The Torah speaks of the enslavement and bitter bondage of the Israelites in
Egypt. In spite of the back-breaking oppression, the hardship and humiliation,
the Jewish people would be forged in the fiery furnace of exile.
Jewish women, in particular, are given much of the credit for our eventual
deliverance. In the merit of the righteous women of that generation was Israel
redeemed from Egypt (Talmud, Sotah 11b). The most important contribution of the
women then was that they were prepared to bring children into the world despite
the most impossible living conditions. Furthermore, it was they who encouraged
the men to raise families during their slavery. The Talmud recounts how the
women would soothe their husbands in the fields, charming and easing them into
intimacy. Through their dedication was a generation born.
And today? There is no bondage and little suffering in our lives. Our biggest
hardship is paying the mortgage, tuition fees, and fixing the transmission in
the second car. Even those among us who struggle financially live far more
comfortably than any of our forebears. But we have been so conditioned--make
that brainwashed--by a societal value system and media manipulation, that
anybody with more than three children is positively primitive and, oh so
Everyone knows that the very first commandment in the Bible is Be fruitful
and multiply and all of us are called upon to build and populate the world. But
the argument goes that this only applied in the beginning of time when there was
Adam and Eve and a handful of others, but today we suffer from overpopulation,
hunger and poverty. Well, everyone also knows that overpopulation is not a
problem in affluent countries and communities. And we also know that hunger
could be alleviated if there was an equitable global food distribution program.
Having another kid in California isn't really going to cause starvation in
Certainly from a Jewish perspective, we Jews are grossly under populated. We
have still not replaced the one third of our nation wiped out in the Holocaust.
By now, we should have been far more numerous. Sure, our numbers are depleting
because of assimilation but also because we are having smaller families. Jews
seem to take the two per family rule more seriously than most. If anything, we
can claim a dispensation from Zero Population Growth on the grounds that we are
still making up our losses. Besides, chances are we won't be turning to the
United Nations or the World Bank for their assistance. If necessary, we will
Then there is Israel. Let's face it: a factor which exacerbates our
difficulties in the Middle East is that Palestinians have more children than
Israelis. If every Israeli family had one more child we wouldn't be so dependent
on massive Aliyah numbers from around the world.
Isn't it expensive to have a big family? Without doubt, more mouths to feed,
clothe and educate means a bigger family budget. But it is also a question of
priorities, allocations and making choices. A family vehicle instead of a luxury
car is only one example of how larger families manage. At the end of the day, we
trust in G-d and really do believe that with every new child comes a new
blessing of sustenance from Hashem to help us raise that child.
Over the years, on many occasions I have heard women past menopause say they
wish they had had more children. How many famous actresses have been busy with
their careers and when they were finally ready to start a family, it wasn't
easy. Their own biological clocks ticked away while they were playing other
people's lives on screen.
My wife and I have, thank G-d, been blessed with a large family. Over the
years, we have been on the receiving end of many jokes and snide remarks. With
incredulous, wide eyes people asked my wife, how many children do you have?! Her
stock answer? One of each. I can well appreciate the Rabbi who got tired of all
the dirty looks at his kids. Wise guys would challenge him with questions like
when are you going to stop! His reply? When I hit Six Million! End of
So if you're feeling broody, go for it. If you want to bring yourself many
beautiful blessings (not to mention grandchildren) for many years to come, have
another child. Don't be intimidated by convention, cynics, or even your mother
in law! Plan a larger family. It'll make you larger than life and give you much
satisfaction and nachas-for life.
Our grandmothers in Egypt were heroines. Their faith built a nation. May we
do our share and, please G-d, we, too, will be redeemed.