Israel Forever

For the week ending 5 April 2003 / 3 Nisan 5763

The Demographic War of Survival

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Israel is fighting a war not only against Arab terror, but against Arab demography as well. The widening gap between the birth rates of the Jewish and Arab populations in Israel raises some deep concerns about the future of this country as a Jewish state.

Two of the factors which conspire to keep the Jewish birthrate down are the secularist hostility to large families and the widespread practice of abortion. This is why, outside of religious circles, the average Israeli family reportedly has "one and a half children and a dog". Add to this the determination of the new government to keep on cutting down child allowance payments and you get a grim picture of official policy towards having more children.

In this weeks Torah portion a woman who gives birth is obligated to bring a sin offering along with a burnt one as sacrifices in the Beit Hamikdash. What sin did she commit to require such atonement? The answer given by our Talmudic Sages is that in the throes of her labor pains the woman giving birth is invariably tempted to vow that she will abstain from marital relations so that she never need to endure such suffering again. Once the experience is behind her she of course relents and goes on having children. But atonement is required for even entertaining the thought of abandoning her G-d-given potential to bring life to the world.

This is a thought which must change the attitude of many Israelis, from government officials to women with child-bearing potential, if Israel is to remain a Jewish state forever.

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