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It seems there are some people who specifically don't want to know their baby's gender before birth. Is there any halachic basis to this, or is it just superstition?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I know of one posek who proved that this is perfectly fine, from the fact that many seforim cite traditional segulos to determine a fetus' gender. Obviously, then, there is nothing improper about knowing the gender beforehand. (One could argue that knowing with certainty is worse, but this seems like a distinction without a difference. And besides, even sonography is far from foolproof.)

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Would it be "improper" if you lived in China or India? – Daniel ben Noach May 30 '11 at 2:47
@Daniel_ben_Noach - why should it make a difference where you are? – Dave May 31 '11 at 0:54
In Asia, if you got a sonogram, it would be assumed that you were intending to have an abortion if the baby is a girl. – Daniel ben Noach Jun 9 '11 at 12:20
@Daniel - your concern is what the sonographer might think? – Dave Jun 10 '11 at 5:55
"one posek who proved" is pretty vague. Can you provide the source, please, assuming that this was published? – Matt Mar 23 '14 at 4:12

The Shailos Rav (by Rav Chaim Kanievsky), in 12:2, says one should not do it based off the Koheles Rabbah 11:5 and also can be seen in Medrash Rabbah Toldos 65:12 that says seven things are hidden from man and one of them is knowing the gender of a child in the womb .

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Do you have a source for saying R'CK said so? How do you know? – msh210 May 2 '12 at 5:08
Yes in his sefer Shailos Rav perek 12:2,his source is from Koheles rabbah. – sam May 2 '12 at 5:15
Thanks. I've added the citation per your comment: you could have done so yourself instead of replying to me in a comment. But I'm confused: in the answer you say his source is B'reshis Raba and in the comment you say it's Koheles Raba? – msh210 May 2 '12 at 5:18
He quotes koheles Rabba but it is quoted in a few places,i guess it might be easier to find in the source I gave.I am sorry about not adding it in I am looking for kohels rabba source and then will add it. – sam May 2 '12 at 5:24
Thanks so much! – msh210 May 2 '12 at 5:24

It sounds like superstition. However, I know some don't want to know the baby's sex, so that they have a level of enjoyment after the long birthing process of finding out whether the baby is a boy or a girl. I am sure others might have other reasons. I don't know of any halachik basis.

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It seems that it it Muttar, though some would say it isn't ideal. R' Avraham S. Avraham writes the following (Nishmas Avraham Vol 2, p109):

.. Incidentally, is a woman permitted to undergo sonography (ultrasound) to learn what the sex of the fetus is? The Midrash (Midrash Rabah, Bereishis 65:12) enumerates seven things whichare hidden from man, one of them being the sex of the fetus.

The Yefei To'ar gives two reasons for this: This knowledge may grieve the parents throughout the pregnancy if the sex of the baby is not of their choice; if they wish for a boy and discover that this is indeed the sex of the fetus, it will diminish their joy at the birth and the mother will not have the full reward for her labor pains.

On the other hand, the Gemara (Pesachim 54b) also enumerates the seven things that are hidden from man but the sex of the fetus is not one of them.

Rav Neuwirth shlita [zatzal] told me that it woould be preferable not to undergo sonography for this purpose.

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It says the things are hidden. That just isn't true anymore. It never says we have to hide it to retroactively "justify" the medrash. – Double AA Mar 23 '14 at 2:31

I was in a shiur Rav Moshe Heinemann gave 3 years ago about halachos of pregnancy and childbirth, and he said that it is completely permitted and people just haven't gotten used to the idea yet.

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