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Jerusalem - Rav Shternbuch Issues New Psak Concerning IVF Bris Milah On Shabbos

Published on: December 22, 2009 05:02 PM
Last updated on: December 22, 2009 06:01 PM
By: VIN News By Rabbi Yair Hoffman
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Jerusalem - A new Psak was issued by Rav Moshe Shternbuch last week concerning the performance of a Bris Milah ceremony on Shabbos for a baby that was conceived through donor IVF. Rav Shternbuch is against utilizing an egg from a gentile donor. Nonetheless, he is of the opinion that the halachic status of the child is that of a sofaik – a
doubt.
Some Poskim hold that we follow the birthing mother in such a case. Others are unsure.  Rav Shternbuch is of the opinion that the question has not been resolved and thus ruled that it is a safek.
This being the case, a bris Milah may not be performed on Shabbos for such a case, and the child will need giur misafaik. The Bris would have to be performed at the next available opportunity on Sunday morning.  Rav Shternbuch’s ruling was confirmed today by this author.
The ruling does not affect IVF where both genetic material came from the halachic parents.

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The author can be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com



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1

 Dec 22, 2009 at 05:10 PM 5T Resident Says:

I wonder about this. What would the halacha be for a baby conceived via IVF if the egg and sperm came from a married couple? If that couple couldn't conceive the "normal" way but could via IVF, are there any halachic restrictions on their IVF baby?

2

 Dec 22, 2009 at 05:14 PM Anonymous Says:

According to most poskim, the mother (and Jewishness) of the child is determined at birth and not who the originator of the egg is.

3

 Dec 22, 2009 at 05:16 PM gevaldig Says:

The Baby will be a sofek Mamzer!

4

 Dec 22, 2009 at 05:15 PM info Says:

Not all ivf treatment involve donated eggs, there are many different factors and reasons causing infertility, every couple and person is different, so too generalize any baby born through ivf treatment etc. is misleading and doesn't make any sense. If you started the article with, 'Any baby born through ivf using donated eggs (from a gentile?) etc....' would make a little more sense

5

 Dec 22, 2009 at 05:19 PM Anonymous Says:

If he considers the child a sofek non jew because the mother is the egg donor a giyur/ conversion is a remedy for a yisroel. However if the father is a kohen what is the status of the child and his straight line male descendants?

6

 Dec 22, 2009 at 05:20 PM jewish Says:

this psak is not about IVF its only talking about ivf where a donor was used and the donor wasnt Jewish. the article is extremley misleading!!! a reg IVF where botht he sperma nd the egg came from the jewish parents this psak wouldnt apply!

7

 Dec 22, 2009 at 05:24 PM Ahem Says:

Reply to #4  
info Says:

Not all ivf treatment involve donated eggs, there are many different factors and reasons causing infertility, every couple and person is different, so too generalize any baby born through ivf treatment etc. is misleading and doesn't make any sense. If you started the article with, 'Any baby born through ivf using donated eggs (from a gentile?) etc....' would make a little more sense

Not all? Almost none of the Jewish orthodox IVF's involve donors. It is misleading to write the above.

8

 Dec 22, 2009 at 05:25 PM Ahem Says:

Reply to #5  
Anonymous Says:

If he considers the child a sofek non jew because the mother is the egg donor a giyur/ conversion is a remedy for a yisroel. However if the father is a kohen what is the status of the child and his straight line male descendants?

Very interesting question.

9

 Dec 22, 2009 at 05:28 PM Anonymous Says:

Could someone please advise whether this article is misleading. Thanks.

10

 Dec 22, 2009 at 05:43 PM Angry Ivf patien Says:

Reply to #4  
info Says:

Not all ivf treatment involve donated eggs, there are many different factors and reasons causing infertility, every couple and person is different, so too generalize any baby born through ivf treatment etc. is misleading and doesn't make any sense. If you started the article with, 'Any baby born through ivf using donated eggs (from a gentile?) etc....' would make a little more sense

I agree with this poster, and I think there is an achrayus on VIN to correct the heading. Stupid articles like these and others cast doubt on our dear kosher children........ there are too many ignorant readers on the www who jump to conclusions and spread rumors....... it should be VERY VERY clear that this is only shayic to donor eggs (which most communities dissaprove of anyway)

11

 Dec 22, 2009 at 06:04 PM Aryeh Says:

Contrast Ishmael and Yitzchak with Eisav and Yaakov in terms of birth mothers for the answer to why this psak was made.

