1. We have gathered together in connection with the annual convention of Nshei uBnos Chabad (the Lubavitch Women’s Organization). The aim of our gathering is to enhance the lives of every Jewish women and girl, and thus enhance the lives of their husbands, sons, and brothers. Our Rebbeim would frequently say that when one Jew meets another, he must try to see that their meeting produces a benefit for a third individual. Surely, today’s meeting, at which many women are assembled, is intended to benefit all Jews whom we can possibly reach.

The above is true at all times, for “Love your fellowman as yourself” is a great principle of the Torah. A general principle includes within it many particular facets. “Love your fellowman as yourself” is a basic principle of the Torah encompassing a great number of details. In fact, Hillel calls it the entire Torah, (the rest being merely explanation). Thus, when a Jew fulfills the Mitzvah of Ahavas Yisroel, he fulfills the entire Torah.1

Torah is called “our life.” Just as life must be continuous, never ceasing — not even for a moment — similarly, our connection with Torah must be constant. Thus, it follows that our love for our fellowman — a great principle of the Torah — must relate to every moment of our lives.2

From the above, it is obvious that the resolutions taken by the convention must be permeated with Ahavas Yisroel. May the resolutions be good — good for those who make them and good for the entire Jewish people. May all those who have come here take with them good, light, and holiness.

2. The resolutions accepted at the convention must call for activities that will reach and influence every Jewish woman. Even though a special committee was chosen to supervise this — and they have a greater merit and obligation — nevertheless, everyone who has participated in the convention has the responsibility and the mission to fulfill the resolutions; to explain them to every Jewish woman in a pleasant manner, in a form they can relate to. Since the resolutions are based on the Torah, to which the hearts of every Jew naturally responds, they will surely be accepted. All that is necessary is that they be explained properly.

May these resolutions be accepted with joy and may they permeate every aspect of our personalities. Thus, they will immediately bring success.

The above shares a special connection to the time when the convention is held, in the week shortly following the holiday of Shavuos, a holiday which makes us more conscious of Torah, Mitzvos, and Yiddishkeit in general.

It is also significant that this gathering is being held in a holy place, a place in which we study and pray and, particularly so, since, according to the program, this gathering was preceded by prayer and study. Surely, we shall all fulfill (or have already fulfilled) the Mitzvah of Tzedakah, (in a greater degree than usual), thus adding the third pillar on which the world stands, and bringing about increased blessings throughout the world.


3. The above is connected with the Torah reading of the coming week which contains a clear lesson concerning the mission and responsibility of every Jewish woman. This week’s portion, Shelach, speaks of the Mitzvah of Challah. This Mitzvah has been entrusted to every Jewish woman. “The first of your dough” — the beginning of any food or drink served in the house must be connected with — “you shall set apart a portion unto G‑d.” First, a portion of the food is given to G‑d and only afterwards does a Jew consider how he and his family can benefit from it. In this manner, the entire house, and every member of the household, becomes connected with G‑d. G‑d “dwells within” the heart of every Jew and every Jewish home. The fulfillment of this Mitzvah has been entrusted to every Jewish woman. She fulfills the Mitzvah with a blessing and by doing so brings a blessing to her home.

The convention is also connected with the Torah portion read on the previous Shabbos, Parshas Behaalos’cha, which describes the kindling of the Menorah in the Sanctuary (and later the Temple) by Aharon and his descendents. Every Jewish home is a Sanctuary and a Temple for G‑d. The responsibility for lighting the Menorah in the Sanctuary was Aharon’s. In the Jewish home the responsibility for kindling “the candle of Mitzvah and the light of Torah” in every Jewish home has been entrusted to every Jewish woman. Although, in a larger sense, every Mitzvah is a candle,3 the Mitzvah of lighting candles in honor of Shabbos and Yom Tov particularly emphasizes this quality, bringing about light that can actually be seen and can light up the darkness of the world. Our sages tell us that through lighting Shabbos candles we will merit to see the “candles of Zion.”

The conclusion of Parshas Behaalos’cha also alludes to the third Mitzvah given to women, the Mitzvah of Taharas HaMishpachah. The Torah relates how the Jewish people, Moshe, Aharon, and even the ark and the Divine Presence waited an entire week without journeying further in order that Miriam could rejoin them. The merit of each of the three: Moshe, Aharon and Miriam caused a specific benefit to the Jewish people in the desert. In Moshe’s merit, the Torah and the manna were given; in Aharon’s, the cloud of glory; and in Miriam’s, the well. The well traveled together with the Jews throughout their forty-two journeys in the desert. In addition to providing water, Miriam’s well also made it possible for the Mitzvah of Taharas HaMishpachah to be fulfilled. There was no other source of water in the desert. Thus, it was Miriam’s well that served as a Mikvah and allowed for the birth of children during the forty years. This Mitzvah is also connected with the redemption, when G‑d will purify the Jewish people. In fact, the prophet Yirmiyahu (17:13) refers to G‑d as the “Mikvah of Israel.”

