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It is a fact that a Jewish man who does not fulfill the mitzvah of getting married in the chuppah and having children will have to account for it in the Olam HaBa. There are also halachic cases in which mental disability may exempt someone from this mitzvah. How do these halachos apply to Jewish men with Asperger's Syndrome (mild autism)? What about moderate/severe autism? What is the definition of disability in this part of Halakha?

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  • Aspberger's is a modern invention, insofar as it's a line drawn more contemporarily and doesn't exist in halachah. I have good friends who are married with kids who have Aspberger's. It's not an ikuv in the way that more severe autism is - at which point someone probably has the halachic status of Shoteh (see here and here).
    – Yehuda
    Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 22:27
  • We don't find that a man must marry the first willing woman he meets. I infer that someone who cannot sustain a peaceful marriage is not obligated to get married. Whether it would apply here would depend on the people involved
    – AKA
    Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 6:35

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There are a few different things going on here. If someone isn't obligated in the mitzvah, then they won't be held to task for not doing it!

In severe cases of autism (as stated in the other answer), it could well be argued that the fellow is "insane" and therefore not obligated in any mitzvah.

There could certainly be cases whereby someone has sufficient mental competence to work a cash register, for instance, but is in no position to have close relationships. There is a category called "insane vis-a-vis certain aspects" (shoteh ledavar echad); they are obligated in whatever mitzvos their psyche can support.

There's been an argument made that if someone is so unsuited for marriage that it would make them more miserable than losing a huge amount of money, then again they wouldn't be obligated -- just as I'm not required to buy a lulav if it would bankrupt me. That may be the case for some cases of spectrum disorder, according to some rabbis.

For cases milder than that, someone would still be obligated to do their best to find someone compatible.

It's very hard to define these different levels; Maimonides' Code, upon trying to define "insane" vs. "partially insane" vs. "developmentally challenged", concludes with -- "you have to see each person yourself and make an individual determination."

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  • Question: if someone is only able to get married rabbinically, are they obligated to do so? Seems relevant to this answer but if you think that should be its own question, say and I will ask it
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 17:07
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There is no outright prohibition for someone on the spectrum from getting married, as even a deaf-mute is allowed to get married (Rabbinic marriage, rather than Biblical, see Shulchan Aruch EH 44:1, 67:8), although one should consult with a Rabbi, especially for stronger cases of autism.

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  • Personal hot take, as someone who worked with the developmentally disabled population for the first ten-plus years of my career: Autism is thrown around in modern psychology/therapy the way that ADHD was in the 90s. Most people with "mild autism" these days are more likely depressed, lacking in self-esteem, suffering from some type of social anxiety, or most likely some cocktail of all three. I think that any halachic examination of this topic needs to take the modern psychological zeitgeist into account if and when making sweeping declarations on a topic like this.
    – Yehuda
    Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 22:32
  • @Yehuda thanks and that sounds spot on in my ears. Is there anything about my answer you are referring to specifically?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 22:33
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    Just putting an addendum to the idea of consulting with a rabbi for stronger cases of autism. I think any rabbi who gives psak on the subject needs to understand what the concept has meant and what it has come to mean, and needs to give psak based on the individual, rather than based on the diagnosis. I think on that basis people need to be careful who they seek advice/psak from on a matter like this.
    – Yehuda
    Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 22:43
  • @RabiKaii The question is whether someone with Asperger's Syndrome is shoteh ledavar echad, and therefore, exempt from the obligation to marry. It is a fact that marriage is obligatory for someone who is not shoteh. The issue is the obligation, not the prohibition. Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 13:45
  • If they were shoteh, then there would be a prohibition, no @ZecaSzymonBotafogoWorcman? Not sure I follow your point. Happy to delete this answer if you don't think it addresses your question. Shalom covered my points and made a better case anyway. BTW regarding obligation: If someone is only able to get married Rabbinically, are they obligated?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 13:54

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