God, Rabbis & Abortion: A Ten Commandments’ Tale

interpretation of the hebrew bible’s commandments are a source of controversy. there is a talmudic story which essentially addresses the issue god and rabbinical interpretation. the rabbis arguing over a legal point. in the debate, god comes down to give the answer. he is told by the rabbis that his view is not necessary as the torah was on earth left for man to interpret.

beyond the commandments, the hebrew bible had documented conversations of humans with god or his intermediaries. while these conversations do not dictate law, they too are worthy of interpretation.

some non-orthodox rabbis, with the abortion rights case pending before the supreme court, have made statements. a male rabbi indicated that he used to assist women in getting abortions. forward.com a female rabbi declared her abortion to be a blessing. jta.org

how do these opinions align with god’s interactions with women?

women, in the hebrew bible, have a special relationship with the creator beyond that of men. some of these important conversations touch on conception, the future or prophesy of a child, and a child’s welfare. these conversations evidence a woman’s role as god’s partner in creation.

two passages are of interest. rebecca is called upon by god during her difficult pregnancy. this conversation did not include her husband. “and the lord said to her, “two nations are in your womb, and two kingdoms will separate from your innards, and one kingdom will become mightier than the other kingdom, and the elder will serve the younger. genesis 25:23.

samson’s mother was met by a messenger from god. she received directions as to how the child was to be raised as well as his destiny. “and an angel of the lord appeared to the woman, and said to her, “behold now, you are barren, and have not borne; and you shall conceive and bear a son. consequently, beware now, and do not drink wine or strong drink, and do not eat any unclean thing. because you shall conceive, and bear a son; and a razor shall not come upon his head, for a nazirite to god shall the lad be from the womb; and he will begin to save israel from the hand of the philistines.” judges 13:3

to this date, in my review of the bible, i am unaware any woman’s encounter with god for which the an abortion was determined to be a blessing. i am unaware of god directing a woman to have an abortion.

in sum, questions arise as to whether statements, declarations, and opinions on abortion by rabbi’s asserting their positions consistent with judaism as a whole. perhaps, for clarity’s sake, their assertions should be prefaced by their particular denomination of judaism. further, this discussion is not a discussion of law but rather a discussion of intent. there is no doubt, however, that the creator of the universe has a particular relationship and partnership with women seeking to conceive and the livelihoods of their children.

be well!!

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Published by biblelifestudies

I am a practicing lawyer and long term admirer of the bible

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