1. Religion & Spirituality
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Birth Control

By

Does Jewish Law Permit Birth Control?

The first mitzvah (commandment from God) in the Torah states: "And God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it'" (Genesis 1:28). The Talmud interprets this to mean that every Jewish man should father at least one boy and one girl (Yevamot 61b).

Still, Jewish Law, Halacha in Hebrew, does permit certain methods of birth control in appropriate circumstances.

Methods

Jewish Law prohibits men from destroying or wasting seed.

Hormonal forms of birth control, such as pills, patches, injections and implants, are acceptable.

In contrast, contraceptive methods such as coitus interruptus, condoms and vasectomy, that destroy or block the passage of seed, are forbidden by most orthodox rabbinic authorities. The use of condoms, however, may be acceptable if it is protecting against the spread of an incurable sexually transmitted disease.

Circumstances

While many orthodox Jews believe that God does the family planning and birth control is not a necessity, Jewish Law does clearly permit birth control in certain circumstances. The Talmud recognizes the use of birth control by women who are very young or nursing. Birth control is acceptable if a couple already has a boy and a girl. And birth control may even be advised when pregnancy poses a risk to the mother or baby.

In Practice

The great majority of Jews today, primarily non-orthodox Jews, tend to use their preferred method of birth control, regardless of whether seed is wasted or destroyed, and to use birth control as a means to realize their family plan. Orthodox Jews are more likely to use only hormonal methods of birth control and only under certain circumstances.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.