The opening portion of the Torah reading of this week deals with childbearing. Jewish tradition has to a great extent always been child centered. Bringing children into the world is one of the basic positive commandments of Judaism. Having children demonstrates a belief in the future and an optimistic view of life generally.
Everyone knows that raising children constitutes a great responsibility and enormous sacrifice on the part of parents. Nevertheless, the thrust in Judaism is always to create a family and be privileged to see generations. Seeing grandchildren and certainly great-grandchildren allows one to live, in an imaginative way, even beyond the grave. Judaism is a generational religion. It is not a religion that is self-centered but points to a higher purpose, a nobler life and through generations, it acquires a whiff of eternity.
The rabbis of the Talmud taught us long ago that one should not be deterred from creating a family lest the descendants of that family be people of disappointing behavior and immoral values. Having children and building a family is always risky business. There are no guarantees given even to the most righteous and pious of parents. The biblical narratives of the great men and women of Israel testify to the difficulties of rearing proper generations. Nevertheless, the Torah does not allow us to desist from bringing children into the world and raising families. Creation is a divine attribute and procreation is the basic act of human purpose.
As part of the disastrous course that sections of Western civilization have taken in our time, we are witness to the complete denigration of having children and even of the very lives of infants. Children are a burden to one’s career advancement, to the checkbook and to the leisure and freedom desired by many. In other sections of society, children are viewed only as to what they can contribute to the general society itself. If they are deemed to be unable to make such a contribution, then they are certainly worthless. We are witness to a return to the values of ancient Sparta where infants and small children who were weak or still physically underdeveloped, were simply taken out into the forests and allowed to die without sustenance or protection.
The abortion clinics are a major industry in Western society and their reach now touches even infants in the process of being born or even those having been born. If the mother somehow does not want the child, then it has become perfectly acceptable that that child should be done away with since it is a burden to all concerned.
This type of legalized murder is only a step away from genocide and murder that can be justified so to speak, by ideals, policies and economic theories. The Western world finds itself on a very slippery slope. God forbid, that it slips completely over the precipice.
Rabbi Berel Wein