“Is Birth Control Kosher for Orthodox Jews?” Ep.2, Season 2

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Why do Orthodox Jews have so many kids? Is birth control ever allowed? Watch this video to find out.

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Allison About Allison

Allison is the Founder and Director of Jew in the City. Please find her full bio here.

Comments

  1. Thank you for addressing this Allison! I get so many questions from my (non-Jewish) friends about this when they find out I’m an Orthodox Jew. The average in our circles is about 3 or 4 so people wonder how they can be so well spaced, planned, and few when other families have so many. We’re not the Duggars! Jews believe children are blessings from Gd but that doesn’t mean we’re forced to go bankrupt (emotionally, financially, and spiritually) to fulfill the mitzvah!

  2. Super cute (is that your daughters’ media debut?) :) As a proud midwest Jew and a mall-lover, that mall looked a bit east coast to me! :) As always, thanks for you good work and information!

    • You’re welcome, KE.

      Karen, it is their media debut, though I’ve only allowed for them to dip a toe in the water due to their young age. There are both however in training to be JITC 2 and JITC 3 when they reach adulthood!

      Regarding the mall – the inspiration for St. Louis was a friend who just moved out there, but you’re right, alas, I’m still filming on the East Coast even if I pretend to be somewhere else!

  3. Only child says:

    While I applaud your efforts to explain our ways, as an only child from an orthodox family, I was offended with the assertion that you need 2 children to fulfill pru u’revu. My parents have been asked so many times why they ONLY have one child and they respond with, “we got the best right way.” They figure if people as so tactless, they can give it right back.

    • Only Child, I’m sure it was difficult having people be so tactless with your situation, and I imagine that you would have loved growing up with siblings – especially in a community where nearly everyone has them. People unfortunately say dumb things without realizing the pain their words cause.

      I’m sorry that you took offense by my “assertion” that one fulfills the Torah’s commandment to be fruitful and multiply by having two children (one boy and one girl), but it wasn’t a baseless assertion. It’s the *law* that’s brought down in the Talmud regarding this mitzvah.

      If a couple tries to have kids and have either none, one, or multiples of one gender (until they feel they need to stop having kids), none of them have fulfilled the mitzvah of being fruitful and multiplying.

      No one should judge them for not having fulfilled this mitzvah since they did their best to. We’re not all capable of fulfilling every mitzvah we set out to do. However, that doesn’t change the law.

    • StephensWoman says:

      Hello OnlyChild!

      I was wondering if you felt that it was proper of your parents to be tactless back to the other members of your community that were shaming them for only having one child?

      Thanks!

  4. a great video as always!

    …but as to the other commenter mentioning the Duggars: I don’t really understand what is wrong with the Duggars. They don’t seem financially, emotionally nor spiritually broke to me… If that is how many children have come to them and they are happy with it why should anyone have anything bad to say about it? I’m happy for them! I’m sure having that many children is challenging, but i bet it comes with many blessings that the rest of us will never see in our lives.

    anyhow that was a bit of a tangent and kinda off subject… heh But yeah, great video! :)

  5. Thanks- great video! I just had a guest over who questioned the ultra orthodox birthing machine- will pass on :).

  6. awww! the end of this video got me so emotional!

  7. Fantastic post!!

  8. Mommyof 5 says:

    As a Noahide family of 7 I appreciated this video as it is always hard to explain to others why we have 5 children(sometimes I have to explain it to myself as well, lol). This had such a positive message to it, I had to pass it on. Thanks again!

  9. I appreciate your educated, straightforward, and positive answer. I especiallly like the part with the potato chip bag because it was a brilliant symbol of how much effort we invest — and how much inconvenience we put up with — when going after materialistic goals, such as food cravings, money, appearance, etc. Yet we balk when it comes to children. (And yes, I’ve been on birth control, too. Avoiding a breakdown is good parenting!)