4. This convention marks the conclusion of the first twenty-five years of N’shei uBnos Chabad’s activities. We must “always proceed higher in holy things.” Regardless of the achievements of the first twenty-five years, we must add more good, light, and holiness, for “good” is boundless. Furthermore, the experience gained in the first twenty-five years will surely enhance the success of the years to come.4 Then, with the conclusion of the second twenty-five years, N’shei Chabad will have completed a Yovel, a time period which the Torah calls “forever.”

In general, anniversaries of this nature, particularly those related to Yiddishkeit, Torah, and Mitzvos, are associated with special resolutions to proceed further, thus showing that Yiddishkeit has no end. Just as G‑d is infinite, so too, is Yiddishkeit. It is therefore necessary to continue to grow.

The above is connected with a matter which for strange, inexplicable reasons, is entirely ignored. It is not spoken about and no efforts are made to correct the situation.

All the Mitzvos mentioned above have a direct affect on a Jew’s general behavior. Through Challah, which includes in a larger sense the entire realm of Kashrus, the body becomes a Kosher body with Kosher thoughts, speech, and words. Also, the lighting of the Shabbos candles influences the household for the entire week until the candles are lit again.5 Similarly, the practice of Taharas HaMishpachah has an effect on the life of the husband, the wife, and all the descendents that result from their union.

Despite its importance, the Mitzvah of Taharas HaMishpachah is rarely given public mention. It was possible to argue that at one time people were embarrassed to speak about the topic. However, in many circles today male and female relationships are openly discussed. Furthermore, due to the fact that some observant children attend schools where they come in contact with children from other homes, these matters have been introduced into observant circles as well.

Nevertheless, a Rabbi will not mention Taharas HaMishpachah in his sermon; a Torah lecturer will shy away from the subject; and an educator who teaches girls will not expose them to the topic, even if the girls will be getting married in the near future.

In previous generations educators did not have to discuss this matter, for parents would give this information to their children. However, “times have changed.” Today many parents are incapable of transmitting this information in all its details. Even those who are willing to, cannot communicate all the various laws.

There is therefore no alternative but for women to demand that Rabbis and lecturers speak about this topic. Although they may have other important topics to speak about, this subject is of greater importance. It is necessary to bring it up at every possible opportunity. Even though it is impossible to discuss all the particular laws in shul, the general topic must be spoken about with emphasis, so that families will know that the existence of the Jewish people and their redemption from Golus is dependent upon Taharas HaMishpachah. Furthermore, the topic cannot be merely brought up once and then dismissed. Directly after the speech, a time and place where a class in Taharas HaMishpachah will be held must be announced.

Needless to say the subject must be dealt with in a discreet and pleasant manner. Nothing should be demanded. However, the topic can no longer be ignored.

It is the responsibility of Jewish women to motivate their Rabbis to speak about this topic. In this country the responsibility can easily be discharged. Sisterhoods and ladies auxiliaries play an important role in their congregations and in their schools because of the functions they carry out and the money they raise. They can influence their Rabbis, lecturers, and teachers to speak about this topic. Jewish women should not rest until they have organized classes on this subject in every synagogue and in every school for girls. Do not think that since the summer vacation is coming soon that this work can be held in abeyance until the fall. Each Jewish woman and girl is a whole world (see Sanhedrin 37a) and must be cared for. Just as a business does not close in the summer, the efforts to reach out to Jewish women must continue. There are a number of courses for women, in the city and in the country, that can be arranged. These means should be used to spread the Mitzvah of Taharas HaMishpachah.

Furthermore, a great effort must be made to spread Yiddishkeit by stressing Taharas HaMishapachah. Taharas HaMishpachah is perhaps the most important factor in raising a generation of Jews who will follow the path of Torah and Mitzvos. In fact, the decline in ethics and moral behavior which we see in many homes stems from the failure to keep Taharas HaMishpachah.

In view of the above, it is fitting that this be one of the projects undertaken during the next twenty-five years of N’shei Chabad. May they speak with Ahavas Yisroel, to Rabbis, lecturers, and the principals of girls’ schools about the importance of Taharas HaMishpachah and may they publicize its fundamental position in Jewish life with true modesty.

