this. The point of just publishing this opinion is what?

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  12. Mekubal said:
    Also considering that the Prophet Yermiyahu was concieved(according to Chazal) by "artificial insemination" I have a hard time seeing that it would cause spiritual damage of any sort. Could a spiritually damaged person ascend to the level of a Navi?
    ===========================

    Mekubal, I think that you were a bit hasty to comment.

    According to some sources, Ben Sira was conceived "artificially" from Yirmiyahu's seed.

    Ben Sira never ascended to the level of prophecy.

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  13. Explanation for David.

    Reb Chayim posits that the children will surely be spiritually blemished. He does not quote any source for this.

    I presume that it follows from the previous paragraph, where the Steipler stated that it's assur to conceive children in this manner. This being said, then it would follow that children brought into the world in an "assur" manner would come out "blemished".

    Reb Chaim then brings the Midrash, which he reads to imply, that if bringing children into the world involves (an action) that angers Hashem then it would be better to remain childless.

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  14. DP:
    Did his father interpret the midrash as he does?

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  15. Given the significant number of children born to frum oouples using assisted reproduction, I wonder if anyone has noticed a trend that their behavior has been more antagonistic to Hashem than children born through unassisted methods.

    Surely, there is enough data by now, given the thousands of children and decades of experience.

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  16. When Bill Clinton tried this, the Mississippi river had the worst mabul in a century.

    And look which "Observant" ausvarf is behind it in the Senate. The ausvarf Yossel Lieberman who is allowed to speak from the bimah in the Westchester beis medrash of the Gateways "kiruv" organization.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/us/politics/25tell.html?hp

    WASHINGTON — President Obama, the Pentagon and leading lawmakers reached agreement Monday on legislative language and a time frame for repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, clearing the way for Congress to take up the measure as soon as this week.

    If it passed, the measure could enable gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military as early next year

    In the Senate, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, intends to introduce the language on Thursday in the Armed Services Committee. In a letter to Mr. Obama on Monday, Mr. Murphy, Mr. Lieberman and Senator Carl M. Levin, the Armed Services Committee chairman, announced support for the proposal and asked the White House for its “official views.”

    Already this year, the administration has taken significant steps toward doing undoing the policy; last month, the Secretary of the Army, John M. McHugh, said he was effectively ignoring “don’t ask, don’t tell” and had no intention of pursuing discharges of active duty service members who have told him they are gay.

    But full-fledged repeal, which requires an act of Congress, has been moving slowly. Gay rights advocates are especially concerned about having a vote before the November midterm elections, when Democrats are expected to lose seats.

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  17. David,

    I'm not taking sides on the question of the halachic appropriateness of assisted reproduction. I'll leave that to the realm of the Poskim, who are more qualified to weigh in on this issue.

    However, I think that your suggestion of employing statistical data to test the accuracy of Reb Chaim Kanyvsky's statement is not very practical.

    Reb Chaim stated that children conceived in such a fashion would be spiritually blemished. How would you propose to quantify this? What observable features in a person would you identify as due to this "spiritual blemish"?

    The mere observation that a person is antagonistic to Hashem, MIGHT be an indication that this person is "spiritually blemished". However this potential blemish might manifest itself in numerous other ways which we are not aware of. Therefore, without a clear criteria for measuring "spiritual blemishes", this proposed statistical study is doomed to failure.

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  18. Mequbal,

    The Prophet Yermiyahu was NOT conceived by "artificial" means. You might have been thinking about his alleged son "Ben Sira".

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  19. To Spiritual:

    Let us agree then that the vaddai blemish is not manifest in ways that anyone familiar with these children could possibly detect, but that Rav Chaim is unequivocably certain about it nonetheless.

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  20. I believe that Rav S. Z. Auerbach was also against IVF.
    I don't understand the criticism of R. Chaim. He can hold what he wants.
    Finally, it's well known that many IVF centers add booster sperm to the mix. In reality you never really know who the father is. At least Sharei Tzedek [I don't know who else] has a mashgiach to ensure that this doesn't happen.

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  21. To Anonymous:

    Rav Chaim is certainly entitled to hold whatever he wants.

    I was merely trying to put his words into perspective, both in terms of the midrash he quoted and in the certainly he has as to the metzius, that the child will be certain to anger Hashem and certain to have a spiritual blemish.

