... I am astonished that you begin your letter by stating that your last spark of hope [of having children] has been extinguished. How can a human being possibly know such things?
It would seem that the entire basis [for this statement] is your age. But this is not proof at all, for, as related by our Sages, of blessed memory, and we also see this to be so, women older than yourself have had sons and daughters.
Additionally, one who looks at G-d's world sees that since — to quote the verse — "Your works are so manifold" and "Your works are so great," it is impossible for one human being to grasp and comprehend all things. In fact, a person is incapable of apprehending even a very significant portion or even the majority of matters that concern the individual himself.
[Because it is impossible to know everything,] people seek to master and achieve dissimilar and distinct mastery in different fields of human endeavor and knowledge, [each one becoming an expert in his limited field]. No honest individual would offer a categorical opinion except in his area of expertise, and he would rely on experts in other fields for opinions in those areas that are not his area of expertise.
Regarding the matter at hand: The Torah does indeed give consideration to the opinion of doctors, and various rulings in Jewish law are dependent on their opinions. [Moreover,] the Torah instructs us to follow the instructions of doctors in terms of actual deed.
Nevertheless, we must clearly know in our hearts that G-d is the ultimate Healer of all flesh; it is He who conducts the world as a whole and the private worlds of each and every one of us down to its smallest details — and most assuredly regarding the crucial matters [in our lives].
It would seem from your letter that the stated opinion [about your inability to have children] did not emanate from a medical specialist [in this field]. However, even if this were so, the number of errors doctors make in such situations, [when they proclaim the impossibility of having children,] is too numerous to count.
It depends entirely on man's steadfast bitachon in G-d and on binding himself with the Creator of the universe.
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 21)
In reply to your letter of the 22nd of Iyar in which you again write that you and your wife have yet to be blessed with children:
Since many new techniques and methods of treatment have been discovered in the last few years, it would be beneficial that you once again turn to a reproductive specialist and inquire of him in particular about the latest methods of treatment. ...
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVII, p. 135)
In general, there is no reason for fear; surely G-d will provide His blessing to you for viable and healthy children. As to what you should do via natural means:
It is my opinion that you should visit the fertility expert Professor Sondek. Tell him all that you have tried until now and follow his advice. May G-d grant that the doctor succeed in being His emissary in providing you with the proper advice and instructions so that you will soon be able to convey to me glad tidings that G-d has fulfilled your request for the good.
It would also be appropriate for you to ascertain whether your shidduch with your wife wounded the pride of any Jewish young man or woman. If it did, then you should ask for his or her forgiveness.
Also check that the mezuzos in your home are all kosher according to Jewish law. Additionally, your wife tichye should give several coins to tzedakah prior to lighting candles every erev Shabbos and every erev Yom Tov.
You should scrupulously observe the three well-known daily lessons that apply to all, those of Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya, as established by my father-in-law, the Rebbe. Understandably, all the above is to be bli neder.
May you be blessed with healthy and viable children. I await glad tidings.
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 266)
In reply to your letter of the 12th of Tammuz in which you write that you have already been married for several years and you have yet to be blessed with children:
I am surprised that you did not write whether you consulted with specialists, as a person is to do whatever he or she can do using natural means. In any event, [if you have not yet done so,] do so now.
Additionally — and this of greatest import:
The impediment to G-d's blessing for healthy and viable children is often the result of a lack of meticulous observance of the laws and regulations of taharas hamishpachah, family purity, (niddah, hefsek taharah, immersion in a kosher mikveh, etc.), stemming from a lack of thorough knowledge of all the details of these laws.
Inquire therefore of a practicing Rav about all the detailed laws — with the clear understanding that you are to fully observe them from this point on.
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIV, p. 168)
The Rebbe's secretary, Rabbi Leibel Groner, wrote to us that although for many years the Rebbe's attitude towards artificial insemination was negative,
"however, some time before the 27th of Adar, 5752, a couple turned to the Rebbe with the following:
"The insemination would be done in Jerusalem under the supervision of several G-d-fearing rabbis. The main issue of the supervision was to ensure that they would not mix anything in any way questionable into the husband's semen. They received the Rebbe's agreement and holy blessing.
"When the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, visited the Rebbe in Cheshvan of 5752, to the best of my recollection the Rebbe's response about a supervising organization in this matter was that if Rabbi Eliyahu would personally take responsibility, he could be relied upon."
(Mind Over Matter, p. 343)
... You write about the woman whose doctor states that the "counting of pure days" [before she can go to the mikveh
] interferes with the limited number of days in which she can conceive. You ask for my advice in this matter; however, you do not adequately describe the intent of your question:
To offer a leniency that is in opposition to Jewish law, G-d forbid, is clearly out of the question, particularly since recently many medical experts in this field reject the validity of the tests upon which doctors base their opinions regarding the most suitable days for the woman to conceive. It is entirely unclear who is in the majority — those who doubt the validity of these tests, or those who maintain its validity.
