Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin
Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin Courtesy

The shock waves from the recent US Supreme Court's overturning Roe v. Wade, ruling that American women do not have an automatic "constitutional" right to having abortions, but that individual states can decide their policy on the issue, is continuing to drive the Left crazy with frenzy. Thanks to the ruling of the current conservative majority of the court, simple morality rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition and the Hebrew Bible (Torah) has been strengthened, as I noted in my recent article on Arutz Sheva "America's Six (Conservative) Guardian Angels". Of course on the surface it is a grand judicial debate about federral vs.states' rights couched in legalese, but on a much deeper level it is about morality and doing the good and right thing versus immorality.

As Arutz Sheva, reported both American and Israel Haredim are generally anti-abortion on demand: "Haredim in Israel only sector not backing a 'right to abortion'" and "Why an Orthodox Jewish Organization (Agudath Israel of America) welcomed the end of Roe v. Wade". Religious Zionists, except for a super-liberal sector, are as well. Why is it that observant Jews have those views? There would seem to be a direct correlation between their strict adherence to and practice of Halakha (Jewish Law) with intense devotion to the practice of the Mitzvot (the Torah's Commandments) and doing the Will of Hashem (God) that drives them to naturally and organically understand that abortion on demand is wrong. Only great Poskim, Torah scholars who are experts in deciding how to understand and apply Jewish Law in consultation with expert medical opinion, taking into account the health, life and well being of pregnant women, have the final say in Judaism as to if and when an abortion is to be allowed.

This idea is so alien to modern secularized people who cannot fathom how it can be that a woman does not have the automatic constitutional and human right to terminate her own pregnancy. A perusal of the opinions of liberal-minded Jewish writers makes this very clear. Lisa Fishbayn Joffe asks: "Do abortion bans violate Jews' religious rights?" and cites the views of the different denominations. Since most Jews are not Orthodox, the official Reform view is prevalent, namely "that pregnant individuals should have complete responsibility and autonomy over whether to terminate a pregnancy - whether or not that individual's life is at risk." Pretty much summing up the standard secular left wing point of view as well.

While an article in "My Jewish Learning" makes clear that: "Various non-religious Jewish groups have also been active in abortion access, including Jewish Women International, Hadassah and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League have both joined amicus briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of abortion access....Orthodox organizations in contrast, do not support broad legal protections for abortion."

So one can clearly see how the cookie crumbles on the abortion issue and it becomes predictable that the Left-wing has a knee jerk reaction when they hear the word abortion, they just want to have it available and let women avail themselves of it as easily and freely as they desire.

Writing for the Touro Law Review, Dr. Adena Berkowitz's article entitled "My Body, My Choice: Biblical, Rabbinic and Contemporary Halakhic Responses to Abortion" describes and explains the various schools of thought in Jewish Law surrounding the issue of abortion. She does make the concluding point that the woman's life muist be taken into account and that the debate is not just about protecting the rights of the fetus. To which one many say that that is precisely why a competent Posek, an expert in Jewish Law needs to be consulted to decide the quandary between "six of one and half a dozen of the other", of fetal rights versus female rights!

As for the sources and origins of the prohibitions against abortion on demand in general in Torah Judaism, both Chabad.org and Aish.com, which explain things to laymen on the internet, have two good concise articles explaining the issue of abortion and observant Judaism in layman's terms.

In Judaism and Abortion on Chabad.org the article says that:

* "The first reference to abortion is in Genesis, when Noah and his descendants are forbidden to murder: 'One who sheds the blood of man through man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God He made man.' (Genesis 9:6)

* The sages of the Talmud point out that the phrase 'one who sheds the blood of man through man' is more accurately translated as 'one who sheds the blood of man within man.'

* Based on this, Rabbi Ishmael [a great Jewish scholar in the Talmud] learns that under ordinary circumstances the killing of a fetus is considered a capital offense for all descendants of Noah, i.e., humankind.

* Read in isolation, one could conclude that abortion is akin to murder. But things are not so simple.

* Here is what we read in Exodus: 'Should men quarrel and hit a pregnant woman, and she miscarried but there is no fatality...he shall give restitution according to the judges.' (Exodus 21:22).

* Since the Torah obligates only a monetary compensation but no capital punishment, the Torah seemingly views the fetus as property, not as a human life.

* There are various ways of reconciling these verses.

*All agree, however, that under ordinary circumstances abortion is prohibited."

