Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chasam Sofer: Why tuma is less for male child

Chasam Sofer (Vayikra 12:2): A woman who produces seed and gives birth to a boy. Rashi explains that if the woman produces seed first then she will have a boy... Also what is the reason that there is less spiritual impurity with the birth of a boy than for a girl? There is a need to examine  this since the impurity of nida and birth resulted from the sin of the Tree of Knowledge which is obviously relevant only for women and not men. So why do males  have the foreskin which is also from the sin of the Tree of Knowledge and not females? A possible answer is that the reason that the woman who gives seed first will give birth to a boy is because material from the woman and the man are intrinsically unique and distinct from each other. The nature of the male child is determined by the mother and that of the female by the father. Therefore when the woman gives seed first it is from the material that the woman received from the spiritual contamination resulting from the sin of the Tree of Knowledge which dominates the woman. It is from this impure material of the mother that the foreskin grows and therefore the male has the foreskin since the male is created from the material of the mother. This contribution of material by the mother has the consequence of reducing somewhat the mother’s spiritual contamination which resulted from the Tree of Knowledge. That is why after the birth of a male child she is spiritually impure for fewer days than after the birth of a female child. In contrast the material of a female child which comes from the father when he produces seed first does not contain any spiritual sickness from the Serpent and therefore the female child has no foreskin and thus the spiritual contamination resulting from the Tree of Knowledge is not reduced for the mother when she gives birth to a female child. That is why she is spiritually impure for twice as many days for giving birth to a girl than she is for a boy.


  1. Is this (in the Chasam Sofer's eyes) a scientific description or a metaphysical one?

    1. not sure that Chasam Sofer was concerned about that distinction

  2. of course we all know now,that the woman does not produce any seed,and that she becomes pregnant when the man's sperm reaches and fertilizes her monthly eggs,and the sex of the child is determined by the sperms chromosomes if they are x or y,
    therefore what was the purpose of this article ?

  3. I believe "produces seed" is code for "reaches climax". There have been scientific studies that have shown that the difference between base/alkaline content in male or female fluids can increase the odds for one gender or the other.

  4. I don't think anyone, including the Chasam Sofer would claim this to be a Masoretic explanation. If it is not, one is free to take it or leave it, especially if it contradicts science. There would be no need to attempt to reconcile this.



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