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

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Rabbinic Obligation to Procreate

26 February, 2004


Could you explain to me the rabbinic obligation to have more than a boy and a girl or two children? Does it exist? What is the actual text? What have the prominent halachic authorities said about it?


The rabbinic obligation to continue to procreate even after fulfilling the quota set by the Torah is expounded from the verse in Ecclesiastes 11:6 “In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not desist.” In the Talmud (Yevamot 62b), R. Yehoshua explains that a man should have children both in his youth and in his old age, and the Shulchan Arukh rules according to his opinion (Even HaEzer 1:8). The exact definition and parameters of this rabbinic admonishment are the subject of much discussion and debate among halachic authorities, although most agree that one may not decide to cease and desist from procreating forever. Our founding rabbinic supervisor, Rav Yehuda Henkin z”l, considered a couple to have fulfilled both periya ur-viya and la-erev with a total of two boys and two girls.

Updated 10 September, 2023


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