Herein, you will find a concise and condensed answer to 99% of the questions posed by last week’s column. It was sent to me by my rav/posek with the post script that anyone entertaining the thought of procreating singularly by artificial means should engage the paskanus of their own trusted rav or posek for any inyan that requires halachic clarity.
My rav endorses the following article, titled “May A Single Man Fulfill The Mitzvah Of Pru U’rvu? (procreation)” and authored by Rabbanit Dr. Michal Tikochinsky (which, he said, eloquently expresses his views as well as he could have). Although its being a most informative compilation on this subject wherein the author backs up each finding by quoting the most credible and respected gedolim past and present, it still behooves one to do their own hishtadlus and check with the rav he/she depends upon to guide them. I have taken the liberty to print parts of this tutorial addressing the parts that last week’s column asked. Since many of the terms and language may not be appropriate (although they are acceptable scientific terms that are necessary in describing what the author is answering to, I chose to substitute in my excerpt of the article the word ‘seed’ when speaking of the male participant and ‘ova’ when referring to the female. However, I will give you an overview of what it answers as follows:
Until the last generation, marriage and reproduction always went together. The only legitimate way of producing children was in the framework of marriage since non-marital, sexual relationships are halachically forbidden or, minimally, strongly discouraged.(1) In our generation, technologies have evolved that enable reproduction outside the context of marriage that do not cross these lines. Consequently, the question arises – is a single man, who does not believe that he will find a marriage partner or there are impediments to his ability to marry,(2) an obligation to fulfill the mitzvah of procreation using existing technologies? Does he fulfill his obligation of pru u’rvu when procreation occurs outside of marriage through artificial means?
Practically, there are a number of ways this can be done. Some involve an active paternal role and some procreation without any acknowledgement of paternity:
- Anonymous seed donation: The seed is donated to a woman requiring it to have a child. Generally, the father does not know the identity of the child. It is also possible that the seed will be given to a non-Jewish woman and the child will not be Jewish.(3)
- Surrogacy: There are two possible options here. One, in which the surrogate mother contributes the ova and carries the child and at birth the baby is given over to the father. This “traditional” type of surrogacy is illegal in Israel. The second type is when one woman contributes the ova and the surrogate mother is simply the carrier during the pregnancy and retains no relationship with the child. This is legal in Israel with certain limitations.
- An agreement with a woman to parent jointly. This may or may not involve responsibility to support the child financially.
The three arrangements reflect three models of fatherhood (respectively). The first is minimal, where the father contributes seed but does not know either the mother or the child. The second is full, the biological father raises and supports the child and the third is partial, wherein parenting is shared at various levels as per the particular agreement between the mother and the father.
The question of whether one fulfills his obligation of pru u’rvu with a child conceived by artificial insemination is not at all simple.”
I will end this column where it began and, again, reiterate that those singles entertaining bringing a child into the world, take a step back and along with doing your halachic research with a rav who is a ‘mumcha’ (expert) in this area, keep in mind that this life you created to fill your need may one day hold you fully accountable over his/her displeasure at having been born in such a fashion. Life is difficult enough without looking for more to add to it.
Whatever help you gleaned from the information provided here, along with that which you find on your own. I wish you well and hope that you find peace of mind and spirit.