Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Delaying surgery for varicocele

21 August, 2006


I have been married for over 5 years. I was married at 20.

In the second year of marriage, my husband found out he had a condition called varicocele. This condition can make it hard to conceive in some, but not others, and can be fixed with surgery.

So, I’m sure you think, well, go fix it. At first, I figured there’s a good chance it will happen on its own, since many manage to conceive despite this, and I figured I will give Hashem time to make it work if that was His will.

Since more than 3 years have passed since then I am convinced that nothing will happen on its own. The issue is however, I do not feel like I need to have a child right now, and I am quite content to wait for surgery until I feel the need or at least until I feel time is running out. I know that halachically I am not obligated to have children, since the gemara specified that pru urvu is only for the man.

So the question is, really, is my husband required to have the surgery, since he has the mitzvah of pru urvu, or is he exempt from it since Hashem has decided to make him infertile?


We appreciate the sensitive nature of this question.

A man is not required by halacha to undergo surgery in order to fulfill peru urevu (the commandment to be fruitful and multiply). As you note, you are not personally obligated in peru urevu.

Still, surgery would be encouraged, as long as it entails little risk, because of our desire to fulfill mitzvot when it is possible to do so.

Your husband should certainly explore the medical implications of a decision to delay surgery with his physician. It might be helpful for both of you to arrange a free consultation with a Yoetzet Halacha Fertility Counselor, details here, to discuss the halachic ramifications of this decision.

This response was updated on 2 May, 2021.

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