In-Vitro Fertilization and the Torah – Which Came First?

It’s interesting how some things “just seem” to fit very well with the Torah. Recently I was reading on something about in-Virto fertilization when I had an “ah ha” moment.

In-Vitro fertilization is a process where, in the case where a woman nebbich cannot get pregnant through natural means (for whatever the reason), the option of in-vitro fertilization is an attractive one. Through the means of a petri dish, a woman’s eggs (multiple) can be joined with a sperm sample, then re-inserted in order to produce babies. It is indeed a wonderful technology.

However, there are Halachic complications that arise. Many agree that as long as the sperm-egg sample comes from husband and wife, there’s no issue. However, what if the woman has no idea where the male sample came from? If she’s married, is the child considered a Mamzer (bastard) or not? Or, how “kosher” is it if the woman chooses to remain a single mother?

We will leave those questions aside. However, in terms of ones religion, Orthodox Judaism mandates that religion goes based on the mother. This ruling has a profound impact in so many ways, aside from the fact that even today, the mother traditionally raises the children while the father goes to work. While there are households where the roles are reversed, the reality is that even in today’s pluralistic society, it’s not as common.

Focusing on in-vitro fertilization, no matter the status of the child (Mamzer or not) the fact remains that a child born through such a means via a Jewish mother is 100% Jewish – not half, quarter, or donation-pending. This is important because it further emphasizes the timelessness of the Torah and Rabbinic laws.

Think about it. If someone came across both the knowledge of in-vitro fertilization and the Torah’s take on ones religion, and not knowing the historical age of the Torah, that person might think that the Torah was created later on, in order to cater to in-vitro fertilization rather than the other way around!