Delaying Childbirth And Halacha


 Regarding last week’s article “Birth Control, Jewish Law Collide At Stern”: I too attended Rabbi Moshe Kahn’s recent shiur on the halachic parameters of delaying procreation at Stern College for Women. Rav Kahn’s view on temporarily delaying procreation has a strong halachic basis, and is founded on the rulings of the Rivash and the Rema, among other rishonim (rabbinic commentaries).

Nowhere in his lecture did Rav Kahn mention feminism or promote the idea that being on the pill was liberating for women. In fact, he explicitly stated that the halachic choice to permit birth control was intended to benefit both men and women, and that the decision should be made by couples interested in temporarily delaying having children due to financial, emotional and other serious concerns. This point was lost in Ms. Dreyfus’ article.

While the article indicated that R. Kahn’s approach was “a tough pill to swallow,” the students present greatly enjoyed the shiur and felt that Rav Kahn validated many of their feelings on this topic.

Far from being a taboo topic at Stern, rabbis and professors throughout the years have presented students with varying perspectives on this issue, whether in halacha shiurim or in biology courses. The purpose of Rav Kahn’s shiur was to explain one of these perspectives. 

I strongly urge readers to read Rav Kahn’s article (available online) and to also listen to the shiur he gave at Stern College on this issue (available on

Senior, Stern College for Women

Note: The article never stated that Rabbi Kahn mentioned feminism in his talk. It noted that the topic came up in a question-and-answer period after his talk. The article never stated the topic was “taboo,” but only that this was the first public presentation on the topic since 2006.