Keeping in mind the fertility challenged at the Seder

When reading the Haggada, we come across the verse from Shmot 1:7 which describes the growth of the nation: “The children of Israel were fruitful (paru) and swarmed (va-yishretzu), multiplied (va-yirbu) and grew (va-yaatzmu) more and more (bimeod meod). The whole land was filled with them.”

Rashbam differentiates between each of the verbs:

Paru: “they were fruitful” in pregnencies; va-yishretzu: “they swarmed” with live births since tiny creatures are described as swarming on the ground; va-yirbu: “they increased” in size, the small grew bigger and did not die in infancy; va-yaatzmu: “they grew” and did not die but were numerous and became very powerful.

In Midrash Lekach Tov, Rabbi Hiyya teaches that the verse emphasizes the extraordinary nature of this population explosion: Every daughter of Israel would give birth to six corresponding to the six terms: Paru, va-yishretzu, va-yirbu, va-yaatzmu, bimeod meod.

The seder is set up as a family oriented ritual focused on the concept of “you shall teach your children” with the Ma Nishtana (Four Questions) recited by the youngest child, the discussion of the Four Children, the different activities which keep the children interested culminating with the search for the Afikoman etc. It can be challenging for couples who are suffering from infertility to feel part of this.

In the Haggada, there is also the aspect of hope for the fertility challenged. B’nai Yisrael multiplied despite Pharaoh’s decrees, the midwives saved the baby boys, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted Moshe and raised him as her own.

While enjoying our own seders, when we recite the verse from Shmot 1:7, let’s keep in mind those who are fertility challenged and let’s pray that their wishes come true, that their fertility issues will be resolved and that they be blessed with healthy children as the Israelites were in Egypt.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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