Halacha for Monday 13 Tevet 5781 December 28 2020

Inducing Labor

Question: If a woman is already full-term and the doctor suggests injecting her with Pitocin in order to induce labor, would this pose any halachic issue?

Answer: This question was actually posed to Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (in his Reponsa Igrot Moshe, Yoreh De’ah, Volume 2, Chapter 74) and he rules that it is forbidden to inject medication into the mother in order to induce labor, for the following reason:

It is well-known that one may not place one’s self into a dangerous situation, such as walking on very weak bridge from which one can fall off. Similarly, childbirth is also considered a precarious situation and nonetheless, Hashem has commanded us to be fruitful and multiply. The verse states, “He has not created it to be void, He has created it to be inhabited,” for Hashem wishes us to procreate and inhabit the world. Thus, if the time for natural birth arrives and the woman does not do anything actively to put herself in harm’s way, there is certainly no prohibition here and on the contrary, she is fulfilling the will and blessing of Hashem by giving birth to children. However, when external actions are taken in order to hasten the time for childbirth, the woman will actively be placing herself in harm’s way and thus, Hashem’s blessing that protects a woman during childbirth will not be applicable here and this will certainly be forbidden.

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l (in his Taharat Ha’Bayit, Volume 2, page 54) quotes the opinion of Hagaon Harav Feinstein and after probing it somewhat, he adds the words of the Sefer Ha’Kaneh who writes that if one gives an amulet containing holy names to a pregnant woman in order to hasten her delivery, sometimes this can lead to killing two lives and sometimes, this act can cause irreparable damage to the newborn, for it is entirely possible that the child should have been born during a certain constellation and as a result of the amulet, he will be born earlier and possibly live a much shorter life. Hashem shall seek out vengeance from the person who provided the amulet for killing the child by having it be born before its proper time and changing the natural course of events.

Furthermore, the great Rabbeinu Ha’Ari z”l writes in the Gate of Ruach Ha’Kodesh that one who gives an amulet to a woman to hasten her birth causes the child to be born prematurely and this in turn causes the child to die earlier than he should have or to live a life of poverty and suffering. Maran zt”l writes that this prohibition certainly applies to a doctor who injects the pregnant woman with medication in order to induce labor, for he is taking action to cause the woman to give birth earlier.

We must nevertheless point out that there are many times where the doctor wishes to induce labor because of a low water level, the woman’s weakness, or some other possibility of danger or distress to the baby which modern medicine dictates are all sufficient reasons to induce (as opposed to reasons of convenience or other nonsensical things). In these cases, one should certainly follow the guidance of the doctor and allow inducing labor, for this will be considered the appropriate time for giving birth. One should follow the guidance of doctors on almost anything having to do with the understanding of medicine, especially if this borders on a situation of possible danger.

Summary: Inducing labor for convenience or any other nonsensical reason is incorrect according to Halacha. However, when there is pressing medical need to do so, one should listen to the advice of the doctors.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Washing One’s Hands in the Morning

When one awakens in the morning from one’s sleep, one must wash one’s hands and recite the blessing, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Al Netilat Yadayim” (this law is discussed in Berachot 60b). The order of this washing i......

Read Halacha

The Torah is in the Hands of the Jewish Nation

Our Sages teach us in the Gemara (Berachot 5a) that Hashem does not conduct himself like human beings, for when a human being sells an object to another, the seller is upset about the loss of the object he was forced to sell and the buyer is happy about the acquisition of his new purchase. On the ot......

Read Halacha

Question: If one wakes up in the middle of the night and would like to drink a glass of water, must one first wash one’s hands before reciting the blessing on the water?

Answer: In the previous Halacha we have discussed the general obligation of washing one’s hands (Netilat Yadayim) and we briefly discussed the reasons for this Mitzvah. Two of these reasons are: Firstly, the reason quoted by the holy Zohar which states that when one goes to sleep, one’s ......

Read Halacha

The Customary Order of the Night of Shavuot

The Source for the Order of the Night of Shavuot The widespread custom among the entire Jewish nation is to stay awake the entire night of Shavuot and immerse one’s self in Torah study until dawn. Indeed, the holy Zohar states: “The earlier righteous individuals would not sleep on this ......

Read Halacha


Blessings of Enjoyment and Keri’at Shema on the Night of Shavuot

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed the order of learning for the night of Shavuot during which it is customary to remain awake all night and study Torah. Reading the Order of the “Keri’eh Mo’ed” Let us first discuss that which we have mentioned that it is proper t......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Counting the Omer

The Torah states (Vayikra 21, 15): “And you shall count for yourselves, from the day following the Shabbat, from the day the waved Omer offering is brought, seven complete weeks shall they be.” Our Sages (Menachot 65b) have a tradition that the “day following the Shabbat” ref......

Read Halacha

Praying Repeatedly-A Spark of Ruach Ha’Kodesh

Question: Is it correct for one to plead and beseech Hashem for the same thing every single day or is it more proper to pray for a certain matter only several times and if one sees that one has not been answered, one should cease praying for that specific matter? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 32b)......

Read Halacha

Donating Tzedakah (Charity) in Order for One’s Son to Recover From an Illness

Question: Is it permissible to donate a sum of money to charity in the merit of which someone should become healed or for any other personal request or is it improper to do this since the Mitzvah is not being performed for the sake of Heaven, rather, for one’s personal purposes? Answer: The......

Read Halacha