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Population Explosion

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Population Explosion


From: Yakov Spil

Dear Rabbi,
I should open by saying how much pleasure I have reading your answers which are full of wisdom and good sense. A friend asked me a beautiful question recently: When mashiach comes, will people still be giving birth, even though there will be techiat hamaytim (revival of the dead)? I answered that I didn't think that the mitzvah of "be fruitful and multiply" would become nullified. My friend said the world sure would be (over) populated!


Dear Yaakov Spil,
Will there still be childbirth when mashiach comes? Yes. On the contrary, the Talmud indicates that future birth-rates will multiply astronomically:

"Rabban Gamliel expounded: In the future, a woman will give birth every day, as the verse says: 'You will conceive and give birth together.'" (Yirmiyahu)

How will we feed all those people? Where will we put them?

The Talmud says that a newborn baby "brings his bread with him" into the world. That is, the miracle of a new life brings with it the blessing of more sustenance.

You know, in the sixties it was predicted that in a decade or two population growth would outstrip food production. What happened? G-d enlightened us to new technology and new farming methods, and, presto! food production kept up with population growth. G-d has no limit to the resources with which to provide for the world.

Your friend's concern reminds me of a story: During an astronomy lecture, a professor told his class that in 10 billion years the sun would burn itself out. A young woman jumped to her feet and cried, "What are we going to do about this!"

"Really," said the professor, "are you so concerned about what happens 10 billion years from now?"

"10 billion?" said the young woman, and she let out a sigh of relief. "I thought you said 10 million."

The comparison is not exact, for the mashiach can come any day; but the point is the same: We need to concern ourselves with the world as it is today and let G-d "worry" about providing for us in the miraculous future epoch.

Sources:
Tractate Shabbat 30b
Tractate Nida 31b


 
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