The Chabad article on abortion concludes: "The Jewish Approach to Abortion in Short:

* Under normal circumstances it is forbidden to take the life of an unborn child, and it may be akin to murder (depending on the stage of pregnancy and birth).

* As long as the unborn remains a fetus, it does not have a status of personhood equal to its mother, and therefore may be sacrficed to save the life oif the mother.

* In any case where abortion may be necessary, it is of paramount importance to consult halakhic and medical experts as soon as possible."

The article in Aish.com dealing with Abortion in Jewish Law explains that:

* "To gain a clear understanding of when abortion is permitted (or even required) and when it is forbidden requires an appreciation of certain nuances of halakha (Jewish Law) which govern the status of the fetus.

* While there is debate among the Rabbis whether abortion is a Biblical or Rabbinical prohibition, all agree on the fundamental concept that fundamentally, abortion is only permitted to protect the life of the mother or in other extraordinary situations.

* Jewish law does not sanction abortion on demand without a pressing reason.

* The easiest way to conceptualize a fetus in Jewish law is to imagine it as a full-fledged human being – but not quite. (Citing Rav Moshe Feinstein, 1895-1986).

* In most circumstances, the fetus is treated like any other 'person.'

* Generally, one may not deliberately harm a fetus....That is not to say that all rabbinical authorities consider abortion to be murder.

* The fact that the Torah requires a monetary payment for causing a miscarriage is interpreted by some rabbinical scholars to indicate that abortion is not a capital crime and by others as merely indicating that one is not executed for performing an abortion, even though it is a type of murder.

* There is even disagreement regarding whether the prohibition of abortion is Biblical or Rabbinic.

* Nevertheless, it is universally agreed that the fetus will become a full-fledged human being and there must be a very compelling reason to allow for abortion."

One is skating on very thin ice when it comes to nuancing the status of abortion as a subject in the broader domain that deals with the subject of killing. Not all killing is murder, but they both have death in common. Who shall live and who shall die is a decision for God to make, or for a designated legally sanctioned court. And that is where the Seven Noahide Laws that apply to all humankind equally come in (from Wikipedia):

Not to worship idols. Not to curse God. Not to commit murder. Not to commit adultery or sexual immorality. Not to steal. Not to eat flesh torn from a living animal. To establish courts of justice

We see that the subject of establishing courts of law and not to commit murder apply to the subject of taking the life of the born and the unborn to a large degree. While Jews have a sophisticated legal system and jurisprudence that helps them navigate the complex and often paradoxical and contradictory issues of life, and of death, gentiles too are obligated to have a system of justice and a reliable judiciary and not be ruled by the wild mobs or the swayed by the fads of the hour, and that is what the legal system in the United States delivers as it fulfills the Torah's Noahide requirement to have courts of law. As such they are duly empowered to issue legal rulings and opinions, hopefully in the right way and in the right spirit of the law that should ideally be rooted in the American Constitution which in turn was rooted in the values and ethics of the so-called Old Testament (the TANACH) by the Founding Fathers of America. They were definitely not WOKE, they were not Marxists, they were not anarchists!

The issue of abortion touches on the subject of classical morality rooted in the Judeo-Christian heritage and the Bible specifically, as much as the moderns don't like hearing this! With all the talk of abortion rights for women, hardly anyone mentions that a lot of pregnancies especially among unmarried teens and unmarried women result from sexual promiscuity. Talking about abortion rights only is holding only one end of the stick, the end of it, the beginning part of it should start with moral education, teaching healthy values that do not glorify sex for kids and for people as if it were free ice cream handed out for fun. Sex is a serious matter and according to Judaism, and Christianity, as well as Islam and most religions, sex should take place within the bounds and bonds of marriage and not as a subject for Hollywood or Bollywood to to help sell movies or tricks on Facebook, TikTok or SnapChat.

The modern sexual revolution that took hold in the 1960s is the real source of the problem. It is sexual freedom to do as you please that causes the "unwanted" pregnancies that are the root cause of the desire for abortions. Yes, there are married women who want and get abortions, but the drive to legalize the abortion revolution comes from the unbridled sexual immorality that reigns supreme in Western society.

No doubt that the conservative majority on the US Supreme Court understands both the surface superficial debates as well as the underlying deeper moral and even spiritual tug of war between right and wrong, justice and injustice, morality and immorality, and is in its own judicial way trying to do its share to save the endangered world from itself!

Rabbi Yitschak Rudominis the author of "The Second World and Jewish Education in America: The Fall and Rise of Orthodoxy".Contact him at izakrudomin@gmail.com