* * *

5. There is another matter which is also ignored although it is one of the greatest tasks of the Jewish woman. The greatest blessing G‑d can give a person is children. Therefore, the blessing to have children: “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it,” is the first blessing given in the Torah. By having children “we replenish the earth and subdue it,” making the world a world of humanity and ethics.

When G‑d blesses a Jewish home, the greatest blessing He can give is sons and daughters whom the parents will raise in the ways of our ancestors, Avraham and Sarah, “following the way of G‑d, practicing justice and righteousness.” True blessings and health, in both a physical and spiritual sense, with which G‑d blesses a Jewish family are connected with that family’s keeping of Taharas HaMishpachah and having children. These Mitzvos will prevent us from being affected by the disturbing influences that have been brought into the world by the absence of Taharas HaMishpachah. Every child which is born into the family represents a greater blessing for his parents, grandparents, and siblings. The importance of each new child is seen by the fact that the state of Israel is willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for each new immigrant.

Furthermore, when the child is born G‑d gives the means to sustain him. The child is not a burden to his parents; this is their son or daughter, for whom G‑d has provided. They need not worry about making a living — G‑d “sustains and provides for all.” He carries the burden of providing for the father and mother, the son and the daughter. For a time He sustains the children through the medium of their parents. Later on, their sustenance is given to them directly. Even when the parents help their children at an advanced age, the means to do so is given by G‑d. The greatest blessing, privilege, and source of satisfaction a family can have is the opportunity to raise and educate children.

This applies to every Jewish home, even one in which the relationship between the husband and wife is in need of improvement. The Torah teaches that even a Sotah (a woman whose immodest behavior caused her to undergo the test described in the Torah) is blessed with children if she is found to be innocent of the charges brought against her.

There are those who argue that it is necessary to wait for the relationship between a husband and wife to reach the highest possible level before having children. They believe that people should refrain from having children until the atmosphere in the home is the most refined. The Torah teaches that even in cases where the relationship is less than perfect, children are a blessing.

All the arguments for preventing the birth of children — that the family relationship is not good enough, that there is a possibility they will not receive a proper education, that the funds to raise them must be secured — have one source: the Yetzer Hora (evil inclination).

The Yetzer Hora is very clever. If he would present himself openly no Jew would even listen to him. Therefore, he puts on “Jewish clothes,” — a “silk Kafton” — and tries to persuade the Jew that it is a Mitzvah not to have children. “This way,” he will say, “You will have more time to devote to valuable projects, etc.” However, we must realize that despite these devices, the arguments are those of the Yetzer Hora, and there is nothing that the Yetzer Hora wants that is good for a Jew.

If someone has questions about this matter, they can resolve them by looking at what has happened to couples who have limited the number of their children. This program has been called a very diplomatic name, “family planning.” Its proponents maintain that since every aspect of a person’s life should be planned out in advance, a plan must also be developed concerning how many children to have and at which stage of life to have them. On the surface, such a plan may sound attractive. However, this attractive phraseology covers up a terrible danger, the nature of which can be appreciated only by examining the effects of family planning. A look at the results proves dramatically how it has strained relationships and emotional hardships between husbands and wives.

When the normal process of marital life, as decreed by G‑d in the Torah, is altered, and altered radically, the peace of the household is bound to be disturbed. “Family planning” is opposite not only to a Torah approach to married life, but to a normal human approach to life. It has caused couples to seek psychotherapy, marriage counseling, etc. Instead of bringing order into their lives, family planning has disturbed the order established by G‑d in the Torah. Torah law shows us how to live a normal day-to-day life, a true life. The greatest Mitzvah called for by this life-style is having children — as many as G‑d wants — without trying to make His accounts for Him.

This course of behavior brings about blessings in all matters — abundance of children, life, and wealth: children — healthy children, happy children, true Jewish children; life — a life free of complications, for, as can be seen from common everyday examples, those homes that practice family planning are filled with disturbances and complications; wealth — for G‑d will bless the couple with sustenance. Furthermore, they will not have to worry about paying extra doctor and medical bills, for the father, mother, and the children will all be healthy. The life-style they practice is healthy, and it will soon affect all those around them, making their environment a healthy one.

Every Jewish woman must appreciate that her behavior can affect the entire world, as the Rambam (Hil. Teshuvah 3:4) says: With one Mitzvah every Jew can bring salvation and deliverance to the entire world. This is particularly true now that N’shei Chabad is beginning a new era of activity. It is necessary to spread the above message to all Jewish women. Particularly at conventions where Jewish men or women gather together to discuss topics of importance, this should be mentioned. We should no longer be ashamed to speak about these issues. They constitute one of the fundamental principles of Judaism and of humanity in general.

