Does Genesis justify abortion?

March 10th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 2 comments

Question:

Kermit Gosnell (abortionist covictied of murder) justifies abortion using Genesis 2:7. (Adam became a living soul when God breathed the breath of life into his nostrils.) He claims that a baby does not become a living soul until it takes its first breath of air.
 
Please tell me that God’s language and Ancient Jewish Wisdom refute that notion.

∼ Darryl B.

Answer:

 Dear Darryl,

We are a bit tired and assume you are too of people who cherry pick through the Bible to support their own views. If you followed the view you mention, you would have to conclude that animals are not alive since God never breathed the breath of life into them. Somehow, I feel that Gosnell would not justify gratuitous and random killing of animals based on the idea that they are no more alive than carrots.

Ancient Jewish wisdom makes very clear that the “breath of life,” doesn’t refer to being alive but rather to God granting humans the ability to speak. Animals are alive and they communicate, but only humans formulate and express thoughts through language.

Learn from everyone, but not necessarily what they hope to teach you,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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2 comments

Warren Berstler says:

I have been a reader, listener and follower of you and Susan for many years and love your teachings, especially the Genesis series. But recently, I came across a magazine article that stated that the Rabbis in Israel do not constitute the beginning of life of a baby, until the child’s head is visible. Being a Bible believing Christian, who attends a local Messianic Congregation, I feel that life begins at conception. Fulling understanding that God created the Heavens, the earth, and the universe, along with Adam and Eve. There are many differing views on this subject, so I would appreciate if you would clear the air about this matter as to when does human or animal life really come into existence?

Susan Lapin says:

Warren, there is no such thing as “Rabbis in Israel.” There is no equivalent of the Pope who can speak for Jews. You really have to be very careful not to assume that whatever you are reading has validity. Suffice it to say, when life begins is a theological issue. On a practical level, abortion, with very few and stringently enforced exceptions, is not allowed under Jewish law. The majority of people who use the title Rabbi in today’s day and age, do not bind themselves by Jewish law -the title means nothing if you do not know under whose authority the person speaks.

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