Moreover, all these types of tests [to determine the woman's most fertile days] have only recently been developed, from which we may imply that even those who believe in the validity of these tests cannot be absolutely sure of their authenticity, [since there has not yet been adequate time to collect and correlate valid statistical data].
Clearly, there is yet another manner [of alleviating the situation of the woman about whom you write]: that her doctor give her medications or injections that shorten the duration of her menses, thereby having it conclude earlier and thus allowing sufficient time for the "counting of her pure days," [going to mikveh, and conceiving].
On the other hand, this method is also dubious, since the ultimate effects of this method are not yet entirely clear; it is therefore highly doubtful — doubts that border on negating this method — whether the resultant effect of this manner of treatment is the same on each individual treated in this manner.
Consequently, it is impossible to know what effect this would have on the fetus, for even any small [negative] change in the mother can have many [troublesome] consequences for the fetus.
Therefore, should the doctor decide to use the latter form of treatment, it would be highly beneficial that he not give her potent injections, rather to try to change her cycle and that which is dependent on the cycle little by little.
Most important is that she observe the laws and regulations of family purity in their entirety including all those matters that are associated with it, in particular as it relates to a woman, i.e., matters of tznius, which include properly covering her hair.
This will enable her to be a fit vessel for G-d's blessings, for as the holy Zohar states (III, p. 126a): "A woman is to cover [her hair]. If she does so she is rewarded with the fulfillment of the verse: '[Your wife will be like a fruitful vine...] your children will be like olive shoots,' and she is blessed with ... children and grandchildren." ...
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIV, p. 470)
... You write about your wife — that doctors say the reason for her inability to conceive is a result of her keeping the laws and regulations of family purity, which I take to mean that her most fertile time is prior to the conclusion of her count [of the impure days,] the hefsek taharah, etc., [i.e., the "counting of pure days"]:
There are very many doctors who completely deny these conjectures and even deny the very foundations upon which these assumptions are made, for it is only a relatively short time that [some] doctors have been relying on their validity.
Moreover, in the great majority of instances, [even these doctors state that] the difference is merely a matter of a day or two. [This being so,] there are a number of treatments that [are able to] shorten the time of her menses, thereby rectifying the situation — even according to their opinion — at least for a period of time.
Although one should be cautious about using methods that interfere with the natural cycle, when this is only done a few times, there is nothing to worry about if a specialist in this field does it.
In any event, I surely need not make you aware that there is no room to offer a leniency even when it is ["merely"] in opposition to Rabbinic law [and not Scriptural law] in the above situation where the doctors requested it.
I am surprised that you do not mention whether you asked the doctor about yourself, [i.e., if the inability to conceive is not due to your wife but possibly because of a problem that you might have]. Surely you will broach this matter at the next possible opportunity.
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 388)
However I must bring to your attention that quite often — though there are those who term this an incompatibility in the blood — this has no effect on the children who are born.
... In your case, since you write that your wife has been having health problems, etc., this may be the reason for the complications you write about and not because of the incompatibilities of the blood. Thus, when your wife's health improves, there is room to say that all the fears [about the pregnancy] will disappear as well.
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 458)
I received your letter and pidyon nefesh
(petitionary prayer) and — as per your request — I read it at the tziyun
(the sacred resting place) of my father-in-law, the Rebbe, of blessed memory, for the fulfillment of your request for healthy and viable children.
... It interests me to know what the doctors advise in this matter. In my opinion, both you and your wife should inquire of your doctors and follow their instructions.
I would also suggest that you enhance your performance of the mitzvah of hachnosas orchim, hospitality to guests.
This is in keeping with the response of the Maggid of Mezritch to the Alter Rebbe, the Baal HaTanya vehaShulchan Aruch, when he asked to be blessed with a male child. The Maggid of Mezritch replied that one merits a son ("Bameh yizakeh naar") through the mitzvah of hachnosas orchim, hospitality to guests ("es orchoi").
May it be G-d's will that through the study and performance of Torah and mitzvos in general, and particularly through your efforts in the mitzvah of hachnosas orchim, as well as by using natural means — by listening to the instructions of a fertility specialist — you will merit a healthy and viable male child. ...
(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 23)
... Discuss your [health] situation with a Rav
who issues Rabbinical decisions on a regular basis and [relate] what the doctors have told you:
If he rules that according to Jewish law you are permitted to become pregnant, you should then make an effort to do so. May G-d grant you success.
(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXII, p. 230 )
- (Back to text) The following two paragraphs, as well as the next footnote, is from the book Mind Over Matter.
- (Back to text) For instance, on the 27th of Adar, 5751, the Rebbe responded: "Is this permitted according to the Torah?"
- (Back to text) Tehillim 128:3.
- (Back to text) The individual writing to the Rebbe stated the following: "When our eldest son sheyichye was born, we found out that there was an incompatibility between my wife's blood and my own — known as the Rh factor — since her blood is Rh Negative. This incompatibility factor can sometimes, Heaven forfend, cause serious damage to the children who are born."
- (Back to text) From a letter of the Rebbe, dated 26 Nissan, 5746.