Apparently there is a gemara which says if a fetus is too large for the mother, then the mother is put in danger. (Heard in a recorded shiur) Where is this gemara?

[As a bonus point, why would Hashem create a baby too large for its mother to successfully give birth to since it seems Hashem gives parents all they need to succeed, based on Moshe saying as much (Bamidbar 11:12 - הֶאָנֹכִי הָרִיתִי אֵת כָּל־הָעָם הַזֶּה אִם־אָנֹכִי יְלִדְתִּיהוּ כִּי־תֹאמַר אֵלַי שָׂאֵהוּ בְחֵיקֶךָ כַּאֲשֶׁר יִשָּׂא הָאֹמֵן אֶת־הַיֹּנֵק עַל הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתָּ לַאֲבֹתָיו)?]

  • 2
    Don’t know the gemara, but modern medicine considers a too large fetus a risk factor. babycenter.com/…
    – LN6595
    Jul 12, 2019 at 15:50

2 Answers 2


I'm guessing you are looking for Bava Basra 16b

איוב לט, א. חולל אילות תשמור אילה זו רחמה צר בשעה שכורעת ללדת אני מזמין לה דרקון שמכישה בבית הרחם ומתרפה ממולדה ואלמלי מקדים רגע אחד או מאחר רגע אחד מיד מתה בין רגע לרגע לא נתחלף לי בין איוב לאויב נתחלף לי

Similarly: “Can you mark when the hinds do calve?” (Job 39:1). The womb of this hind is narrow, which makes for a difficult delivery. When she squats to give birth, I summon her a snake [derakon] that bites her at the opening of the womb, which then becomes loose, and she gives birth, and if the snake reached her one moment early or was one moment late, she would immediately die. Now, if I do not confuse one moment with another moment, would I confuse Iyov with oyev?


It's a Mishna in Oholos 7:6 that says:

הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁהִיא מַקְשָׁה לֵילֵד, מְחַתְּכִין אֶת הַוָּלָד בְּמֵעֶיהָ וּמוֹצִיאִין אוֹתוֹ אֵבָרִים אֵבָרִים, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁחַיֶּיהָ קוֹדְמִין לְחַיָּיו. יָצָא רֻבּוֹ, אֵין נוֹגְעִין בּוֹ, שֶׁאֵין דּוֹחִין נֶפֶשׁ מִפְּנֵי נָפֶשׁ:‏

If a woman is having trouble giving birth, they cut up the child in her womb and brings it forth limb by limb, because her life comes before the life of [the child]. But if the greater part has come out, one may not touch it, for one may not set aside one person's life for that of another.

This Mishna is quoted partially in Sanhedrin 72b:

איתיביה רב חסדא לרב הונא יצא ראשו אין נוגעין בו לפי שאין דוחין נפש מפני נפש ואמאי רודף הוא שאני התם דמשמיא קא רדפי לה‏

Rav Ḥisda raised an objection to Rav Huna from a baraita: If a woman was giving birth and her life was being endangered by the fetus, the life of the fetus may be sacrificed in order to save the mother. But once his head has emerged during the birthing process, he may not be harmed in order to save the mother, because one life may not be pushed aside to save another life. If one is permitted to save the pursued party by killing the minor who is pursuing him, why is this so? The fetus is a pursuer who is endangering his mother’s life. The Gemara answers: This is not difficult, as it is different there, with regard to the woman giving birth, since she is being pursued by Heaven. Since the fetus is not acting of his own volition and endangering his mother of his own will, his life may not be taken in order to save his mother.

And this is the Halacha as documented in Choshen Mishpat 425:2

לפיכך העוברת שהיא מקשה לילד מותר לחתוך העובר במעיה בין בסם בין ביד מפני שהוא כרודף אחריה להרגה ואם הוציא ראשו אין נוגעין בו שאין דוחין נפש מפני נפש וזהו טבעו של עולם:‏

All translations copied from Sefaria, unedited

  • Does this show a baby too large? This is just an abortion procedure when the baby poses an unnamed risk to the mother. Cutting it up was necessary as the cervix and vaginal canal hadn't expanded yet.
    – user6591
    Jul 14, 2019 at 11:58

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