By Michael Gold
Booklet by way of Gold, Michael
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Additional info for And Hannah Wept: Infertility Adoption and the Jewish Couple
If only he prayed harder, or said the right words, she would be cured. There is no magic, and no automatic formula, for curing infertility. Some things are in the hands of God. A relevant explanation for modern Jews of Jacob’s anger is found in the commentary by Isaac Amara, Akedat Yitzhak. Amara speaks of the various names given to woman when she was created, and the various roles given to her. This explanation is sufficiently important that it is worth quoting at length: The two names “woman” [ishah] and “Eve” indicate two purposes.
Most Jewish families are prepared to have fewer children and to ensure that each of those children can be provided for properly. The cost of raising a child is overwhelming today. College education alone, which is almost a necessity for most Jewish families, demands huge sacrifices for even a two-child family. The large Jewish families of the past are unthinkable for most Jewish couples today. And yet the importance of procreation as a command ment is still heard among rabbis of all movements.
The Bible does not say, but rabbinic Midrash fills in the story. Er also spilled his seed upon the ground. He did not want to ruin Tamar’s beauty by making her pregnant. Once again, we see the seriousness of a man not fulfilling his obligation to have children. This is the first time the Bible mentions the institu tion of levirate marriage, in which the brother of the de ceased man has an obligation to marry the widow and have children. The children are called by the name of the first husband.