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July 08, 2011


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Adam Neira

The human population should stabilize at about 8 billion by 2050. As the process of turning all people to G-d continues to unfold the general welfare of various nations will improve. Having a child is the most responsible thing you can do in the world. It really is up to parents to choose how many children they have. I think I would like two but the decision will not be mine entirely.


Spacing your children and limiting the number is not a "secular" or "Western" idea. Women have been doing it for millions of years. Extended breast feeding, contraceptives and abortifacients, non-penetrative sex, none P.I.V. sex, and in extremis selling children into slavery and infanticide have all been common in times past.

"Don't have a child until the last one is walking" is an old proverb on at least four continents.

The only difference is that we have better methods now, lower infant mortality, no economic incentives and quite a number of economic disincentives for breeding in litters.


Anuran, by "family planning" I didn't mean it to be synonomous with "birth control". It's simply that the western idea of a "schedule" for having a family isn't something I particularly consider admirable.

As to careers, I'm all for opening up more opportunities for frum women. (Medicine is an area where we could use more women). But again, "career-mindedness" (as in, your career being the centre of your life) would be foreign for many frum jews, male or female. One needs to support one's family - but a career is a means, not an end. And yes, having a family kind of gets in the way of full-time study.



Family planning is hardly a "western fad". It's something people have always done. In Africa and Latin American women will walk an entire day in secret to get to a place where they can find birth control. And it isn't "secular". These are mostly religious Christians and Muslims.

I'll be blunt. In the past people had lots of children because many died. A woman would have six kids. Half might die. That's why populations stayed stable for thousands of years. People bred to replacement.

Then we got better nutrition, sanitation and medicine. More children survived. In the real world it took a generation or two for women to realize they could have two or three children with a good chance all of them would make it. In the meantime they had just as many babies, and the population shot up. Then they started having fewer.

One of the biggest changes is education and economic opportunities for women. When women have the hope of something in their lives besides being wombs with legs they cut way down on the number of children than have.

That's what happened in Europe, North America, the developed parts of Asia and so on. Now it's happening in developing countries.

The places it's not happening are ones with high infant mortality, countries that are just beginning to develop and fantasy land. Fantasy land includes places like Saudi Arabia and Charedi communities. Women have less access to education. Opportunities for women are severely limited. There is severe pressure to crank 'em out. And it's subsidized in ways which completely distort how things work in the real world.

If you look at the frumma women work. But there's a strong prejudice against them getting real education. A bullshit "certificate" maybe. Not a real degree. Oh, there are a few acceptable professions, almost all things like therapy, childhood education or care-related. Carefully constrained, safely "women's work".

At some level the rabbis and mullahs understand that their power only goes as far as they can enslave their women.


Look... Many othodox jews DO have a different mentality to life. It is NOT just a "fashion" to have a big family. Many see it as a mission with a sense of purpose. JUST like many other women (and men) see their careers as being the purpose of their existence.

The mitzvah of "piryah v'rivyah" is fulfilled (I believe) once one has a family containing at least one girl and one boy.

Do we have to subscribe to the western fad of "family planning"? I think most orthodox Jews don't see it that way. You get married, and expect the kids to come along. There may be many reasons (physical health, emotional well-being, or even, in some cases, financial), to take a break, or even call it quits. But they are exceptions. This isn't halachah, it's just a different mentality to the secular one.

As to money, it is, to some degree, a question of "how long is a piece of string"? If you want a plasma TV in every bedroom, yes, you better limit the number of bedrooms you'll need. But if you see life as having a purpose, money will stretch - to a degree.

Obscene and useless waste of money IS a problem people are aware of. Note the "guidelines for weddings", made due to precisely such a situation.

But, if you don't value each and every child, you shouldn't be having them! (The "competing" fathers above are indeed disgusting). I have ten siblings, and yes, I feel my parents love them ALL, and see raising their children as fulfilling and rewarding.


