My wife and I have been married for 14 years. We are very happy except that we have not been blessed with children. We have gone through various fertility treatments. Unfortunately we recently failed for the 17th try at in vitro fertilization. Basically we have tried everything – the adoption route, and even donor eggs.
Of course there is always hope and this is why I am contacting you. We think that perhaps at our wedding there was some bad vibes of evil eye (Ayin Hara). It was suggested that if we get divorced, the Ayin Hara will be broken, and then we could get remarried and maybe get pregnant.
I know this is unusual, but we are desperate. I would appreciate any advice you could give us, because right now anything goes. She is 43 and I'm 50. So if not now, when?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
I sympathize with your pain and frustration, and I commend you for doing all you can to find the best solution to a very challenging situation.
However, I don’t think this “divorce plan” is a good idea. Given the first injunction in the Torah – “Be fruitful and multiply” – someone who does not have children is obligated to marry someone who can bear children. Since you are already married, you need not marry someone else. However, if you divorce, it would be incumbent upon you to marry a woman with whom you have a better chance than your wife to have children.
The point I think you should focus on right now is the Talmudic saying that a person should never give up hope, even in the bleakest circumstances (Brachot 10a). Medical research is constantly improving, and any condition can surely, with God's help, have its remedy. For some cutting edge ideas, visit the website of Dr. Sherman Silber, a friend and world-class expert in the field – www.infertile.com.
For the halachic aspects of testing sperm to enhance pregnancy chances – see Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer II E.H. 1:7). The permitted methods vary, but no responsible couple would be married even two years without getting tested.
Another good resource is www.atime.org, a huge support network of Jewish couples who have gone through the pain of infertility.
Another wonderful option is adoption. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 19b) says that one who raises an orphan in his home, it is as if he had given birth to him. Thus, a couple who physically cannot bear children, can raise a child and it will be considered as if they had given birth to the child. I highly recommend a book called "The Bamboo Cradle" by Avraham Schwartzbaum, the story of an American couple who adopted a baby in China, and the amazing Jewish journey that results.
In the meantime, do not feel that your lives cannot go on without children. In the last generation, many great role models did not have children: the Chazon Ish, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky, Rabbi Simcha Wasserman, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, etc. We also have a tradition that the great prophets Chanania, Mishael and Azaria were childless ("Yalkut Shimoni" 2-Kings 245). And if at all possible, adoption is a wonderful means of raising children in your home.
The best literature on this subject, in my opinion is, Isaiah 56:3-5, which explains there are higher values in life than having children. I recommend that you read it, reread it, and strive to internalize it.