    One very important point, which I can see you know, but forgot to include: The benefit we get from each child is in the way we need stretch ourselves in order to deal with each particular child’s difficult aspects. Children don’t always hug us and say they love us. Sometimes they reject us. (Or we interpret their behavior as rejection, due to our own failings — which maybe we didn’t even know were there! And now that we do know, let’s get to work…) Or sometimes the hug and adoring look is accompanied by, “Mommy, when I’m this close to you, I can see that it’s time to bleach your mustache again.” (This happened to a friend of mine recently.)

    I have two children with personalities I couldn’t relate to at first, but after lots of work, I really relate to them well, and that spread to relating to other people with similiar personalities to those two children — personalities I initially found difficult to like. Basically, my children have expanded my heart, and I am able to like people that I wasn’t able to like before. Many other mothers have told me the same.

    In the effort to be a good parent, you are forced you to do a lot of inner work you wouldn’t otherwise do. I think that child-rearing can make you a stronger, more compassionate, more open-minded person, if you let it. And I think that’s the real reward.

    Thanks for your blog; I think it does a real service.

  10. American Sabrah says:

    Are financial reasons legitimate enough to use birth control? I have been married for almost a year and but I still feel I need more time to adjust to married life before starting a family. Plus I don’t have the expenses to support a child at the moment. What do you think?

  11. So, what happens if a Jewish woman can’t have children? A painful reality for many women…and men. I watched this video with my daughter who had to have a hysterectomy this year in her 20s.
    We love your blog.

    • Hi Davis. I’m so sorry your daughter had to have a hysterectomy and is unable to have children. IVF is allowed within certain parameters of Jewish law (I’m not sure if she was able to save any eggs). But if the couple can’t have any children due to physical inabilities, they’re not obligated in the commandment.

  12. I think the ultimate question is who is the ultimate decision maker in taking the birth control, the couple, or the couple’s rabbi.

    I will argue that the decision should be made my the couple, not as sheep seeking a pope like authoritative figure in deciding the best outcome for the future of the family. in fact, this mentality takes away from the couples individuality and can create problems beyound the scope of this message.

    the couple should seek to learn the different torah aspects as well medical/phsycological/financial aspects of having a child and at what time, especially with different sources and rabbis, and finally make the decision.

    • Thanks for your comment, Frank. The truth is that in all matters of Jewish law, the ideal thing is to look at the source decide what to do yourself, based on them. HOWEVER. And this is a big HOWEVER. You have to be qualified to do that. Being a qualified posek takes years and years of learning and since most people do not have the qualifications to rule on Jewish law themselves, they appoint a rabbi that they trust and who they see eye to eye with to do it for them. I think Jewish law should take a couple’s needs into consideration and not land people with more children than they can handle. I’ve always gone to rabbis in discussing these matters and have found that the rabbis I’ve gone to have been sensitive to my (and my husband’s) emotional state. I’m sure there are rabbis who are less likely to give a couple more time if they feel like they need a longer break or need to stop having children, but there are also rabbis who weigh things out differently and people have the option to find a rabbi who sees the world as they do.

  13. I’m sorry, but I believe that I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with this attitude that just because you can, you should. In this day and age of overpopulation and all the serious issues it is responsible for, I don’t think that the argument that one has the patience, the resources, or the desire for an endless stream of children continues to be valid. I realize that it’s easy to point fingers to the third world, to similar approaches in other, substantially larger religious groups and to the welfare moms who have kid after kid for reasons that escape me, as the serious game changers, but to hide behind the idea that the Jews play such an insubstantial role in a serious world problem is simply a case of passing the buck. In this day and age, everybody must look beyond their own desires to the effects that their choices and lifestyles have on the world as a whole.

  14. Christine says:

    What are the allowances for adoption? Does Jewish law say much about it? Thanks!!

  15. Julie, you’re right. Overpopulation is a problem if you are raising children to be takers. But if you’re bringing children into this world so they can be givers, well, there is still plenty of giving and good for them to do. I wouldn’t worry about a surplus of munificence, benevolence, and altruism.

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