I hate to post again. But this subject touches a raw nerve. Innocent Jewish children are being born into completely impoverished families in the U.S. and Israel. These families in turn raise more impoverished families. These large families are in no way sustainable. What would happen if a serious economic collapse? What will they do without the money they get from hard working tax payers? It is terrifying to think about.


If he was your (I assume Chabad) shaliach, wasn't that his job? Does he not have income from that job?

Posted by: R. Wisler | July 08, 2011 at 02:19 PM

We are talking about a campus shliach (students spend their days in lecture or the library). I'm not sure if i'd consider donations (almost exclusively from family/chabaad and 2-3 years of Rohr money count as "income". This person has failed to develop ANY regulars and has alienated more jews than I have fingers for. After years of failure the man now fails to support his GROWING family. But that doesn't bother him of course. The "abishter" will provide after all. All he has to do is sit at home reciting tehillim, learning, and buying expensive crown heights meat and dairy his family cannot afford.


Somehow I cannot blame those touched by the Holocaust for having lots of children.

Yoel Mechanic

Jansipista; i just interpreted what he wrote in the plain meaning.


It is not only how many you can support, but also how many you can be a good parent for.

How many children can parents provide a true parental experience for?

Since in these families, generally the older children look after the younger children, there is little in the way of common decency, respect, understanding, individual time, midot, etc. That is being handed over to the children.

They do all the mitzvot etc, but like automatons. (still considered as a good Jew?)

Hence the prolific disfunctionality in these families.

Rebecca Katz

As a non-Jew with 2 children, the idea that men would father 6 to 12 childre while expecting their wives to support them financially is mind-boggling. I'm amazed women remain in this culture and tolerate this life. I'd like to offer them -- and women in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries that view the lives of women as secondary for bogus religious reasons, asylum, and I'd like to offer any man with more than two children a free vasectomy.


yoel- he is still orthodox just not a chassid gevezener means and x he was

Yoel Mechanic

Here, I will set an example:

Gevezener: for all these strong and proud Jewish children, how should it be financed? Also, how come you are former"Orthodox". Like what happened. Don't mean to pry but inquiring minds what to know.

Yoel Mechanic

gevezener- youre a 1st class moron you think others should finance someone elses lifestyle you are out of youre puny mind if you cant afford more then 3 then dont have them whyat in the universe are you thinking that other should give their money for youre children you fool

Posted by: jancsipista | July 08, 2011 at 12:49 PM
maybe you should *ask* him what he thinks on this issue, before assuming you know what he things, and then jumping down his throat daring to let you think he supports those things. All he said was:

>beautiful Jewish children as possible, who will be strong, proud Jews, aware of their heritage, their history, and their God.

So, how does someone *strong* and *proud* behave? Ask him that. Then if you don't like what he says you can say something, but even then why name calling?

R. Wisler

If he was your (I assume Chabad) shaliach, wasn't that his job? Does he not have income from that job?


My former shliach was a prime example of too many. Just popped out his fifth not that long ago. (He's still young don't worry, in fact he once boasted at a farbregen about his lack of birth control and that he won't stop until the babies do) This dirt bag hasn't had a job in seven year and isn't looking. Managed to beg and fool people into putting the minimum down payment on a house he has NO WAY of sustaining. He would constantly leave bills unopened for months. He sits at home all day "learning" while his wife works part time at the day school. He just put up $250 mezuzos throughout the entire house, and bought $2,500 pair of tefillin. This came out of his wife's pocket. He drives 20 miles everday in his minivan to make minyan when he can barely afford food for his FIVE children and WIFE. The man is totally unemployable. He "speaks" english, yiddish, hebrew. Yet, he isn't proficient in ANY of them. No technical skills, college degree, or even a high school education. This is what your food stamps pay for. I feel so sorry for his children and his wife.


gevezener- youre a 1st class moron you think others should finance someone elses lifestyle you are out of youre puny mind if you cant afford more then 3 then dont have them whyat in the universe are you thinking that other should give their money for youre children you fool

Gevezener Chusid

I think it's better to have 1.2 children per Jewish family and let the Arabs keep breeding like jackrabbits so that they can once and for all kick all the Jews out of Eretz Yisrael in a generation or two and the world can be at peace..... isn't that what some of you are really saying?

