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Surrogacy in Orthodox Judaism


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Kislev 10, 5775
Is surrogacy immoral according to Orthodox Judaism?
It is most natural for all people, to wish to have children, as Rachel told Ya’akov, “Give me children, and if not, I am (like) dead”, and at one point, felt the only way to do so was through Bilha, her maidservant, having children with Ya’akov. Accordingly, we wish to help anyone and everyone fulfill this Godly desire to “create worlds” and build a family, as much as possible, through the wisdom which God has revealed to modern science and technology. The Heavenly gift of the barren conceiving, is already possible in 90% (!) of the couples, who were previously considered barren, and it’s meant to be utilized and appreciated. There is a difference of opinion among current halachic authorities, but when a couple can otherwise not conceive, their rabbi will inevitably rely upon the lenient opinions regarding gestational surrogacy, where the sperm and egg are from the married couple. This is usually done through minimizing anything even slightly resembling adultery or incest, for example, using an un-married woman, who is not related to the biological mother or father, to carry the fetus. For this reason, some authorities even prefer using a non-Jewish surrogate woman (to prevent the even remote possibility of any future incestual marriage of the child with relatives of the surrogate, later in life), while others prefer using a Jewish surrogate. Regarding Noachides and gentiles, as well, the Godly dream and desire to build a family is important to all mankind, even if technically “be fruitful and multiply” isn’t one of the 7 Noachide commandments. Just as Rachel was not technically obligated, the innate nature to want children is also from the same Creator/Commander.
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