Family planning-Contraceptives and Birth Control in Jewish law-Summary

* This article is an excerpt from the above Sefer

Family planning-Contraceptives and Birth Control:[1]

The use of a contraception touches upon several possible prohibitions, including 1) Zera Levatala, 2) Transgressing Peru Urevu or Liareiv, 3) Prohibition of castration. This is dependent on the type of contraceptive being used, the number of children one already has, the medical and mental state of the mother, and the reason for why a contraceptive is desired. Aside for this possible letter of the law Halachic impediment, there are also Hashkafic reasons to abstain from using a contraceptive even when there is room to be lenient according to Halacha, as is well known that the Rebbe[2] and other Gedolei Yisrael urged couples to have large families and avoid family planning. Practically, the general approach today amongst accepted Rabbanim is to only permit the use of a contraceptive if there is a real and legitimate physical and/or mental health reason applicable for doing so, or if it may affect the nursing of a newborn child. Every couple who is contemplating using a contraceptive is to bring up the matter to a qualified Rav, explain to him the reasons for why a contraceptive is being considered, and if deemed valid, to then ask his Halachic direction as to which type of contraceptive may be used and is recommended to be used, in the case of their predicament.  



May a couple avoid intercourse during her days of ovulation in order so she does not become pregnant?[3]

If he has yet to fulfill the Mitzvah of Peru Urevu [i.e. one boy and one girl] then it is forbidden to do so, and he must try to have relations specifically during the days of ovulation so she can conceive. However, if he has already fulfilled the Mitzvah of Peru Urevu, then if there is a justifiable reason such if the pregnancy is difficult for her or she has much difficulty raising her children, then it is permitted to abstain from intimacy during her ovulation period and perform Onah during the other days in which she cannot become pregnant. It is however forbidden to abstain from intimacy during her ovulation period without a justifiable reason, as even after fulfilling the Mitzvah of Peru Urevu one remains obligated in the Mitzvah of Sheves. Practically, a competent Rav is to be contacted in all cases.


[1] See Michaber E.H. 5:11-12; 23:5; Rambam Issurei Biyah 16:10; Chelkas Mechokek 5:6; Beis Shmuel 5:14; Taz 5:7; Radbaz 1596 [prohibition of using Moch unless there is Sakana]; Chasam Sofer 20, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 5:11; Pischeiy teshuvah 23:2; Igros Moshe E.H. 21 [IUD] 22 [Heter for mental health reasons]; 24 [Using pills if weak]; E.H. 4:62 [regarding C-section]; Minchas Yitachak 26;  Nishmas Avraham E.H. pp. 131-143 for full overview of opinions in Poskim; Encyclopedia Hilchatit Refuit [Shteinberg] volume 4 Erech Menias Hirayon pp.724-820 [full overview in both Halacha and medicine]; Shulchan Menachem 6:2 [p. 8-17]; Article by Rav Herschel Shachter, RY of YU “Halachic aspects of Family Planning,” printed in journal of Halacha and contemporary society; Taharas Yisrael 240:37-40; See Toras Hayoledes Chapter 64

[2] See Sichas Yud Shevat 5730; 6th Tishreiy 5741; 24th Teves 5741; Rosh Chodesh Shevat 5741; Beshalacha 10th Shevat 5741; 15th Shevat 5741; 23rd Iyar 5742; 20th Av 5742; Erev Rosh Hashanah 5742; Bamidbar 25th Iyar 5743; 6th Tishreiy 5744; 13th Tishreiy 5744; 11th Nissan 5744; 27th Elul 5744; 6th Tishreiy 5745; 16th Adar 5747; Friday Sukkos 5748; 11th Shevat 5749; Sheyikadesh Atzmo [Nachmanson-2015] p.  114-116

[3] Igros Moshe E.H. 1:102

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