The decision to have or not to have an abortion can be one of the most challenging decisions for a parent. Below, we will find how the Rebbe helped such parents out in these tumultuous stages of their lives.
Rabbi Tuvia Bolton was once contacted by a woman considering having an abortion unless she was to get a clear directive from the Rebbe saying otherwise. After faxing in her request to the Rebbe, a surprisingly quick response was sent back with a clear message that the Rebbe was listening to her and that she should reconsider. The woman, amazed by the response, did not go through with the abortion. The Rebbe concluded by quoting the famous Gemara that she had saved the entire world by saving this one life.
Rabbi Tuvia Bolton, a senior lecturer at Yeshiva Ohr HaTmimim in Kfar Chabad, related the following incident:
One afternoon, about ten years ago, I entered the office of our yeshivah in Kfar Chabad (the Chabad village in Israel) and checked the voice mail on our telephone. The first message was: “My name is Zahavah, and my phone number is. ...”
She obviously had the wrong number, so I decided I’d do her a favor and call her back to let her know. I called the number she left, and when Zahavah answered, I tried to explain to her that she had made a mistake. “One minute,” she said, “this is Kfar Chabad, right? I want to speak to Kfar Chabad.”
When I answered in the affirmative, she continued: “Good! Well, I have a friend called Sarah. She’s pregnant and says she can’t afford another child; she already has three, and her husband doesn’t earn much, so she decided to have an abortion. I tried to talk her out of it and even sent rabbis and experts to her. They spoke to her for hours, but nothing worked.
“Now she says that the only thing that will change her mind is if the Rebbe of Chabad himself calls her and personally tells her not to do it. That is why I called you. You’re Chabad, right?”
I explained to Zahavah that the Rebbe is very busy, that he prays, studies and teaches Torah twenty hours a day and also answers about one thousand letters and requests each day, so it is unreasonable to expect him to call people back on the phone.
I suggested that I was willing to send a fax to the Rebbe explaining Sarah’s situation and ask for a blessing that the next person who speaks with her should succeed in convincing her to have the baby.
Zahavah agreed, I sent the fax, and just one hour later I received a call from the Rebbe’s office that the Rebbe had issued an answer!
The Rebbe wrote,
“האומנם חיפשו ולא מצאו מי שישפיע עלי'. אזכיר עה"צ.” Indeed [Is it true, that people] searched and could not find anyone that would be able to have an influence on her? I will mention [her] at the Tziyon
I immediately called Zahavah and excitedly read her the Rebbe’s answer.
For a moment she was silent and then she slowly said, “Is the Rebbe saying that I’m lying? That no one ever spoke to Sarah?”
I really hadn’t thought about it but I realized that she had a point. I tried to think of some other possible explanation for the Rebbe’s words but she cut me off.
“The Rebbe sits over there in New York! How can he know if I’m telling the truth or not?”
There was silence for a minute; I didn’t know what to say.
Finally she said, “Well Rabbi, I want you to know that there is no Zahavah... I am Sarah. No one ever spoke to me about not having the abortion. I don’t know how the Rebbe knew! But one thing is sure — I just got the answer I was waiting for, in person, from the Rebbe. Please tell him that I’m not going to have the abortion. Tell him that I decided to have the baby and to trust that G‑d will help.”
I faxed in what she said to the Rebbe’s office and three hours later I received yet another reply:
ואמחז"ל המקיים נפש אחת מישראל כאילו קיים עולם מלא. אזכיר עה"צ שקיימה כנ"ל עולם מלא. ותבש"ט. Chazal tells us [in a Mishnah of the [Talmudic] Tractate Sanhedrin] that anyone who saves one Jewish soul is as though he saved the entire world. I will mention at the Tziyon that she has saved, as mentioned above, an entire world. And may she bear good news
(As related by Rabbi Bolton)
Another Maaneh related to this story:
הפלה ר"ל ה"ז הריגה ר"ל דהעובר. אזכיר עה"צ.
In the following letter, the Rebbe discusses his opinion on the perspective a parent should view pregnancy and having children in general; both being a blessing from Hashem and that the parent does not have the authority to decide the fate of the embryo.
By the Grace of G-d
22nd of Cheshvan, 5733 Brooklyn, N.Y. Mrs.
Seaford, N.Y. Blessing and Greeting:
I am in receipt of your letter in which you write highlights of your personal history and present state of health, in connection with your pregnancy.
Generally speaking, in such a situation, and what has to be done, it is necessary to consult a practicing Rov, giving him all the pertinent information he may require in order to advise you what to do in accordance with our Torah and halacha.
However, while I do not pasken shaalos, I can nevertheless convey to you my opinion on the nevertheless convey to you my opinion on the basis of your letter. This is that pregnancy and children are a blessing from G-d and therefore it is certain that He Who gives children also gives necessary strength and capacities to go through the act of birth, etc. and G-d may be fully trusted.
As for your husband's attitude, as you write, I trust that he will himself recognize that he has no authority to decide the fate of an embryo, to let it develop or to kill it, G-d forbid. I may add, in your case specifically, that it is very significant, as you yourself write, that your husband was not originally enthused about the prospect of your third child, yet is now happy about it.
Judging by your writing, I am sure that it is unnecessary to emphasize to you at length the need to strengthen adherence in the daily life to the Will of G-d, including - and this is essential too - strengthening bitochon in G-d, Whose benevolent Providence extends to each and everyone individually, and to go about your daily everyone individually, and to go about your daily life with confidence, joy and gladness of heart. This widens the channels to receive G-d's blessings, and to recognize and enjoy them in the fullest measure. Since you request an urgent reply, this letter has been acknowledged ahead of its turn, and is sent to you by special delivery.
The Halacha varies in context of levels of danger to the mother and stage of the pregnancy.
Therefore, it is imperative to consult a Rov in all cases, whether is seems to be a case where one should be maikel or machmir.