Saturday, March 8, 2008

Philosophy and Religion

So I don't know why I thought of this one today, but I'm curious to discover the answer...

We are told to "be fruitful and multiply". Simply stated, "have kids, at least one for each of you".

In Jewish tradition, especially since the Holocaust, it's also "suggested" that you have "at least one of each" - i.e. at least one boy and one girl, to repopulate the world.

Well - what if you have that one boy and one girl, but you know that for medical reasons, one of them will not be able to have children? Are you obligated to have another?

This isn't worded very well, and there are all sorts of loopholes. A very Orthodox person would say you should have many many children, so the numbers eventually won't matter - it says "multiply". I suspect (but I need to investigate) that the Conservative movement doesn't feel quite as strongly about it, but does that mean the whole question would get pooh-poohed away?

Of course I ask this, because I somehow realized today that my daughter will most likely never have children of her own, at least not physically her own. Trisomy 21 means she has an extra chromosome, so it is garunteed that any child she gave birth to would also have T21. And all the issues that go with it.

I have to go do some research, both on the religious part and on the practical application - is it possible for a woman with DS to raise a child successfully, without an enormous amount of hands-on support? [Which I am sure Sofia will have, but all the same, is it possible?]

I'll keep you posted...


I did some preliminary research.

No man may abstain from keeping the law "be fruitful and multiply" unless he already has children; according to the School of Shammai, two sons; according to the School of Hillel, a son and a daughter since it is written (Bereishit Ch.5 v.2) "male and female He created them." Mishnah Yebamot 6:6

The first thing G-d tells the humans to do is "be fruitful and multiply". As you can see from the above paragraph, the rabbis of old decided that this only applies to the man (more on that in a minute) but that it does specifically mean one son and one daughter (we follow the School of Hillel, but in the Mishna, the opposing view from the School of Shammai is always listed as part of the discussion).

Another quote:
idea was put forward by a number of thinkers over the years, to the effect that one of the best responses that Jews can have to the Holocaust is to have many children, thus denying Hitler and Nazism a demographic victory over the Jews.

Ok, so that says basically have more than just one and one. Keep going, repopulate.

Sigh. I can't find it yet. I just joined a Jewish Special Needs forum... I'll do some more investigating there...


Mommy to those Special Ks said...

I just wanted to say that if Sofia WERE to have a child, that child would have no more than a 50% chance of having Ds. There is a thread on Downsyn right now talking about a woman with Ds who is either pregnant or just had a child. I haven't read it yet, but it might give you some answers about that at least!