Aborting a Pregnancy

With regard to a woman who was experiencing psychiatric problems, the Rebbe wrote to her mother the following:

.. What follows below is really self-evident. However, in order not to leave even a shadow of a doubt in a most important matter, I must add the following lines.

I am referring to the question that has been raised about aborting the pregnancy. My reaction is as follows:

In addition to this being a most serious prohibition according to our Torah, the Torah of Life, one must remember that when the matter concerns a young wife in her first pregnancy, especially a person to whom the blessing of children is one of the greatest Divine blessings, particularly when a child is conceived and born [of a marriage that is] k’Das Moshe v’Yisrael (in accordance to the laws of Moshe and Israel), who can take the responsibility to advise her, G‑d forbid, to destroy, with her own hands, so to speak, the child she is carrying in her womb?

(From a letter of the Rebbe)

Do Not Abort

In reply to your letter: I was shocked to read there that a certain woman is thinking of having an abortion so she can free herself, G‑d forbid, from her pregnancy.

You will surely speak to her immediately and seek to convince her that she absolutely negate this thought, and the pregnancy and birth should reach their conclusion in a good and easy manner for the birth of a healthy and viable child — for so has commanded our holy Torah, the Torah of Life.

[Convey to her as well, that] when one follows the path of Torah and conducts oneself consonant to its directives, one succeeds both materially as well as spiritually, [and is blessed] with good health, ample sustenance and a blissful life.

May it be G‑d’s will that you convey to me glad tidings with regard to all the above.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 338)

In reply to your letter in which you notify me [that you are expecting a child]:

May G‑d grant that your entire pregnancy proceed to a normal and easy completion, and that healthy and viable offspring be born full term of a regular and easy birth. ...

P.S. Should there be those who desire to persuade [you] that — G‑d forbid — you perform an abortion:

Tell them that this constitutes deliberate murder of a creature who is as yet unable to protect himself from those who seek to murder him. G‑d, who formed the fetus, is the One Who previously formed [those who seek to harm the fetus], and He monitors [all, including those who seek to harm His creatures].

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av, 5731)

While we have refrained from recounting stories of the Rebbe about matters related to healing — they literally number in the many thousands and would fill entire volumeswe have included this one so that the Rebbe’s response at the end of the story can be appreciated in its context.

Rabbi Tuvia Bolton, a senior lecturer at Yeshivah Ohr HaTmimim in Kfar Chabad, related the following incident:

One afternoon, about ten years ago, I entered the office of our yeshivah in Kfar Chabad (the Chabad village in Israel) and checked the voice mail on our telephone. The first message was: “My name is Zahavah and my phone number is. ...”

She obviously had the wrong number, so I decided I’d do her a favor and call her back to let her know. I called the number she left, and when Zahavah answered I tried to explain to her that she had made a mistake. “One minute,” she said, “this is Kfar Chabad, right? I want to speak to Kfar Chabad.”

When I answered in the affirmative, she continued: “Good! Well, I have a friend called Sarah. She’s pregnant and says she can’t afford another child; she already has three and her husband doesn’t earn much, so she decided to have an abortion. I tried to talk her out of it, and even sent rabbis and experts to her. They talked to her for hours but nothing worked.

“Now she says that the only thing that will change her mind is if the Rebbe of Chabad himself calls her and personally tells her not to do it. That is why I called you. You’re Chabad, right?”

I explained to Zahavah that the Rebbe is very busy, that he prays, studies and teaches Torah twenty hours a day and also answers about one thousand letters and requests each day, so it is unreasonable to expect him to call people back on the phone.

I suggested that I was willing to send a fax to the Rebbe explaining Sarah’s situation and ask for a blessing that the next person who speaks with her should succeed in convincing her to have the baby.

Zahavah agreed, I sent the fax, and just one hour later I received a call from the Rebbe’s office that the Rebbe had issued an answer!

The Rebbe wrote, “Is it true that people spoke to her seriously and did not succeed? I will pray for her.”

I immediately called Zahavah and excitedly read her the Rebbe’s answer.

For a moment she was silent and then she slowly said, “Is the Rebbe saying that I’m lying? That no one ever spoke to Sarah?”

I really hadn’t thought about it but I realized that she had a point. I tried to think of some other possible explanation for the Rebbe’s words but she cut me off.

“The Rebbe sits over there in New York! How can he know if I’m telling the truth or not?”

There was silence for a minute; I didn’t know what to say.

Finally she said, “Well Rabbi, I want you to know that there is no Zahavah... I am Sarah. No one ever spoke to me about not having the abortion. I don’t know how the Rebbe knew! But one thing is sure — I just got the answer I was waiting for, in person, from the Rebbe. Please tell him that I’m not going to have the abortion. Tell him that I decided to have the baby and to trust that G‑d will help.”

I faxed in what she said to the Rebbe’s office and three hours later I received yet another reply:

“Thank you for the good news. It is written in a mishnah of the [Talmudic] Tractate Sanhedrin that anyone who saves one Jewish soul is as though he saved the entire world. Please tell her that she has just saved the entire world. And with that merit, G‑d will send her blessings of success, health and nachas.”

(As related by Rabbi Bolton)