    As for the "booster sperm" argument, firstly, IVF is available under the auspices of Machom Puah, which ensures no such occurrences. And, secondly, given that IVF is done due to a physiological issue that the woman has, rather than a problem that the husband has, I am wonder if you could share with us why "booster sperm" (whatever that means) would be added, how common this practice is, and how you know that this is true.

    As for RSZA, while he refused to take a public position on IVF, he did respond affirmatively to those who asked him personally. In other words, not only did he grant permission on an individual basis, he never issued an unequivocal declaration as the certainty that it was forbidden, nor did he issue an unequivocal judgment that the resulting children would be a curse rather than a blessing.

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  22. Spiritual & Ben Sirah

    Yes it was Ben Sirah, however the meforshim still say that it was a nes(which is by definition something HaShem performs)... So why would HaShem perform a nes that was contrary to his nature.

    Spiritual, as far as it causing a spiritual blemish, my take on that is that it is possible. Rav Ovadiah Hedayya actually spends a rather large Teshuva in Yaskil Avdei talking about it(it covers four Gemarra sized pages) and there is he brings various proofs from Kabbalistic sources as to when it would and would not cause a spiritual blemish and how to go about the whole deal in a way that is "Kosher". Length and his varying answers are why I haven't copied it here.

    Anonymous-
    Do you have the source for SZ Auerbach, if so I will look it up.

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  23. David,

    Rav Chaim may or may not have special capabilities of recognizing spiritual blemishes in a person. However he may employing a logic format as follows:

    Given: Conceiving children this way is assur (based on Steipler's ruling).

    Given: The well documented idea that children conceived contrary to the Torah carry a "spritually blemish" (examples: mamzer, ben-niddah, benei teisha middos).

    Therefore: Children brought into the world in the "assur" manner of assisted reproduction also come out "blemished".

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  24. Mekubal,

    I'm not sure which meforshim you're referring to, however I seem to remember that this is regarded as an example of "nisabrah be'ambatyah', which is a physical reality (granted with unlikely odds) but does not necessitate the occurrence of a miracle.

    As to why HaShem would perform a nes that was contrary to his nature, this question is equally applicable to mamzer and ben-hannidah, why would Hashem allow conception (a "nes nistar") to take place under such circumstances. This question is answered by many seforim in the context of the above mentioned examples. According to the Steipler and Reb Chaim their answers would be equally applicable.

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  25. David,

    You understood R. Chayim to be saying that that the child will be certain to anger Hashem.

    I understood him to mean that the mere act of bringing children into the world in this manner angers Hashem.

    He then brings the Midrash, which he reads to imply, that if bringing children into the world involves (an action) that angers Hashem then it would be better to remain childless.

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  26. David,

    You understood R. Chayim to be saying that that the child will be certain to anger Hashem.

    I understood him to mean that the mere act of bringing children into the world in this manner angers Hashem.

    He then brings the Midrash, which he reads to imply, that if bringing children into the world involves (an action) that angers Hashem then it would be better to remain childless.

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  27. Spiritual:

    Interesting that you bring up the ben niddah idea, as I understand (from a Google search, not from seforim) that the Steipler felt that one need not assume that a ben niddah has a spiritual blemish and that one can rely on the metzius, that is, what one sees before you. A shidduch should not be rejected, therefore, for this reason.

    I therefore wondered why the same ctiteria were not being applied to the IVF child, rather than state that, relying upon the same Steipler, that the IVF children would be a certain curse.

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  28. Anon:
    Please read the midrash (hebrew version).

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  29. Spiritual:
    But, when it comes to Ben Niddah, the Steipler himself held that one cannot assume spiritual blemish and that there was no reason to reject a shidduch on that basis.

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  30. David,

    You understand Reb Chayim to be saying that the resulting children would be a curse rather than a blessing.

    He never said that the resulting children are a curse, or that they are cursed. He also does not preclude the fact that their coming into the childless family may be viewed as the greatest blessing. He was not going there at all.

    He only stated his opinion that the resulting children would be [spiritually] blemished. He opines that this alleged metaphysical fact obligates the potential parent to act accordingly and desist from such attempts.

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  31. Anonymous comments will be rejected so please add a name other than anonymous

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  32. >He then brings the Midrash, which he reads to imply, that if bringing children into the world involves (an action) that angers Hashem then it would be better to remain childless.<

    Why don't we weigh the good that countless descendents can produce against the original sin the couple made?