Somehow the world always seems to find a way to limit the number of Jews in it, so as far as I am concerned, we should make as many beautiful Jewish children as possible, who will be strong, proud Jews, aware of their heritage, their history, and their God.

And I am NOT orthodox (anymore).


one should always have as many children as one can afford it only makes sense, what doesnt make sense should not be done its as simple as that its a no brainetr.


Reb Shmarya's doing his best to lower the average, and being darn successful one might add!

Shabbat Shalom from the Dirty South


You guys, and this article, are forgetting something fundamental to the declining trend of having obscenely large families among Hareidim.
Back when Benyamin Netanyahu was Sharon's finance minister, he cut the government stipends that were given on a per-baby basis (remember all that rallying, and how they did their typical thing of blaming the world's problems on this?). Right after this, the numbers dropped DRASTICALLY.
It just goes to show that they preach about how holy and Gdlike it is, but at the end of the day, its all about money.


I think they should have a new reality show, competing with “19 and counting” to see who could produce more offspring’s.


How many are enough? The absolute upper limit is the number you can support.

Posted by: anuran | July 08, 2011 at 09:40 AM

Sometimes the best answer is the most obvious one.


How many are enough? The absolute upper limit is the number you can support.

No Light

Now to ship some of these women over to the UK and US to tell the haredim there. Living in Gateshead made my mind boggle, it makes a shtetl look progressive. Of course I'm only referring to the Haredi part, not the rest of the place. It was always jarring to see them in 21st century settings like the new bus station, or on the Metro. Don't forget though, separate buses for men and women! Nope. I'm not joking. Chaim and Sholom and Mendel would get on the #54 (direct to the shtetl) and Rivky, Yehudit and their combined 30 kids would have to wait for the #53, which took a circuitous route to the shtetl and took three times as long.

But then "single mothers" of 15 kids in the UK stand to get almost 5 grand a month in cash benefits, before housing and council tax allowance. Why would they listen to pleas to cut down on the amount of kids they're having?

BTW - the Haredi problem in Gateshead is never, ever spoken of by the local council. They know all the women are religiously married, but will not say anything about the benefit fraud going on in the community, they're too scared. There'll be occasional newspaper stirrings about the high (meaning four or five) birth rate of other communities in Newcastle or Gateshead, but if you didn't live there, you wouldn't know there was a Jewish population at all, let alone an ultra-shtark megashtetl.

The benefit changes proposed by the current govt (spit) have been labelled as direct anti-semitism by the (more vocal) Stamford Hill mob. Govt plans to limit total benefits to under 500 pounds a week (including housing assistance for the houses they totally don't own under cousin. Avi's name) should nip the birthrate in the bud pretty quickly. We'll see then whether it's really been about piety or money all along. Time will tell.

sammy weiss

why are you printing this article from a left wing news paper?


How does a woman have that many children, a husband that doesn't work, and her own career?

Alter Kocker

I worked for years in a firm that routinely hired Haredi men. It disgusted me that over the years they tended toward competing with one another over the number of times they could father a child. I finally lashed out at one who upon hearing of someone else in the firm fathering a new child said that he'd better get to work at getting his wife pregnant again. I said, that if that was his only motivation in life, he had better fear that his wife wouldn't cut his little winkie off.


I don't know if i mentioned this topic on this blog or not. But i have noticed that many haredei and chassidic families here in brooklyn and in other places are having less children.

I have seen children from families that have 10 or more children have 1-3 kids. And they are married at least 7-8 years.

I call this the "silent rebellion".

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