In the past, N’shei Chabad has instituted various programs which at first met opposition in certain circles. However, within a short time those in opposition reversed their approach and agreed that these matters were necessary and essential. Surely the same pattern will take place in regard to the present matter. N’shei Chabad must issue the first call to action, publishing it in every country and language (in a modest and proper manner), proclaiming that the world and all its particular aspects are controlled by G‑d. He gave every Jew the candle of Mitzvah and the light of Torah — a Torah of life which illuminates our daily life. By following G‑d’s Mitzvos as brought down in the Shulchan Aruch, we follow a path of light. In doing so, all plans are left to G‑d. In contrast, “family planning” destroys a marital relationship, threatens the future of the Jewish nation, and delays the coming of Moshiach. May it be G‑d’s will that every one of you make a resolution to speak to Jewish women about this matter, asking them to have mercy on their husbands, and on their children who want another brother or sister. When they speak from the heart, their words will enter the heart.

When the Jews were exiled in Egypt, there were those who did not want to have children because of Pharaoh’s decree (to throw their sons into the river), and because of the harsh labor the Jews were forced to undergo. Despite these difficulties, the Jewish women ignored Pharaoh and his decree and raised “the hosts of G‑d” — boys and girls who became G‑d’s soldiers and received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. Furthermore, the children became guarantors — the surety in whose merit Moshe, Aharon, and the entire Jewish people, received the Torah.

The prophet Michah (7:15) declared, “As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders.” We are in the last generation, the last years, the last months, the last weeks, before Moshiach’s coming. Just as then it was the merit of the righteous women that caused the Jews to be redeemed, now too, our future redemption will come through the merit of the women. All that is necessary is that a storm of excitement be created and that everyone be given a push.

We should not be shaken from our resolve if someone says that our approach is not modern or that it is opposed to culture. To which culture is it opposed? It is opposed to the culture that brought about Hitler and the destruction which he wrought against the Jewish people. His heirs are those who prevent the spiritual growth of the Jewish people, or hold back their propagation by family planning.

There are some Jews who have been caught in this snare. However, the Jewish people are “a wise and understanding people.” Their wisdom is not their own; it comes from G‑d and from Torah. By following the Torah we will be successful, and the Jewish women will raise G‑d’s hosts — Jewish children who follow the Jewish way, even in the present Golus. Then the parents, grandparents, and children will all follow G‑d’s light — the light of Torah and Mitzvos — and proceed to greet Moshiach in the true and complete redemption, speedily in our days.

May you have a happy and healthy summer and a Jewish summer with healthy children and grandchildren. And may we soon go together to Israel where we will find a complete land — a Jewish land — with the complete Jewish people, for the Torah will be followed in a complete manner.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita on “Family Planning”
(Excerpts — abbreviated and freely translated — from his address
to the N’shei uBnos Chabad Convention, 17 Sivan, 5740)

6. Children are the most cherished Divine blessing known to mankind. “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28) is the first precept and blessing in the Torah. It teaches us that the world was created for the sake of mankind, and that it is a Divine obligation to marry and raise a family, and bring up the children in accordance with the will of the Creator, so that the world will be populated by a human race worthy and capable of “subduing it” — not only physically and materially, but also spiritually; a humanity committed to the Divine laws and justice and morality and mutual concern, under the tutelage of our Heavenly Father.

A truly blessed home is one that is filled with the joy of children, boys and girls, who are reared in the ways of our first ancestors, Avraham and Sarah, “to follow in the way of G‑d, practicing righteousness and justice” (Gen. 18:19).

Marriage, is a sacred, Divinely ordained, institution founded on purity and sanctity of family life (Taharas HaMishpachah), the observance of which is a precondition of true and lasting happiness, highlighted by the blessing of healthy offspring, healthy both physically and spiritually. Each child that is born into the home represents an additional Divine blessing to the parents and grandparents; there are no unwanted children, and no child is a burden, G‑d forbid.

Knowing that children are a blessing from G‑d, parents have no reason to be apprehensive about being able to provide for the child. Surely the Giver of the blessing will provide. And “He who feeds and sustains the whole world” is able to take care of the children as well as of the parents.

