Religion & Beliefs

Make babies for God!

If you haven't read this story at Haaretz, which is sad (and bewildering) on so many levels, you should check it out! (Of course, the death of any human being is upsetting, but this has other kinds of sadness to … Read More

By / November 20, 2006

If you haven't read this story at Haaretz, which is sad (and bewildering) on so many levels, you should check it out! (Of course, the death of any human being is upsetting, but this has other kinds of sadness to it too)

Eighteen kids???

As a woman, and also as a new mom, I'm trying to get my head around this lifestyle. I understand the "every baby that arrived was a blow to Hitler" aspect, and I've heard it before. But this quote…

"These women give birth out of righteousness. Such a woman is considered saintly in society, and they feel that they devote their souls to follow the mitzvah. The society speaks of them in adoration. They receive respect,"

…breaks my heart a little. Because it implies that the children are the cause for such respect, which should of course be given to every woman simply for being a woman.

The story goes on to say…

…the basis to the mitzvah of many births is not as is commonly believed the commandment to be "fruitful and multiply," for according to halakha it is sufficient to have a boy and a girl to achieve it. Rather, this stems from a phrase in the Gemara that has been interperted by the Haredim to say the Messiah will not come until all souls have passed through a body.

Now, I don't know how I feel about the messiah (another topic for another day) but this strikes me as insane. Just fucking nuts.

Of course, any woman should be able to have as many babies as she wants, but this phenomenon seems so clearly rooted in a kind of psychological oppression of women by the ultra-orthodox culture. What about a woman who cannot conceive? Is she a useless hunk of flesh, incapable of helping bring the messiah?

Can anyone help me understand this? I know I'm simplifying it… but as a mom, currently nursing, who was just told to STOP nursing her child because I've been unable to kick my 4-week-long bronchitis (and have lost 12 lbs in 3 weeks), and "need my own nutrients"… I'm just so sad to think that these women have NO inner resources for themselves.

And why? Why are the super-religious always so backwards? What is it about strict observance of faith that makes us unable to think as individuals? Why are individuality and devotion so problematic to each other?

(Just in case you don't have enough to think about today)