By Michael Gold
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Extra resources for And Hannah Wept: Infertility, Adoption, and the Jewish Couple
Rachel’s emotional statement can be understood by anybody who has faced infertility. What is surprising is Jacob’s unsympathetic response. Rather than loving his wife and trying to empathize, he answered cru elly. The Torah says, “Jacob was incensed at Rachel, and said, ‘Can I take the place of God, who has denied you the 36 And Hannah Wept This Library PDF version is for the use on an institutional computer only. ’ ” (Gen. 30:2). How different is Jacob’s reaction from Hannah’s husband, Elkanah.
In the Bible, infertility is due to God; in these talmudic stories, there is a direct physi ological cause. The understanding of physiology is primi tive, but the idea is a vital one. Seeking a medical cure is thus a legitimate Jewish path. A more relevant story for modern couples about in fertility involves the son of Rabbi Yehudah Ha-Nasi, the redactor of the Mishnah. It is found in a discussion on the laws of onah, the right of a Jewish wife to regular sexual relations with her husband. The issue is a husband who goes away to study for a long time.
Com << Chapter >> Home | TOC | Index because “it is not good that man should be alone . . ” . . Companionship, and the love and goodwill necessary for that relationship, is presented as the first and primary purpose of marriage. 20 Because companionship is one basic purpose of Jew ish marriage, Judaism has always recommended marriage as the ideal, even for Jews who cannot have children. Even if one aspect of marriage (procreation) could not be ful filled, the other aspect (companionship) still could be.