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  33. "Reb Chaim stated that children conceived in such a fashion would be spiritually blemished. How would you propose to quantify this? What observable features in a person would you identify as due to this "spiritual blemish"?"

    If 'spiritual blemish' (whatever you are saying that is) is not quantifiable and has no observed differences that manifest in physical behavior, then what is the nafka mina? Why should anyone avoid producing children with "spiritual blemish" if there will be no physically manifested nafka mina and they can be and do actions just as righteous as anyone else?

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  34. "Reb Chaim stated that children conceived in such a fashion would be spiritually blemished. How would you propose to quantify this? What observable features in a person would you identify as due to this "spiritual blemish"?"

    If 'spiritual blemish' (whatever you are saying that is) is not quantifiable and has no observed differences that manifest in physical behavior, then what is the nafka mina? Why should anyone avoid producing children with "spiritual blemish" if there will be no physically manifested nafka mina and they can be and do actions just as righteous as anyone else?

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  35. Student V,

    The answer to your questions is as follows:

    The "nafka mina" is in "metzius". A spiritual blemish is a metaphysical reality whether or not a person is aware of it or not.

    When a person commits a sin his soul becomes blemished. Even if he doesn't feel it. He looks in the mirror and he looks the same. His friends see him and they're not aware that he committed the sin. But his soul is still blemished.

    The same is in the case of a child born with a spiritual blemish. He may go through life being affected by this blemish in various subtle ways while being totally unaware of its effect.

    I personally feel that spiritual blemishes DO HAVE physical manifestations. They may manifest themselves in a lack of ability of the person to comprehend Torah on a deeper level, or in an unusual disposition towards committing sins, or in some other manner. Nevertheless, for statistical purposes these manifestations can't be measured or quantified, since we don't have tools by which to determine what is the driving force behind the particular manifestation.

    Finally, a person should avoid producing children with "spiritual blemish" even if there will be no self evident physical manifestation. Everyone understands that a person needs to avoid producing a mamzer even if there will be no physically manifested nafka mina. Reb Chaim is asking us to understand that this concept also applies in the case of assisted reproduction. [No, Reb Chaim doesn't mean that the child thus conceived will be a mamzer. He just means that he will carry an inborn spiritual blemish].

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  36. Rabbi EIdenson: As Reb Moshe's indexer - can you cite a psak on this?

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  37. 1. Do we know what the Steiplers issue was with IVF? Reb Chaim doesn't say.
    2. Does all IVF include Hafraya and Hashbacha? What about Artificial Insemination?
    3. Are there any very clear written psakim from poskim like Rav Elyashiv and Reb Moshe?
    4. With utmost respect, I am trying to under stand why you think that Reb Chaim Shlita would want to publicize such a potentially painful letter.

    And, out of curiosity: Is this a new letter?

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  38. I wonder why the translator associated the process described by Rav Chaim with IVF.

    Als, what would the hashbacha of the zera mean -- and why would it be assur to chemically enhance the sperm's motility?

    I would have to guess that Rav Chaim believes that the hashbacha consists of secretly mixing in another man's semen and that the husband only "thinks" that it was his own sperm that made his wife pregnant.

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  39. Spiritual:
    1)The reason one doesn't wish to produce a mamzer is because an open halacha from the Torah tells us not to, not because it's better to be childless than to produce a child that's spiritually blemished.

    2)How could Rav Chaim be so certain that thre is, in fact, spiritual blemish when his own father would not say that regarding a ben niddah, whose birth resulted from a clear Torah prohibition, not just a minority opinion founded on no apparent sources?

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  40. It is assur to withhold Torah from a Jew.

    "Torah tziva lanu Moshe, Morasha kehilat ya'akov"

    Share with me the reasoning for making this assur.

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  41. As someone who has struggled with his wife to have children, this is (a) an insult and (b) completely insensitive to modern reality. I hope that this opinion is relegated to where it belongs.

    It is opinions like this that causes Torah Observant Jews to distance themselves from Haredi rabbis, and these rabbis should better think about the consequences of their statements, and that certain humras lead to increased leniencies.

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  42. This is complete rubbish. I know plenty of ivf babies that bring much pride and glory to god. It's unprovable nonsense.

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  43. Kalonymus AnonymusAugust 11, 2019 at 2:55 PM

    There is no argumentation. At best, he's relying on the steipler, at worst he's making it up. He provides no solution to the problem. Pru urvu is a mtzvah. Ivf Is more about the woman than the man.

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