5

By this I mean, what if someone is disabled in such a way a likely spouse would not be interested in him, or he can’t properly support a child or spouse?

5
  • That is correct, they are likely not going to have much eligibility attracting a possible wife. For example bi polar, so they have outbursts or serious anxiety so they may not work Commented May 1 at 3:47
  • 4
    Just as an anectode, I know a man with severe bipolar disorder who was focused on this mitzvah and married a woman with a physical disability (who of course also had a hard time finding a shidduch) and they had children right away. Definitely a hard situation, but (at least from afar) it seems to work. Commented May 1 at 8:05
  • Thank you for the comment but I’m asking as a hypothetical Commented May 1 at 13:57
  • 1
    What do you mean "not be interested in him"? No sexual attraction?
    – magicker72
    Commented May 2 at 0:08
  • 1
    @RabbiKaii You're welcome to it.
    – magicker72
    Commented May 2 at 10:40

1 Answer 1

5

Here is an attempt to answer this question, taking into account many relevant points, but not all. As always it is extremely important, nay obligatory to consult a local orthodox Rabbi before making any practical decisions regarding this, and should absolutely not rely soley on this answer, even if one reviews all the sources quoted. Especially because I have not had a chance to review all the sources in depth, which would be a very big job.

Peninei Halacha Simchat Habayit Uvirchato 4:15 on getting married to someone one isn't attracted to

  • If one spouse will not be attracted to the other, then it is not permitted to get married, as one will not be able to fulfil one's duties regarding Onah.
  • If neither are attractive (see 2 bullet points down on whether this even makes sense), but would like to get married and try to create a loving marriage and family, this is considered a very great mitzva1.
  • This is discussing situations of one or both being homosexual, but the logic would seem to be similar for this situation. As always, consult an Orthodox Rabbi for practical situations (I am mostly theorizing), but I strongly suspect that they will encourage anyone to try to get married!
  • There are no easy guidelines to this, and it's not obvious that a physical or mental disability will mean nobody will be attracted to them*, as everyone has a soul mate2, and these things are subjective, and everyone is different3.

Ibid 6:3 regarding genetic diseases that could affect the born children:

  • If one has a genetic disease that could be passed on to his children, there is a disagreement, with many holding he is exempt from the mitzva of having children, and many holding that no, it still counts as populating the world (especially if they can do IVF, and test the embryos for the disorders before implantation - one should spend up to 20% of his wealth to do this, based on Rema SA OH 656:1 - however, R' Auerbach concludes more research needs to be done)4

Ibid 6:5 regarding the obligation to marry and procreate if one is incapable of raising children

  • One who is mentally or psychologically ill, and therefore incapable of shouldering the responsibility of care for children (something to discuss with one's Rabbi), is exempt from the mitzva to procreate. Even though Rav Melamed speaks about mental and psychological illness here, he is basing it on what he wrote in 5:7 and 5:9**, which discuss more generally one's obligation be able to support a family before starting one, so perhaps we can infer from this that this would also apply to physical disabilities, if they would make it impossible for him to be a responsible husband or father5,6,7.
  • However, those sources explain that such a person, for other reasons8, shouldn't delay marriage beyond 24 (or 25), so only a very competent halachic authority should make such a decision. Either way, there seems to be far less reason to not get married, vs. not have children.
  • Therefore Rav Melamed holds that when it is possible to be married, but he is exempt from having children for these reasons, one should use contraception, such as IUD, based on R' Auerbach and Minchat Shlomo 3:103:2, in such a case.

Summary: One shouldn't marry someone one isn't attracted to, but that doesn't seem to imply that people should stop looking for a spouse just because they think they are unattractive*.

One should not have children if one is mentally unfit to do so, and quite possibly this is the case also if one is physically unfit (if one improves, this will no longer apply).

If one is a saris petzu'a daka by man made means7, then one may not get married to a born Jewess (but may marry a convert, if she agrees), but generally physical and mental unfitness is not necessarily a reason to avoid marriage (it may*** be a reason to avoid relations, which may be a reason to get divorced/not marry9, see ibid 6:4:3 on HIV). See also this question as an example of comparing modern mental conditions with the halachic category of shoteh and how this affects one's duty to marry.

A competent halachic authority should always be consulted.


* If someone is suffering low self esteem or other mental health related issues due to this, one should seek therapy ASAP.
** One may delay marriage for the sake of studying Torah, as well as to accumulate the resources to be able to support a family. Even in today's day and age when this might take them into their 30s, halacha will not permit them to wait that long deliberately, and as always they shouldn't delay it past 24.
*** We do not paskin this way, see Achiezer 3:24:5; Igrot Moshe, EH 1:63; Tzitz Eliezer 9:51:2

Sources
1. See Middot Re'aya Brit 1, Rav Kook.
2. See Moed Katan 18; Sotah 2a
3. Related. See also, and.
4. Igrot Moshe, EH 4:73:2, ibid 5:2; Tzitz Eliezer 15:43; Devar Yehoshua 3, EH1; Minchat Shelomo 3:103:1, Si'ach Nachum 96 for dissenting opinion
5. See Kiddushin 30a; Yam Shel Shlomo, Kiddushin 1:57; Rosh, Kiddushin 1:42; Sefer Hamitzvot Ha Katzar Aseh 43; Shemesh U-magen EH 2:23
6. See also Birkei Yosef, EH 1:9; Pitchei Teshuva ad loc. 5 (this is also the position of R. Moshe Azulai, grandson of Chida); Zichron Moshe, EH 1:3; R. Yitzchak Isaac Shor, Toldot Adam, EH 1:3; and Ben Ish Chai, Rav Pe'alim YD 2:30.
7. See also this answer.
8. See Beit Shmuel 1:5; full footnote to Peninei Halacha Simchat Habayit U'Virchato 5:9:5
9. Minchat Shlomo 3:103:16

1
  • Thank you, I appreciate the answer Commented May 10 at 23:27

You must log in to answer this question.

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