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Am I Cursed Because I Don't have Children?

Am I Cursed Because I Don't have Children?

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Question:

I do not have children. It is too late, as I am going into my 60's. I am brokenhearted because of this, I would have loved more than anything to pass on a Jewish/Torah legacy to children and grandchildren. I have been told that because I am barren that I am somehow cursed by G‑d. Am I cursed? I have also stayed away from many family functions throughout the years because women with children have politely kept their distance from me. As I near the end of my life it becomes overwhelming at times to know that is the end of the line for me.

I know I may be grasping on thin air, but is there any hope or possibility that I might bear children in the messianic age?

Answer:

No, of course you are not cursed for not having children! Many of the greatest and most righteous personalities were in your situation. Your life has meaning and purpose despite not having given birth to physical children.

Your exact situation is addressed by the prophet Isaiah:1

"Let not the barren one say, 'Behold, I am a dry tree.' For so says the L-rd to the barren ones who will keep My Sabbaths and will choose what I desire and hold fast to My covenant: 'I will give them in My house and in My walls a place and a name, better than sons and daughters; an everlasting name I will give them, which will not be discontinued.'"

Yes it is true that producing offspring is perhaps the greatest mitzvah, however, there are different ways of "having" children. For those who are capable of having children in the simplest sense, that is their obligation and privilege. For those, however, who circumstances prevented from bearing physical children, there are other ways to have "children"; other ways to leave a lasting legacy and imprint on this world.

Good deeds: In the Book of Genesis, we read,

"These are the children of Noah: Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generations; Noah walked with G‑d."2

After promising an "introduction" to Noah's children, the verse interrupts to discuss his accomplishments, good deeds, and saintliness. Noah's three sons are only named in the following verse. From this the Midrash3 infers:

"This teaches you that the main progeny of the righteous are their good deeds."

You can have many children. Every mitzvah (Torah commandment; good deed) you perform has a lasting and eternal affect on the world. In the daily morning prayers, we praise G‑d for "planting righteousness." Righteous deeds are akin to planting trees. The tree will bear fruit for many, many years; and the seeds of its fruit will be used to plant more trees, ad infinitum.

Disciples: Again we read:

"These are the descendants of Moses and Aaron on the day that the L-rd spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai. These are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab the firstborn, Abihu, Elazar, and Ithamar."4

On this the Talmud5 notes:

"Yet only the sons of Aaron are mentioned. However, they are considered descendants of Moses because he taught them Torah. This teaches us that whoever teaches Torah to the son of his fellow man, Scripture regards it as if he had begotten him."

Students are also considered offspring, as is anyone whom you teach or have an effect on.

And because of every person's ability to beget children — whether spiritual or physical — Jacob severely rebuked our Matriarch Rachel when she cried to him that her life is worthless, and she might as well die, because she had no children.6 There is no such thing as a useless life, with our without physical children!

As far as other women keeping their distance, they may have done so out of misplaced consideration for you, thinking that you would feel uncomfortable around so many children. Assure them that you do not, and perhaps you can become a grandmother figure to some of these children—I'm sure everyone would win from that!

As far as having children in Messianic times, it is possible. Miracles will happen, so why limit them? Anything is possible.

But until then, please realize how meaningful your life is, and how meaningful it can be—by giving birth to many "children" and many good deeds!

Footnotes
1.

56:3-5.

3.

Tanchuma Noah 2 (cited in Rashi's commentary on the verse).

5.

Sanhedrin 19b; also cited in Rashi on the verse.

