7

Pru Urvu is a very important Mitzvah.

And yet many families arrive eventually to an uncomfortable question of family planning, i.g. simply stopping procreation for many different reasons.

If one has fulfilled the Mitzvah by having two boys and a girl (for all approaches), to what extent are we obligated to continue to procreate or it is just an optional Mitzvah?

10

To quote part of R. Hershel Schachter's article on the topic:

It is now several years into their marriage, and our couple has already been blessed with a son and a daughter. What now? The Talmud tells us in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua that even after one has fulfilled the biblical obligation of Pru U'rvu, he is still required to continue to have children in his later years. This idea is derived from the words of Koheles (11:6) בבוקר זרע את זרעך ולערב אל תנח ידך, v'loerev al tanach Yodecho - 'In the morning you should plant your seed and in the evening, as well, you should continue to do the same." The consensus among the Poskim is that this law of Rabbi Yehoshua is not biblical in nature, but only rabbinic.

According to the Aruch HaShulchon, the Rambam's view is that לערב אל תנח ידך does not constitute an independent rabbinic mitzvah, but is rather a Hiddur Mitzvah Min Hamuvchar (a very desirable enhancement) of Piryah V'rivyah. Hence it follows, as the Ramban has pointed out, that although one who violates any rabbinic law is considered wicked (a Rosho) and may be referred to by other people as such, one who refuses to observe this ruling of Rabbi Yehoshua regarding Lo'erev al tanach yodecha would not be considered a sinner. And although Beth Din could force someone to get married even if he did not want to, Beth Din would not force one to observe this mitzvah of having more children than the minimal two. This principle of Rabbi Yeshoshua is a statement of the proper mode of behavior (derech eretz) rather than an official rabbinic enachnent (takkanah).

  • So we all agree, it's either a mitzvah minhatorah or just something nice to do or possibly somewhere inbetween ;) – Josh K Aug 26 at 7:17
  • 1
    It would be worthwhile to pursue the change in language. The 1st half of the posuk from Kohelet is clearly referring to reproduction. But what is the meaning of "ידך"? Why is that taken to mean 'continue to have children'? And why is it stated in the language of a prohibition, while the 1st half of the posuk is a positive command? – Yaacov Deane Aug 26 at 13:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .