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Beit Hamidrash

Single Motherhood in the Orthodox community

By: Rav Yuval Cherlow

there is the question of whether a halachic ruling allowing women to conceive without getting married should have been publicized. Some rabbis criticize Rabbi Yuval Cherlow for publicizing his lenient ruling, instead of permitting single motherhood privately on a case-by-case basis.

Perhaps it’s easier to allow it in utmost discretion, without requiring a declaration which undermines the values of the traditional family.

[Rabbi Cherlow responds] “If this is Halacha, why hide it? A halachic debate must be public. The burden of proof lies on those seeking to hide. Beyond that, lack of publicity gives the Rabbinate a great amount of power. This is not a desired situation. The right situation is an open debate, while dealing with the questions being raised. In addition, the absence of a clear statement sometimes generates urban legends, which have nothing to do with reality.”

 According to Rabbi Cherlow, the connection between Halacha and science must be public as well. “There is a rabbi who offers women an alternative in the form of freezing eggs until they reach an old age. I find this outrageous. First of all, it’s an illusion. The chance that 10 eggs would be removed from a 37-year-old woman’s body and that one of them would conceive a child is zero. Second, it puts the woman in danger. We are talking about very unpleasant months for the woman, to say the least, under general anesthesia and a life-threatening situation, not to mention the immodesty in the entire process.”

What about the child’s benefit? There are those who say this is cruel.

“I find this argument invalid. The child’s benefit is a modern-Western argument, which does not exist in Judaism and doesn’t hold water. There’s no doubt that the best thing for a child is to grow up in a regular family with a father and mother, and there is no argument about that. But can anyone guarantee anything to a child born to a regular family? I can give you 10 types of normative families, which could have allegedly been forbidden to have a child because it’s not in his benefit.

This artical was published on the website 'A mother in Israel'