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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Florence Sebag September 8, 2017

We had an uncle who never got married, never had children. "Tonton Salomon" was a second father to all six of us. He was always present in and involved in our lives. If my father could not make a parent teacher meeting, my uncle was there. We loved him unconditionally like we loved our parents. Even though he has left us many years ago, his legacy of love lives on. There is not a week that I don't mention "tonton Salomon" . May he rest in peace. Reply

Anonymous September 7, 2017

Thank you very much for your beautiful answer to this question. I am in the same position, and your answer has lightened my heart. Reply

arthur yanoff September 7, 2017

not having children Our Rebbe and The Rebbitzin did not have children. We must be very careful to lump all yiddin together when it comes to condemning one's fellow Jews. Most Jews do not condemn or judge harshly Jewish couples who have no children. It is misguided to assume that whatever displeases us is a curse from Hashem. Instead of condemning our fellow Jews, we should begin to show tolerance and rachmunis. We are both the people Israel and unique as Jewish individuals. Reply

Tanya September 7, 2017

May HaShem give you children, whichever the way He may do it. May we know about your joy really soon. Reply

Malgosia August 13, 2015

thank you so much Reply

Anonymous CC May 13, 2013

Hashem is with us if we want him to be! Yes,Gd had me assigned to another Job instead of having children! It still hurts inside because it seems like am all alone and am missing out on children calling mom and grandchildren to look forward to seeing you! I did it all took care of abused children , mental and physically challenged adults and children, seniors with Alzheimer's. Just turned 50 am alone try to forgive the man who told me would children after 5 years of marriage that never told me he was fixed until after I was forced to leave him for abusing me leading me to live a life of lies for 18 years making me believe it was me who could not conceive! That same man destroyed my life and yet I understand I helped so many! During this ordeal I lost touch of my own identity then thought it was selfish of me to want a family! I know I brought families back together and Gd worked good through me so I feel honored to be his helped of good deeds! I still cry want no praise am no better than thou! Gd cares if you let him! Reply

Mrs. Devorah Tsiona August 7, 2011

Wonderful Wonderful answer! Reply

Anonymous Las Vegas, NV January 4, 2011

How aptly put What a beautiful way of looking at this subject. Thank you so much. Your words touched my soul. Reply

Nahomi SD, CA September 27, 2010

about not having children I am criying just reading this, Is my heart so sad because I cannot have a baby yet. The doctors say is a challenge I pray to G-D to give me a child that i can teach Torah. I cannot imagine my life time in this earth where i cannot hear the Torah from my great grand children. Reply

Zvi Cohen Jersey City, NJ December 15, 2008

"raising" versus "having" children While not every person can physically "have" children, "having" children and "raising" children are not necessarily connected.

Examples of "having" children but not "raising" children include:
- women who give birth then give a baby up for adoption
- men who donate sperm

Examples of raising children but not "having" children (physically):
- adopting a child
- "spiritual lineage" just as is mentioned in this article

Virtually every person can choose one of these paths. If you are unable to physically have a child why not adopt ? Reply

Anonymous Holon, Israel December 14, 2008

CHildren is a choice To have a child is a choice to be made by the woman and her husband. It is possible to avoid many of the syndromes mentioned above by in vitro fertilization. You may see some information in our site:
www.amotatchen.org .

We also offer fertility tourism to Israel for the best treatments.

Warm regards,

Ofra Balaban
CHEN - Patient Fertility Association
Israel Reply

Anonymous Hillsboro, OR December 12, 2008

Being alone and not having children That was my dream, a family. I was married very young. Thought I had found the right man for me. But later on found out that on my wedding day my husband was high on cocaine and from that day forward my marriage spiralled downhill. I wanted my parents to like my husband so I spent alot of time trying to make them think that he was good to me. Sometimes he was and sometimes it was crazy. I tried to have a baby 4 times and 4 times I failed. I was three to four months along with my first baby and on the day I lost my baby I had to go visit my husband in Banning road camp. On the way home is when I felt the most excruciating pain in the world. I wanted to die. After my four miscarriages, I ended up getting a divorce. Til this day I still torture myself with thoughts of why me? Why did I fail? And why I am still alone at age 46? I am the most giving person in the world. I think I would of been a good mom. In 1991 I almost died from a tubular pregnancy. I never was pregnant again. Reply

