Infertility

I’d like to begin by thanking you both for your wonderful teachings, which have been critical to my understanding and progress toward my 5Fs. Although all 5Fs are important, I recognize the significance of family and the critical role it plays not only in our individual lives but also in society.

However, I was curious what the Bible says about those of us who have been unable to have children due to infertility. Is there any guidance for us if we can’t start our own natural families? Even though I understand that creating life is beyond my control (specifically, I mean that I can do everything that’s humanly possible, but I know that only God can grant us the wonderful blessings of motherhood/fatherhood) it feels as if a vital part of who I am is missing.

Although I cannot speak for everyone who might be having a similar experience, I believe this is a subject to which many of us can connect. As you may imagine, this is a difficult circumstance, but it has allowed me to strengthen my relationship with God by allowing me to get to know Him and his instructions better for every aspect of my life. And for that, I am immensely grateful. Thank you once more for enriching our lives by teaching us timeless truths that will never change.

Digna A.

Dear Digna,

You so eloquently expressed both your pain and how you are dealing with a difficult challenge. Indeed, in our crazy, mixed-up world, where having and responsibly raising children is frequently devalued, you are one of many who wish for nothing more than a child of your own. The yearning for children is one of the most frequent recurring themes in the Bible. We watch Abraham and Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Hannah cry bitter tears and while they are each eventually blessed with children, as you say, not everyone is.

We think you may have answered your question in your letter. You wrote, “(…I can do everything that’s humanly possible, but I know that only God can grant us the wonderful blessings of motherhood/fatherhood) it feels as if a vital part of who I am is missing.”

We are not privy to the reasoning behind God’s choices. Our job is to do the best we can with the circumstances we are in. By definition, if God has not granted you a viable pregnancy, that is not (at the moment at least) part of who you are. If you needed biological children to fulfill your role, you would be given them.

Drawing closer to God through your unhappiness is a major achievement. But the Bible does give us more guidance as well. As we show in our Scrolling through Scripture series, the language and structure from the beginning of Genesis reveal that we simultaneously live in two worlds, a spiritual one and a physical one. If God does not bless you with biological offspring, that is all the more reason to emphasize the spiritual offspring available to you.

While adoption or becoming a foster parent is one possibility, that is not the only route to ensuring that you live on in the next generation. Some of the greatest Jewish leaders of the 20th century were not granted biological children. We were privileged to know Rabbi Simcha and Mrs. Feiga Wasserman for many years. Although they had no direct children of their own and did not adopt, there are hundreds of children named after them and thousands who, knowingly or not, owe their connection to God and His word to the students the Wassermans taught, the schools they founded, and the fruits of their labor.

Ancient Jewish wisdom credits Moses as a father to Aharon’s children because he taught them so much. Anyone who gives a younger person tools for living, whether that is understanding how the world really works, or whether it is tangible help in being able to make a living, becomes viewed as a parent to that younger person.

Perhaps your inclinations don’t lead to teaching. Many a neighbor has been a lifeline for a youth from a troubled family and there are individuals who have provided support, both financial and other, to a specific child enabling them to work hard and achieve. The essence of parenting is giving—giving more than one ever thought one could in every which way. There are so many ways to give life. Being a kidney donor is a way of giving life as is being a listening ear. Where best can you make a commitment to give?

Digna, there is pain that never disappears, but it can be redirected to be a force for good.

Wishing you blessing,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin


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