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  • Family and Society
  • Attitude Towards Other Nations

Mitzvah of procreation for Gentiles


Rabbi David Sperling

Kislev 25, 5782
Shalom Rabbis, I am a goy devoted to the observance of the Noahide Law, as commanded by HaShem in the Torah. My main sources of study of the Noahide Law are, in addition of course to the Tanakh, the Oral Torah (first of all the Gemara -Sahnedrin 56-59), the Mishneh Torah of Rambam (first of all chapters 8,9 and 10 of Hilchot Melachim), the writings of Rav Elia Benamozegh, to whom I am particularly attached because it is thanks to him that I discovered the existence of the Seven Laws of Noah; the work "the Divine Code", English translation of the original Hebrew "Sefer Sheva Mitzvot HaShem", written by Rav Moshe Weiner, and also the Italian edition of "Brit Shalom", written by Rav Oury Cherki. I fully recognize the role of the children of Israel as "Light of the Nations", as written in Isaiah 49: 6, and therefore I rely on the tradition of Rabbanim, both halachic and aggadic. This is my question. The Halakhah places the obligation to procreate on Jewish males (see Talmud Bavli-Yevamot 65b: 3-5; Shulchan Arukh-Even haEzer chap. 1). From the consultation of the Gemara (Sanhedrin 56-58), it does not emerge that this precept is included in the Noahide Law, as it is not mentioned there (see also Rambam-Mishneh Torah -Hilchot Melachim ch. 9, where this commandment is also missing for the Gentiles). It seems to me that the Gemara passage in Sanhedrin 59b clearly illustrates the legal reasons why the "pru urvu" is no longer commanding to the Gentiles, although it was originally given by HaShem to both Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:28) both to Noah and his sons (Genesis 9: 7). Now, I read that according to several Halachic authorities instead the precept in question would be binding also for the Goym, but, in the light of the aforementioned passage of Sanhedrin 59b, it seems to me a difficult thesis to be supported, also because it does not explain why in the list of the noahide mitzvot the Gemara omits to list this commandment. I have also read that some masters maintain that even the Gentiles are called to observe this precept on the basis of what is written in Isaiah 45:18: "He (Hashem) did not create the world to be desolate; [rather] to be settled he formed it." However, it seems more correct to me that, on the basis of this statement by Isaiah, it can be said that procreation constitutes a "social duty" for the Gentiles, being functional to the divine project of keeping our planet inhabited, without however being able to rise to the status of a noahide legal norm, for the reasons set out above. I would very much like to know your opinion on the above. A warm greeting Dr. Riccardo F. Gioviale-Catania,Italy
Shalom, Thank you for your question. There is a Rabbinic debate as to the obligation of non-Jews to procreate. The Shiltot of Rav Achai Gaon (165) and the Tosafot on Chagigah (2b “Lo Tohu Barah) believe that non-Jews are obligated in this command. However the Tosafot on Yevamot (62a “Bani”) believe that they are exempt. The later day codifier, Aruch HaShulchan (Even HaEzer 1,5) writes that even if it is not a command, it certainly fulfills the desire of G-d, and is a good thing. That opinion of the Aruch HaShulchan sounds similar to the approach you suggest. I hope this is of some help. Blessings. PS. It is wonderful to see such in depth learning on this subject from you. May you have every success in your studies and service of Hashem.
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