12

 Dec 22, 2009 at 06:22 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

According to most poskim, the mother (and Jewishness) of the child is determined at birth and not who the originator of the egg is.

Please quote sources. Without a source your statement is worthless.

13

 Dec 22, 2009 at 06:56 PM fav anony Says:

Reply to #11  
Aryeh Says:

Contrast Ishmael and Yitzchak with Eisav and Yaakov in terms of birth mothers for the answer to why this psak was made.

it doesnt apply because the egg mother is still the genetic parent - you posters sound ridiculous and clueless and yes it was very misleading as donors are very rare in orthodox births.

14

 Dec 22, 2009 at 07:25 PM Anonymous Says:

As long as you're not ridiculous or clueless, #13, we're honored to have you aboard. Please guide us, oh wise one.

15

 Dec 22, 2009 at 07:27 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
gevaldig Says:

The Baby will be a sofek Mamzer!

You must have fifteen children. But did you ever wonder what it would be not to have even one?
You are the mamzer with your higher than though attitude.

16

 Dec 22, 2009 at 07:45 PM Really? Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

According to most poskim, the mother (and Jewishness) of the child is determined at birth and not who the originator of the egg is.

You have got to be kidding me. Which poskim?
Look in the Tzitz Eliezer, where he discusses this at length along with other problems caused by IVF.
I am no posek and therefore do not offer any psak halachah, just giving a source. Before you decide to make such an assumption do your research...

17

 Dec 22, 2009 at 08:01 PM Anonymous Says:

The Tzitz Eliezer is a minority opinion concerning IVF so I wouldn't use his sefer as any psak, since almost all the rabbonim (from Litvish to Chassidish) do not rule like him.
This was issued in Israel, where there are many Jews that aren't orthodox, and I assume that if they can't have a child with their own genetic material, they may choose donor eggs or donor sperm from a gentile. They use a gentile because then there is no issue of mamzerut. There are also some orthodox rabbis that allow this, especially donor sperm from a gentile, see the Igros Moshe for his psak vis a vis using donor sperm for artificial insemination. Whether or not orthodox are using it, Jews are and therefore a psak about when to perform the bris and if you should convert the child is in order.

18

 Dec 22, 2009 at 08:32 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
jewish Says:

this psak is not about IVF its only talking about ivf where a donor was used and the donor wasnt Jewish. the article is extremley misleading!!! a reg IVF where botht he sperma nd the egg came from the jewish parents this psak wouldnt apply!

not only misleading but grossly insensitive

19

 Dec 22, 2009 at 08:37 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
gevaldig Says:

The Baby will be a sofek Mamzer!

Don't be so quick to make such a horrible verdict

20

 Dec 22, 2009 at 08:39 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
Ahem Says:

Very interesting question.

Actually, it is only a question if the father is 100% certain he is a kohen. Most kohanim are safek kohein. If the father has been genetically tested abd proven to be of the genetic lineage of the kehuna then indeed it is an interesting question.

21

 Dec 22, 2009 at 08:54 PM Anonymous Says:

Child can't be a mamzer, because a mamzer is the child of a conception for which the parents are subject to Korais or Death by Bais Din. Or the descendant of a mamzer or mazeres.

IVF is not subject to Korais or Death by Bais Din and we assume the Donor to be a gentile either because of Roiv or because the parents are advised to seek out a known gentile egg Donor.

23

 Dec 22, 2009 at 09:48 PM Anonymous Says:

22

It does matter because mila can't push off shabbos if there is no legitimate reason. If the child isnt jewish then the mohel cant cut the skin and draw bood on shabbos.

24

 Dec 22, 2009 at 10:32 PM Anonymous Says:

#22 - Where are you coming from? This is a velt shailah on hilchos Shabbos. If the bris is done during the wrong time it is chillul Shabbos! Rav Shternbuch is a choshuva posaik - a world class one. Please be respectful.

25

 Dec 22, 2009 at 10:43 PM Anonymous Says:

It is chillul Shabbos to do mila not on its correct day or on a sofeik Jew or sofeik date.

26

 Dec 22, 2009 at 11:39 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

Please quote sources. Without a source your statement is worthless.

