A wonderful event in human life is the birth of a child, the opening theme of our Torah reading.1 On one level, this is the product of a biological process: nature. On another, it is an expression of the spiritual union and love of the parents. The Torah states that since man and woman were originally one being, Adam before he was divided into Adam and Eve, "therefore a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh."2 The famous commentator Rashi explains that "one flesh" means the child they bring into the world together.

The parents, however, do not have independent power to bring a child into the world. Together with them, in partnership, is G‑d. The process of conception and healthy birth has a miraculous quality. Further, G‑d implants a Divine spark in the child—the soul. This is a part of G‑d which enters the world within the person in order to improve existence, to transform it into a realm of harmony.

The process of conception and healthy birth has a miraculous qualityA miracle can be defined as something which directly reveals the power of the Divine. Nature also is created by G‑d, and in every detail is directed by G‑d. However, in daily life, it is easy to see only the material aspect of nature and to forget its Divine source. By contrast when a miracle occurs the Divine signature is obvious.

In this sense, reproduction has the quality of a miracle, in particular the birth of a child who is destined to reveal G‑dliness in the world, which is the task of every Jewish child, boy or girl. Given this special significance of birth, it is not surprising that there are special Jewish laws concerning it. There are laws concerning who one may marry, about the sacred union within marriage and about the Jewish upbringing of the child. The Torah reading mentions circumcision, and aspects of the laws of Family Purity, the mikvah. The mikvah highlights the spiritual dimension of intimacy, and also psychologically preserves a sense of freshness and renewal in marriage. In the Torah reading we also learn of the offerings brought by a woman to the Temple after having a baby. These were among the most common offerings. It was a way of saying "Thank you" for the miracle.

Marriage itself can be seen as a combination of the natural and the miraculous: at least ideally, the enduring and growing appreciation of the inner qualities of one's spouse, the ever increasing recognition of the illumination of the soul which, according to Chassidic teaching, is the other half of one's own.3