search
Jeffrey Levine
CFO | Seeking a just world I Author

The Rights of Children: Infanticide Vs Jewish Tradition

Introduction: In the Jewish tradition, childbirth is regarded as a sacred experience, marked by rituals and offerings that signify gratitude, devotion, and purification. However, when we explore historical practices beyond Jewish tradition, we encounter a stark and troubling reality: the widespread prevalence of infanticide.

Through understanding and embracing the ethical principles of Judaism, we can strive to build a more compassionate and just world, where every life is cherished and protected.

The featured video is from  Ken Spiro who talks about his book – “WorldPerfect which explores 4,000 years of world history and gives fascinating insight into the profound impact the Jewish people have had on the collective conscience of humanity. This book will completely transform your understanding of Judaism and the mission of the Jews as a “Light to the nations”.

Childbirth in Jewish Tradition: Parsha Tazria, a portion of the Hebrew Bible, outlines the rituals and offerings associated with childbirth in ancient Jewish tradition for both boys and girls. Until today for boys, Circumcision, signifies the covenant between God and the Jewish people. This tradition underscores the sacredness of childbirth and the importance of expressing gratitude and devotion to God for the gift of life.

Comparison with Infanticide Practices: In contrast to the reverence for life inherent in Jewish tradition, ancient societies such as the Greeks and Romans practiced infanticide, particularly targeting female infants. This stark disparity highlights the ethical chasm between Jewish values and the cultural norms of other civilizations.

The Shocking Reality of Infanticide: Infanticide, the act of killing an infant shortly after birth, was disturbingly widespread in ancient times. Influenced by factors such as poverty, gender bias, and cultural beliefs, societies across various regions engaged in this heinous practice, perpetuating cycles of violence and suffering.

Here are some examples of historical and cultural contexts in which infanticide has occurred:

Ancient Civilizations: In some ancient societies, particularly those with limited resources or where certain children were considered undesirable due to disabilities, gender, or other factors, infanticide was practiced. For example, in ancient Rome, it was legal for a father to kill an infant by exposing them to the elements if he deemed the child undesirable or if the family couldn’t support another child.

Female Infanticide: In cultures where male children were preferred for various reasons such as inheritance, labor, or social status, female infanticide occurred. This has been documented in various parts of the world, including parts of Asia where male heirs were traditionally valued more than female offspring.

Poverty and Desperation: In societies facing extreme poverty, famine, or other hardships, parents may resort to infanticide due to their inability to provide for the child’s basic needs. This could be seen as a tragic last resort rather than a deliberate act of cruelty.

Social Stigma and Discrimination: Infants born with disabilities or congenital conditions have sometimes been subject to infanticide due to societal stigma, discrimination, or a belief that such children were incapable of contributing to society or were a burden on their families.

Cultural Practices: In some cultures, particularly those with strong beliefs in spiritual or religious traditions, infanticide may have been justified or even ritualized in certain circumstances, although such practices are generally condemned in modern times.

Uncovering the Truth:

Despite the tendency to romanticize ancient civilizations, it is imperative to acknowledge the dark realities of their practices, including infanticide. The revelation of this historical truth serves as a sobering reminder of the moral complexities of human history.

Some examples:

Ancient Rome: Infanticide, particularly the exposure of unwanted infants, was practiced in ancient Rome. Fathers had the legal right to expose infants, leaving them to die of exposure to the elements if they deemed the child undesirable or if the family couldn’t support another child.

China: Throughout its history, China has had instances of infanticide, particularly female infanticide due to a preference for male heirs. Factors such as the one-child policy, which was implemented in China from 1979 to 2015, also contributed to instances of infanticide as families sought to ensure that their one allowable child was male.

India: Female infanticide has been a significant issue in parts of India, driven by cultural preferences for male offspring, dowry practices, and gender inequality. Despite legal prohibitions, cases of female infanticide and sex-selective abortions have been reported in some regions.

Various Indigenous Societies: Historically, some indigenous societies have practiced infanticide for various reasons, including population control, resource scarcity, or cultural beliefs. Examples include certain tribes in the Americas and Pacific Islands.

Europe and North America: While infanticide is not as prevalent in contemporary Western societies, historical records indicate instances of infanticide, particularly during times of poverty, social upheaval, or when children were born out of wedlock and considered illegitimate.

Ancient Greece: Similar to ancient Rome, infanticide was practiced in ancient Greece, although historical accounts suggest that it was less common than in Rome.

Jewish Wisdom and Civilization:

In the face of challenges and attacks against Israel and Jewish communities, it is essential to recognize the enduring impact of Jewish wisdom on civilization. The condemnation of infanticide in Jewish tradition reflects a profound commitment to the sanctity of life and the pursuit of justice and compassion.

The comparison between the Jewish approach and the practice of infanticide underscores fundamental differences in ethical perspectives and values:

Jewish Approach:

  1. Sanctity of Life: Judaism places a high value on the sanctity of human life, considering it to be inherently valuable and sacred. Every individual, including infants, is seen as having inherent worth and dignity.
  2. Protection of the Vulnerable: Jewish tradition emphasizes the obligation to protect and care for the vulnerable members of society, including infants. Infants are regarded as particularly vulnerable and deserving of special care and attention.
  3. Ethical Responsibility: Jewish ethics prioritize compassion, justice, and moral responsibility. Infanticide is viewed as a grave violation of these ethical principles, as it entails the deliberate taking of innocent life.
  4. Legal Prohibitions: Jewish law explicitly prohibits infanticide and condemns any form of child sacrifice or killing of infants. Such acts are considered sinful and subject to severe legal penalties.
  5. Cultural Practices: Jewish culture and tradition emphasize the value of life and the importance of familial and communal support for parents and children. Practices such as circumcision and the offering of sacrifices after childbirth symbolize gratitude, dedication, and the importance of ritual purification rather than violence or harm.