See some here, in particular the opinion of Rabbi J. David Bleich towards the end of the article:

http://www.mssm.edu/msjournal/68/PAGES219_223_v68_3.PDF

27

 Dec 22, 2009 at 11:47 PM Charlie Hall Says:

Reply to #17  
Anonymous Says:

The Tzitz Eliezer is a minority opinion concerning IVF so I wouldn't use his sefer as any psak, since almost all the rabbonim (from Litvish to Chassidish) do not rule like him.
This was issued in Israel, where there are many Jews that aren't orthodox, and I assume that if they can't have a child with their own genetic material, they may choose donor eggs or donor sperm from a gentile. They use a gentile because then there is no issue of mamzerut. There are also some orthodox rabbis that allow this, especially donor sperm from a gentile, see the Igros Moshe for his psak vis a vis using donor sperm for artificial insemination. Whether or not orthodox are using it, Jews are and therefore a psak about when to perform the bris and if you should convert the child is in order.

The Tzitz Eliezer was one of those rare gedolim who was of such great stature that his opinion became the accepted halachah lemaaseh in many instances even when he was a daat yachid. And in fact the entire medical establishment in Israel along with most dati and sefardi rabbis follow him. (In the US, most follow Rav Moshe, who was also of such stature, and often disagreed with the Tzitz Eliezer.)

28

 Dec 22, 2009 at 11:25 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #20  
Anonymous Says:

Actually, it is only a question if the father is 100% certain he is a kohen. Most kohanim are safek kohein. If the father has been genetically tested abd proven to be of the genetic lineage of the kehuna then indeed it is an interesting question.

Kehuna is heredity by mesorah NOT gentic testing!

30

 Dec 23, 2009 at 02:50 AM Anonymous Says:

The Lubavitcher Rebbe did not condone any IVF unless it was done under a valid supervision like Shaarei Tzedek hospital for reasons such as the jewish donors sperm may get mixed up etc

31

 Dec 23, 2009 at 03:08 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
5T Resident Says:

I wonder about this. What would the halacha be for a baby conceived via IVF if the egg and sperm came from a married couple? If that couple couldn't conceive the "normal" way but could via IVF, are there any halachic restrictions on their IVF baby?

Please read the last sentence. "The ruling does not affect IVF where both genetic material came from the halachic parents."

32

 Dec 23, 2009 at 03:51 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
5T Resident Says:

I wonder about this. What would the halacha be for a baby conceived via IVF if the egg and sperm came from a married couple? If that couple couldn't conceive the "normal" way but could via IVF, are there any halachic restrictions on their IVF baby?

absolutely not

33

 Dec 23, 2009 at 03:53 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #24  
Anonymous Says:

#22 - Where are you coming from? This is a velt shailah on hilchos Shabbos. If the bris is done during the wrong time it is chillul Shabbos! Rav Shternbuch is a choshuva posaik - a world class one. Please be respectful.

And the bracha that the mohel says is not a bracha levatala?

34

 Dec 23, 2009 at 06:36 AM Halachah Says:

Reply to #3  
gevaldig Says:

The Baby will be a sofek Mamzer!

Once again the ignorant rear their heads on VIN.

Because there is no yechus to a goy (Read about Amnon and Tamar in detail, including the Oruch Li'ner in Sanhedrin) A goy does not father a mamzer, although the child has certain pisulim. Even if he was a "sofek mamzer", a sofek mamzer may marry into klal yisroel, a vadai mamzer may not. If you hold like Reb Moshe on donated sperm, a donated egg should not be any different.

35

 Dec 23, 2009 at 06:42 AM halachah Says:

Yet another genius that does not realize:

1) Only Milah on the eighth day for a Jew is Docheh Shabbos. For example, If achild is born "bain hashmoshes" Friday eve. Perhaps the baby was born on Shabbos and Friday is too early, the bris will be invalid. Perhaps the baby was born on Friday, Shabbos will not be "bizmano" so it isn't docheh Shabbos, the Bris is Sunday.
2) A Bris is only done during the daytime. There are no Motzai Shabbos Brissim.

36

 Dec 23, 2009 at 10:51 AM Anonymous Says:

I suspect Rabbi Hoffman only assumed that the status of the child is the issue Rav Shterbuch has about the Bris on Shabbos. I think he ought to discuss it directly with Rav Shternbuch. There is an issue in general with Milah Bizmano pertaining to unnatural conception if it can be done on Shabbos of which there are varied opinions based on a discussion in the Rishonim. As this is really a modern day question, it is first being grappled with of recent

37

 Dec 23, 2009 at 11:06 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #30  
Anonymous Says:

The Lubavitcher Rebbe did not condone any IVF unless it was done under a valid supervision like Shaarei Tzedek hospital for reasons such as the jewish donors sperm may get mixed up etc

CORRECTION: Let me reiterate more correctly. The Lubavitcher Rebbe was not in favor at all of IVF unless the parents themselves undergoing this procedure were doing it under a serious charedishe supervision like Shaarei Tzedek hospital because of the ch'shash of the FATHER'S sperm getting mixed up (ukvar haya l'olamim). The word sperm 'Donor' (indicating a different father) is completely out of the question from the Rebbe's view as far as I understood it.

