By Michael Gold
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Extra info for And Hannah Wept: Infertility, Adoption, and the Jewish Couple
11:30). God appeared before Abraham and promised to be his shield and protector. Abraham answered back with words that should be familiar to any childless couple. “... ‘O Lord God, what can you give me, seeing that I shall die childless, and the one in charge of my household is Dammesek Eliezer! . Since you have granted me no offspring, my steward will be my heir’ ” (Gen. 15:2–3). God answered back, “. . ‘That one shall not be your heir, none but your very own issue shall be your heir’ ” (Gen.
The Bible tells the story of Er and Onan: But Er, Judah’s first-born, was displeasing to the Lord, and the Lord took his life. ’ But Onan, knowing that the seed would not count as his, let it go to waste whenever he joined with his brother’s wife, so as not to provide offspring for his brother. What he did was displeasing to the Lord, and He took his life also. (Gen. 38:7–10) The rabbis asked, What was Er’s evil deed that God should slay him at a young age and without children? The Bible does not say, but rabbinic Midrash fills in the story.
The Talmud gives a reason that makes sense within the context of a talmudic society. Yet, admittedly, it sounds rather sexist today. To quote the Talmud: Where does this [law] come from? 5 The Jewish View of Infertility 21 This Library PDF version is for the use on an institutional computer only. com << Chapter >> Home | TOC | Index The Talmud sees man as taking an activist role on the earth and woman as being more passive. It is up to a man to seek out a wife, not up to a woman to seek a husband.