Infanticide:

  1. Cultural Acceptance: In some societies, infanticide has been culturally accepted or even encouraged under certain circumstances. Factors such as poverty, gender bias, or disability may lead to the devaluation of infant life and justify the practice in the eyes of some.
  2. Violation of Human Rights: Infanticide represents a fundamental violation of the rights of the infant to life, dignity, and protection. It disregards the inherent worth and value of human life and perpetuates cycles of violence and suffering.
  3. Psychological Impact: Infanticide can have profound psychological and emotional effects on both individuals and society as a whole. It can lead to trauma, guilt, and moral desensitization, undermining the social fabric and moral integrity of communities.
  4. Lack of Legal Protections: In societies where infanticide is practiced, there may be a lack of legal protections for infants, leaving them vulnerable to harm without recourse or protection.

In summary, the Jewish approach to childbirth and infant care emphasizes the sanctity of life, ethical responsibility, and the protection of the vulnerable. In contrast, the practice of infanticide reflects a disregard for these principles and represents a violation of human rights and ethical norms. Through this comparison, we see how cultural, religious, and ethical perspectives shape attitudes and behaviours towards infants and childbirth.

The situation today

Linking Child Rights and the SDGs – Learning from Infanticide

One would have to think that the world today is more moral, more caring, and especially when one reads the noble aspirations of today’s “Ten Commandments”, which is the United Nations SDGs. And it’s a pity that more people are not familiar with these United Nations SDGs.

I have many chapters explaining and delving into the SDGs in my book, Upgrading ESG, which can be bought on Amazon, and you can buy through the following link.

https://www.upgradingesg.com/book

Here I am sharing the featured headline from https://www.unicef.org/documents/linking-child-rights-and-sdgs

“Presently, we stand at a crossroads and particularly important moment in time for the world’s children. Against the backdrop of children, adolescents and youth around the world demanding to be heard and taking action for their future through climate strikes in over 170 countries, it is fitting that 2019 was also the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)1 – the most widely ratified human rights treaty in existence – which guarantees every child the right to a healthy, safe and sustainable future as well as the right to be heard on issues and decisions that will affect that future. At the same time, the year 2020 marks 10 years until the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)2 are set to be reached. The SDGs — which call for inclusive economic, social and environmental progress for all people and the planet – are the blueprint for creating the world that all of us need, and that children are demanding”

Again an empty set of words with no real meaning or action.

Babies and Children are vulnerable. Parenting and raising Children is not easy. Unfortunately, even in our age Children suffer the impacts of poverty, violence, inequality and exclusion disproportionately, due to their sensitive phase of life and development.

However, it does not end here. When we look at the debates gender is gets confusing.

When writing this blog, I was browsing on my “favourite” website, the BBC, to see what anti-Israel bias there was today, and up popped this article on gender, and children have been let down. Basically, we’re talking about the phenomenon today of trans, pronouns etc.  The system in many countries (including Israel) enables the ability to easily transform male to female to female to male. Now, this is something that is interesting, because on the one hand, we believe in the Bible and God and the way that we were born, and basically, the idea of trans goes against the traditional values, and is not easy for parents. I myself have a child who is trans, and I’m amazed at the easiness and the support that enables children or young adults to be trans, and we’re living in an emotional up-to-down world, and one can’t suppress these feelings.

But, again, this is, when we’re talking about child rights, and protection of the child, where do you draw the line?

And this is an extracted article from the BBC.

Children have been let down by a lack of research and “remarkably weak” evidence on medical interventions in gender care, a landmark review says.

The Cass Review, published on Wednesday by padiatrician Dr Hilary Cass, calls for gender services for young people to match the standards of other NHS care.

She says the “toxicity” of the debate around gender meant professionals were “afraid” to openly discuss their views.”

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-68770641

Making the case for moral world

As a Jew, as an Israeli, I feel there’s a revision of history that is trying to accompany this so-called evil, this axis of evil, by so many countries, people around the world. And I’m implored to stand up and make the case for the Jewish impact on civilization. And there’s no doubt that when one looks at the way children were treated in civilization, in contrast to the Jewish approach, we have a lot to learn from our Jewish heritage.

This Blog was inspired by the Book:  “WorldPerfect – the Jewish Impact on civilization” by Ken Spiro

https://kenspiro.com/product/world-perfect-book

He asks:

What would the world be like without Judaism and the Jewish People?

His book – “WorldPerfect explores 4,000 years of world history and gives fascinating insight into the profound impact the Jewish people have had on the collective conscience of humanity. This book will completely transform your understanding of Judaism and the mission of the Jews as a “Light to the nations.”

Featured Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8883H2mJ6s

Conclusion: We are confronted with the stark dichotomy between the reverence for life upheld by Judaism and the prevalence of infanticide in ancient societies. This sobering comparison underscores the timeless relevance of Jewish values and the imperative to uphold the sanctity of life in all its forms.

Through understanding and embracing the ethical principles of Judaism, we can strive to build a more compassionate and just world, where every life is cherished and protected.

 

Credits:

Chat GPT helped in  writing this blog.

About the Author
Jeffrey is a CFO | Seeking a just world I Author -living in Jerusalem. He is a young grandfather who has five kids and seven grandchildren. Jeffrey is promoting a vision for a better and fairer world through https://upgradingesg.com and is the author of Upgrading ESG - How Business can thrive in the age of Sustainability
Related Topics
Related Posts