If economic considerations cannot justify the limitation of a family, what about a home where the relationship between husband and wife is in need of improvement; should they hesitate about increasing the family? We must, again, turn to the Torah for guidance. The Torah teaches us that where a wife, by reason of immodest behavior, arouses the husband’s suspicion and jealousy, thus creating a serious disruption of Sholom Bayis (harmonious relationship), but is found innocent of unfaithfulness, she will be rewarded by bearing offspring (Num. 5:29) — as a clear sign of G‑d’s favor and greatest blessing. For, children, more than anything else, cement the mutual relationship between husband and wife and the peace and harmony in their home.

In reality, any such argument for limiting the size of one’s family on grounds of economic, or social considerations, or postponing having children until the relationship attains the highest level, and the like, is contrary to the spirit and letter of the Torah. Only is most exceptional cases is the use of certain contraceptives permitted by Jewish Law — and only a very competent Rabbinic authority is qualified to rule on whether such an exceptional situation does in fact exist.

The truth of the matter is, that in the overwhelming majority of cases, all the arguments to justify birth control stem from the same source — the Yetzer Hora (evil inclination), that inner tempter, whose function is to distract a man or a woman, from the way of the Torah and test his/her faith in G‑d. This wily Yetzer works cleverly. He will not attempt to persuade someone to recklessly disregard the Divine laws, but will clothe vice in a garment of virtue, saying that whatever reprehension there may be in denying oneself another child, it will be more than offset by being able to devote more time and attention to worthy good causes, communal causes, and the like.

Aside from the religious aspect, experience has shown that couples who take the path of so-called “family planning” — a catching phrase that appeals to the sense of orderliness and forethought, and purporting to give parents the right to decide if, and when, and how many children they should have, sooner or later discover to their great dismay, that it has been counterproductive in the very areas of its supposed advantages. The actual effects of family planning have been, and are, emotional upsets, frustrations, strained relationship between husband and wife, all of which inevitably taking a toll of ill health. It has caused such couples to seek psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, marriage counseling in an effort, often futile, to straighten matters out. Thus, far from bringing orderliness into family life, family planning has caused disturbances and complications in the normal family affairs, with added financial burdens in doctors’ bills, reduced mental and physical efficiency, not to mention the fact that family planning has often proved irreversible, and would-be parents eventually discovered that the blessing of children, or more children, has, alas, eluded them.

It does not require special perception or insight to realize that when the normal physical and spiritual process of married life, as decreed by the Creator and Giver of life, is tampered with, distorted, or altered, the peace of the household is bound to be disturbed. It is folly to attempt to take over G‑d’s bookkeeping and accounting to figure out how many children He is able to care for.

Proponents of family planning have concentrated their main propaganda on the female partner in marriage, since she has the task of childbearing and rearing the infants. I therefore urge every woman not to be swayed by it, but rather reflect on the great, very great Divine blessing and privilege of motherhood, with complete trust in G‑d, that following the Divinely ordained way of life brings with it the three-fold blessing of children, life, and sustenance. Children — healthy children, happy children, and as many as G‑d will grant; life — a life free of all those complications that unfortunately afflict the homes where family planning is practiced; sustenance — in a generous measure in all needs, and more.

No wife and mother needs to feel chagrined at being dubbed “old fashioned,” or at odds with modern times and modern culture. What “modern culture”? That which produced the Holocaust? The Holocaust of a million Jewish children? Indeed, the answer is: Every Jewish woman should realize, and do all she can to impress upon others, that it is a sacred duty and eternal merit of every Jewish mother to help replenish this horrible void.

Jewish women have a proud tradition and heritage of being the “Builders of the House of Israel.” Even under the most abject conditions of slavery under the Pharaohs, with the horrendous decree of having their boy babies snatched from them and thrown into the Nile, they continued to bear children, and prolifically, even if it meant delivering them in the fields. It is this determination that produced the redeemer Moshe, and the Divine hosts, whom he led to freedom: freedom not only from physical slavery, but also spiritual freedom with the receiving of the Torah at Sinai. Moreover, it is the children of that generation, and of all subsequent generations, that G‑d accepted as guarantors that the Torah would be kept and cherished.

I further urge you, all the participants of this convention and all Jewish women everywhere, to take the initiative for a world-wide campaign to promote Taharas HaMishpachah and to bring the message of true motherhood into every home. Jewish women have historically played a crucial part in the preservation of our people, and they must do the same in the present critical times.

And in the merit of adhering to G‑d’s Plan, all human planning and designs against our people, and against humanity in general, will come to naught, and we can confidently look forward to the fulfillment of the Divine promise, through the mouth of our Prophet Michah (7:15): “As in the days of your exodus from the land of Egypt, I will show you wonders.”