Jan 2, 2011

A Perplexing Place in the Jewish World?

I have a question that I'm hoping my faithful readers (and maybe a few rabbis) can chime in on. The topic?

Celibacy & Judaism

How does Judaism view those who choose a celibate lifestyle? On that same note, how does Judaism view those who simply do not marry -- either by choice or circumstance? What is the approach of the Jewish community to such individuals?

Note: I know that Judaism doesn't endorse celibacy. The idea has always been that a rabbi needs to know how to advise those who ask him questions, so shouldn't he be married and experienced and able to answer questions via personal experience and a sense of empathy and/or sympathy? I know I'm simplifying here, but please discuss!

2 comments:

Chaviva said...

So, one rabbi has cited the following, with the note that this is mostly about men, because the rabbis assumed that women wanted to be married more than men.

B. Yavamot 61b

MISHNAH. A MAN SHALL NOT ABSTAIN FROM THE PERFORMANCE OF THE DUTY OF THE PROPAGATION OF THE RACE44 UNLESS HE ALREADY HAS CHILDREN. [AS TO THE NUMBER]. BETH SHAMMAI RULED: TWO MALES, AND BETH HILLEL RULED: MALE AND A FEMALE, FOR IT IS STATED IN SCRIPTURE, MALE AND FEMALE CREATED HE THEM.45
GEMARA. [This implies] if he has children, he may abstain from performing the duty of propagation but not from that of living with a wife.46 This provides support for a statement R. Nahman made in the name of Samuel who ruled that although a man may have many children he must not remain without a wife, for it is said in the Scriptures, It is not good that the man should be alone.47
Others read: [This48 implies] if he has children he may abstain from performing the duty of propagation and also from that of living with a wife. May it, then, be said that this presents an objection against the statement R. Nahman made in the name of Samuel?49 — No; if he has no children he must marry a woman capable of procreation; and if he has children he may marry a woman who is incapable of procreation.

David Tzohar said...

It is interesting to note that theoretically today a man can procreate while remaining celibate (via artificial insemination). While as you quoted it is a mitzvah to marry and note live alone, it is not a chovah, not a Torah obligation. This is of course purely theoretical. Halacha lema'aseh it is incumbant to marry and have children even after fulfilling the minimum requirement. (la'erev al tanach yadecha)

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