I have a friend who is dating and does not want to get genetically tested because she says that "if someone is supposed to have a child with a disease they will have one, regardless if they get tested". Is getting tested a lack of faith?


Your question hits very close to home: my sister's child was born with Canavan's Disease, before genetic testing was available. (Canavan's is one of the "Jewish" diseases, like Tay Sachs.) Yankie was a beautiful child with a glorious smile and an incredibly holy soul - but couldn't do anything except turn his head, smile, laugh, cry and swallow (and not very well). He died at 15… I don't wish this particular heartache on anyone.

This fatalistic attitude of "if it's meant to be it will happen" is not a sign of faith in G‑d. Does your friend also say, "I don't need to go to work. If it's meant for me to have money, then G‑d will provide… I don't need to study for a test; if it's meant for me to do well, then I'll do well… I don't have to take care of my health, take my medicine when I'm sick, drive carefully, or not jump out of a 10-story building – because I have faith that if I'm meant to be alive and healthy, G‑d will take care of me"?

A person must create some sort of tangible means to receive G‑d's blessings, as he might place a barrel outside to receive the rain, or plow a field so that the rain will be absorbed rather than run off. This is what the Torah means when it says, "And the L‑rd your G‑d will bless you in all that you do and in all your endeavors (Deuteronomy 15:10)." Yes, we must understand that it's not our own efforts that sustain us, but G‑d's blessing; however, it is His will that this blessing be channeled through "all that you do." In other words, we are required to provide a natural channel for the divine blessing, while at the same time remembering that it is no more than a channel.

Of course, whatever happens is in G‑d's hands. Nevertheless, when He offers us the opportunity to be partners in that blessing, it is our obligation to do our part. Your friend should take the genetic tests, and do whatever is in her power to ensure that she will have healthy children.

There is an organization that specifically provides genetic testing for the Jewish community. By making available genetic screening to members of the worldwide Jewish community, Dor Yeshorim (also called Committee for Prevention of Genetic Diseases) seeks to minimize, and eventually eliminate, the incidence of genetic disorders common to Jewish people, such as Tay-Sachs disease.

Dor Yeshorim is based in Brooklyn, New York, but has offices in Israel and various other countries. You can call them at 718-384-6060.