The Rabbis

Zohar, Shemot 3b "For There are three [persons] who drive away God's presence from the world, making it impossible for the Holy One, Blessed be He, to fix His abode in the universe and causing prayer to be unanswered.....[The third is] he who causes the fetus to be 

Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik

Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik

After New York State Legalized Abortion 

"Sometimes we must protest under sacred and noble causes. It bleeds my heart that none of the Jewish organizations in New York protested......We are more guilty than any other people; we are more ashamed than any other generation." 

Read Rabbi Soloveichik's complete statement.

“The Torah is compared to the sneh, the Burning Bush, because “fire gives heat, light and devours fuel, but the light of Torah must only give warmth and light, love and hope; it must never be used to destroy or kill. 

This is not Torah; it is a perversion of Torah.” 

Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l

Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik

“I consider the society of today as insane…I read from the press that in Eretz Yisrael they permit abortions now! Sapir comes to the US and asks that 60,000 boys and girls should leave the US and settle in Eretz Yisrael. When a child is born, it’s also immigration to Eretz Yisrael, and yet you murder the children.”

Rav Soloveitchik then predicted:

“And if you kill the fetus, a time will come when even infants will be killed…The mother will get frightened after the baby will be born…and the doctor will say her life depends upon the murder of the baby. And you have a word, mental hygiene, whatever you want you can subsume under mental hygiene…And there is now a tendency for rabbis in the US to march along with society, otherwise they’ll be looked upon as reactionaries.” Read

Rabbi J. David Bleich

Rabbi J. David Bleich

Contemporary Halakhic Problems, Vol.1

"A Jew is governed by such reverence for life that he trembles lest he tamper unmindfully with the greatest of all divine gifts, the bestowal or withholding of which is the prerogative of God alone. Although he be master over all within the world, there remain areas where man must fear to tread, acknowledging the limits of his sovereignty and the limitations of his understanding. In the unborn child lies the mystery and enigma of existence. Confronted by the miracle of life itself, man can only draw back in silence before the wonder of the Lord."

Rabbi David Novak

Rabbi David Novak

The Sanctity of Human Life. P 68

At this point I would ask my fellow Jewish ethicists, especially the traditionalists ones: Does our reverence for human life, even the miniscule human life of the newly conceived embryo, with what the tradition calls human dignity ( kvod ha-beriyot )?  Surely we are not obligated  or even permitted to kill a human life, however prehuman it looks, for the sake of someone else’s therapeutic needs - that is for the sake of somebody to whose life the embryo is not a direct threat.  We certainly are not obligated or even permitted to kill an embryo for the more indirect benefit of the advancement of possible helpful scientific information.  I believe that we are neither obligated nor permitted to do so.  I believe that we are prohibited from doing so.  We can discover that prohibition ( issur )  philosophy and thus argue it to anyone, anywhere, at any time.  The argument need not be confined to persons who are required to live according to our own moral theology, although our moral theology certainly can confirm it.

That position is fully consistent with Maimonides’ emphasis on how important advances in scientific knowledge are for our moral deliberations about universal human phenomena.  Thus, the discovery of DNA and when it first emerges in a human being should change our thinking about the beginning of human life in the same way that the discovery that babies born in the eight month of pregnancy are viable ( ben qayyama ) changed our thinking about early infant life, even though in the days of the Talmud people believed that they were not viable. Jews are bound by halakhic norms.  With regard to questions of human life and death, however, they are not bound to some of their applications that are based on what we now know to have been inaccurate, outdated science.  The science of the Talmud has been superseded by more current science, which itself might be superseded in the future.

Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 

Former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain

To be a Jew is to be willing to challenge the prevailing consensus. Power allows us to rule over others without their consent. As the Greek historian Thucydides put it: "The strong do what they wish and the weak suffer what they must." Judaism is a sustained critique of power. That is the conclusion I have reached after a lifetime of studying our sacred texts. It is about how a nation can be formed on the basis of shared commitment and collective responsibility. It is about how to construct a society that honors the human person as the image and likeness of God. It is about a vision, never fully realized but never abandoned, of a world based on justice and compassion, in which "They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord  as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9)

Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (also known as Maimonides or Rambam)


Guide for the Perplexed 1:31

"Men like the opinions to which they have been accustomed from their youth; 

they defend them, and shun contrary views: and this is one of the things that prevents men from finding truth, for they cling to the opinions of habit."

Maimonides, Mishneh Torah 

The definition of murder according to the Noahide Laws includes a person who kills "even one unborn in the womb of its mother," and adds that such a person is liable for the death penalty. 

The Pele Yo'es (Rabbi Eliezer Papo)

The Pele Yo'es (Rabbi Eliezer Papo)

Advice to someone who wishes his sons to become Talmidei Hakhamim (Torah Scholars). "You should not wait till they are born and start growing up. Rather, both father and mother should pray constantly to G-d for this, before the pregnancy, during the pregnancy and after the child is born. They should make donations to Talmidei Hakhamim and request them to pray for their children. During the pregnancy, the mother should make every effort to hear the study of Torah, and after the child is born, she should take him to places of Torah study." We learn this from the mother of Ribbi Yehoshua Ben Hananya, who during her pregnancy, would go from one Beth Midrash (study hall), to another, to hear words of Torah and ask the Hakhamim to pray that her son would be very wise. 

Rabbenu Bahya (Rabbenu Bahya ben Asher)

Rabbenu Bahya on the Torah, Parashath Tazria

There are three stages in a man's life: (a) in the womb, 

(b) in this world and (c) in the world to come.

When the child is in the mother's womb all his needs are met. If it were up to him, he would remain there forever. When he leaves the womb it is because he has no choice in the matter. In truth, whatever takes place in the womb is wondrous and beyond our comprehension, such as how the infant exists in that environment, and what it is that forces him, at the appropriate time, to emerge from there.

Just as the understanding of the workings of this phenomenon is hidden from us, so too the work of G-d, in general, is hidden from our comprehension and is wondrous. The fact that we cannot comprehend it should not prevent us, however, from appreciating and seeing the hand of G-d and the wonders of His creation, every day, as we go about our daily lives.

Talmud Sanhedrin 57b

Talmud Sanhedrin 57b: 

The killing of an embryo is also recognized as murder in the

"A heathen is executed..for the murder of an embryo..Because it is written, Whoso sheddeth the blood of man within [another] man, shall his blood be shed. What is a man within another man? An embryo in his mother's womb."