Anonymous Chicago, Il. via skokiechabad.org September 29, 2007

Child Free I am so glad to hear an Orthodox rabbi say that childless women (and men) are not "cursed" I thought that the Jewish religion viewed childlessness as a tragedy, and childless people as practically worthless to society and to G-d . . . I am glad to see that at least some rabbis see the truth that people will remember you because of your deeds, not because of your children (if you have any). Think about it. How many famous people who passed away over 100 years ago are remembered because of their children? And how many ordinary people with children are remembered 100 years after they're gone? I don't know what kind of people my ancestors were, how they lived, what they did, or even their names. Reply

Lisa Providence, RI August 6, 2007

Rachel, You Made A Smart Decision! Rachel Garber of Phila, PA, you were smart NOT to have children, especially since you inherited your mother's violent temper. Also, it's sad your late husband didn't like children, and that could have been a blessing in disguise!

I have Asperger's Syndrome, which is High-Functioning Autism, and I'm prone to having a mean temper myself. It comes from having psychologically dysfunctional parents and having to deal with people who were maliciously cruel and unforgiving.
As a result, I chose to NEVER marry and have children - to this day, I have NO regrets!

I sincerely believed that I could neither handle marriage nor parenthood because of the stress - I have permanent emotional scars that will NEVER heal. I get therapy, take medications for anxiety and depression, and even belong to an organization that helps people with my behavior disorder. I'm also active at my synagogue, where I've made wonderful friends.

You shouldn't have regrets - I don't. Reply

Rachel Garber Phila, PA August 1, 2007

Not having children I am another Rachel who din't haave children, however it was a choice my late husband and I made, not because I was barren. My husband didn't like kids, and he told me if I wanted to have kids, we could, but don't have them for him. I grew up in a very violent household, and at the time had not had sufficient therapy to control my temper. And I do mean I had a temper; I feared I would be like my mother and beat my kids as she did my sisters and me. As I've gotten older, and see both of my sisters enjoying the fruits of grandmotherhood, I've regretted that decision. At the same time I would have raised children alone, because my huband (may he rest in peace), died less than ten years after our marriage. However, I've also taken much joy in being an aunt to my sisters' and sister-in-law's children, as well as being Tante Rachel to a friends young daughter. Let yourself show love to the children around you, you will be surprised what a wonderful, rewarding experience it can be. Reply

Anonymous Gilbert, Arizona July 27, 2007

adoptions There are thousands of children waiting for adoptive parents in the United States through the counties in which they reside. There are numerous websites one can search to see a sampling of those children who are more difficult to place due to health, emotional, physical or other disabilities or because they are part of a large sibling set. Many of these children can be adopted at no or little expense to the new parent(s). Many states offer adoption assistance apyments, somewhat similar to foster care payments, until the child reaches 18 years of age. Medical insurance is often provided as well. Singles can also receive children. Children are also available for adoption internationally and at a great expense. Many children are placed in orphanages when their families cannot afford to support them or when they have a defect such as cleft lip and cleft palate. Not all children available for adoption in the USA or internationally are close to newborn age. Reply

Anonymous July 25, 2007

Thank you for for writing so movingly & responding about this very sensitive subject. Too many in our community are dismissive of barren women. We all have contributions to make, to give in our lifetime. Perhaps you could follow-up with advice on adoptions? Reply

Anonymous Gilbert, Arizona July 23, 2007

No physical children Please tell the childless woman to run, not walk, to her local county department of children's services and apply to adopt one or more children "at her age." Countless children are awaiting homes. I know. I did it at her age also. My wonderful child is now hoping for a sibling and so am I. Reply

Anonymous Chicago, IL July 22, 2007

Thank you Dear Mrs Weisberg, you article is illuminating. My daughter passed away several years ago by way of heart trouble. I have often agonized over this question. Your article is uplifting and puts things into focus. Bless you for writing this article. Reply

CHEN Patient Fertility Association holon, israel June 18, 2007

late pregnancy In the field of fertility there are some solutions for treatments in the late age of 60 but you have to ask your Rabbi and your doctor if possible in your age to have egg donation and IVF treatment . I am a mother of 2 children of IVF egg donation and I am the chairperson of the CHEN patient fertility association. in israel THere is hope. Reply

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