(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis

Date: Sun, 27 Feb 2000 13:07:43 -0500 (EST)
From: Russell Hendel <  rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu>
Subject: Re: Go Forth And Multiply

This might be a controversial viewpoint (it's only my POV), but the pasuk
(verse) says "Pru u'r'vu u'milu et ha'aretz..." (be fruitful and multipy
and fill up the land...)...In some cases, the land might be interpreted as
being full...I still think that Jews have a responsibility to multiply (if
they can) to continue to keep the Jewish people going, but otherwise, I
can't see any reason to encourage other people, though, since the land is
quite full...

The above QUESTION is partially right. BUT..there are 5 verses on multiplying: We
have Gen 1:28 "Be Fruitful and multiply, fill the land and conquer it"
(said to Adam), Gen 9:1 "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the land" (said
to Noach) and Gen 35:9 "Be fruitful and multiply" (said to Jacob). The
offical cap on having the land 'filled' is given in Dt1:11 by Moses "G-d
will add to you 1000 times (So the land is only filled when there are
1000 * 600,000 = 600 million Jew)--clearly we are 'short' of this goal at
present. Finally there is the famous verse Isa 45:18---"G-d did not create
the world for nought but to be SETTLED" (This verse is nicknamed the SETTLED
requirement in Talmudic literature)

Based on these verses the commandment to be fruitful is defined in Rambam
Marriages Chapter 15 1:6 as having 5 components: (a) Everyone has to
have at least 1 live male and female descendant capable of reproduction
independent of their economic status, (b) after a person has two descendants
of opposite genders he is still rabbinically obligated to have more children
**IF** he can afford it (and this is a fulfillment of the SETTLED requirement)
(c) Only MEN are **required** to be fruitful though women have a *fulfillment*
of the obligation (This is learned from the word "conquer" in Gen 1:28 which
clearly applies to men). (d) In the Talmud there is no UPPER limit placed
on the SETTLED requirement, though in my opinion based on Dt 1:11 there may
no longer be a requirement at 600 million Jews (e) There are certain
technicalities on the 2 descendants of opposite genders (eg a boy and girl
grandchild from a deceased son does not constitute fulfillment while a boy
grandchild from a deceased daughter plus a girl grandchild from a deceased
son does constitute fulfillment).

It is a simple exercise in probability theory to prove the following theorem:
If a nation demands that every couple stop reproducing as soon as it has
one boy and one girl then ON THE AVERAGE each couple will have 3 children.

There is numerous agaddic material in the Talmud showing how important
reproduction is.  As a simple example Is 38 is interpreted as follows:
Isiah told Chizkiyahu that he is losing his share in the next world because
he refused to marry (Chizkiyahu prophetically knew that his son would be the
evil Menasheh who 'filled Jerusalem with blood' and nevertheless he was
seriously threatened).

I hope this brief introduction helps.

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA
Moderator Rashi is Simple; http://www.shamash.org/rashi/