Celebration & Renewal: Rites of Passage in Judaism

By Rela M. Geffen | Go to book overview

DAVID NOVAK


"Be Fruitful and Multiply"
Issues Relating to Birth in Judaism

Parenting as a Partnership with God

The unique partnership with God that human procreation involves is perhaps best expressed in a passage in the Talmud which declares that there are three partners in the creation of a human being: God, father, and mother ( Kiddushin 30b). This view has many implications.

There is no question that Jewish tradition, starting with the Bible, has been pronatalist. The very first words that God uttered to the new human creatures in the Garden of Eden were "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" ( Genesis 1:28). The conception and bearing of children is considered to be the type of commandment that makes humans the partners of God in the process of creation itself. Thus, in a famous passage in the Talmud, one rabbi states that when someone refuses to procreate, it is "as if" that person had shed human blood; in other words, that person has diminished human population by the sin of omission. Another rabbi stated, in this same passage, that it is "as if" that person had diminished the divine image, by not enabling humans, who are in the image of God, to be born ( Yevamot 63b).

First, parents are not the absolute creators of their children: they are only their cocreators--God's junior partners, as it were. "Indeed, all lives are Mine: be it the

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Celebration & Renewal: Rites of Passage in Judaism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 3
  • Be Fruitful and Multiply - Issues Relating to Birth in Judaism 12
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 31
  • Parents as Partners with God - Parenting Young Children 32
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 52
  • From Bar/Bat Mitzvah Through the Teen Years - Challenges to Parent and Community 53
  • Notes 70
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 70
  • Choosing Judaism - Issues Relating to Conversion 71
  • Notes 88
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 88
  • Marriage - Judaism's "Other" Covenantal Relationship 90
  • Notes 122
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 130
  • Midlife - From Understanding to Wisdom 132
  • Notes 147
  • The Altar Weeps" - Divorce in Jewish Law 151
  • Introduction 151
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 166
  • Bikkur Ḥolim - Sickness in Jewish Law 167
  • Notes 196
  • The Crown of Glory - Aging in the Jewish Tradition 202
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 223
  • Death and Mourning - A Time for Weeping, A Time for Healing 226
  • Conclusion 249
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 249
  • Glossary 252
  • Contributors 258
  • Index 261
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