38

 Dec 23, 2009 at 11:37 AM Aryeh Says:

Reply to #17  
Anonymous Says:

The Tzitz Eliezer is a minority opinion concerning IVF so I wouldn't use his sefer as any psak, since almost all the rabbonim (from Litvish to Chassidish) do not rule like him.
This was issued in Israel, where there are many Jews that aren't orthodox, and I assume that if they can't have a child with their own genetic material, they may choose donor eggs or donor sperm from a gentile. They use a gentile because then there is no issue of mamzerut. There are also some orthodox rabbis that allow this, especially donor sperm from a gentile, see the Igros Moshe for his psak vis a vis using donor sperm for artificial insemination. Whether or not orthodox are using it, Jews are and therefore a psak about when to perform the bris and if you should convert the child is in order.

Mamzerut is NOT a valid concern with donors. There is a halachic concept of mamzer, aval eino safek mamzer.

39

 Dec 23, 2009 at 02:43 PM londoner Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

Please quote sources. Without a source your statement is worthless.

Sorry but he is right. The halachic jewishness of any child is its birth mother and is decided at birth. There is no way of being 100% certain about who is actually a child's father. All is based on the ne'emonus of the mother which is accepted in halochoh e.g. ben soirer umoireh, na'aroh hameurosoh and many others where the man who the mother claims is the father, and is not necessarily the mother's husband, says es bitti etc. (my daughter). Of course this is only valid when the man (father) agrees:-)

40

 Dec 23, 2009 at 02:44 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #34  
Halachah Says:

Once again the ignorant rear their heads on VIN.

Because there is no yechus to a goy (Read about Amnon and Tamar in detail, including the Oruch Li'ner in Sanhedrin) A goy does not father a mamzer, although the child has certain pisulim. Even if he was a "sofek mamzer", a sofek mamzer may marry into klal yisroel, a vadai mamzer may not. If you hold like Reb Moshe on donated sperm, a donated egg should not be any different.

And Rashi in Vayishlach!!!!!!!!!!!!

41

 Dec 23, 2009 at 02:49 PM formelly Says:

so would this pasak mean it is the DNA that defines a Jew

42

 Dec 24, 2009 at 04:29 AM me Says:

Reply to #37  
Anonymous Says:

CORRECTION: Let me reiterate more correctly. The Lubavitcher Rebbe was not in favor at all of IVF unless the parents themselves undergoing this procedure were doing it under a serious charedishe supervision like Shaarei Tzedek hospital because of the ch'shash of the FATHER'S sperm getting mixed up (ukvar haya l'olamim). The word sperm 'Donor' (indicating a different father) is completely out of the question from the Rebbe's view as far as I understood it.

While Reb Moshe held there was no problem of mamzerus, he did say that a goyishe donor should be used to avoid all questions then he said he didn't really endorse the procedure (a donor other then the father) for psychological reasons. The father knows this really isn't really his child, etc.

43

 Jan 22, 2010 at 04:28 AM YS Says:

If I read the article correctly, R' Shternbuch ruled that the child is a safek Jew and requires giyur l'chumra. This is a very different statement from a safek mamzer. In no way is this child a mamzer or even a safek of one.

While this status of a safek Jew is a challenge and requires some creativity regarding related halochos (as the Rav rules in the article), it is far better than safek mamzer. Why do I reiterate this? There is a debate as to if it is better to use donor genetic material (ova or sperm) from a Jew or a non-Jew. (Obviously it would be best to use the materiel from the parents but when you can't...)

If you use non-Jewish material, an ova give you a question of safek Jew, sperm gives you some kabbalistic questions. If you use Jewish material you need to keep track of the source of the material to avoid the resultant child marrying a biological sibling at some point in the future. When using donor Jewish sperm there may also be a question of mamzerus if adultery is ruled genetically or as per biyah.

There are a few new articles up about halacha and IVF on jewishfertility.org but they haven't posted anything about donor material or bris.

44

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