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!