Shlomo Ezagui

What is a Fetus in its Mothers Womb


After being barren for many years, Rivkah conceived and is now expecting twins. The children struggled within her, and she did not know she was carrying twins. Rivkah went “to ask God” why her pregnancy was so difficult by turning to the priest of God at that time, Sheim. Through Divine inspiration, Sheim revealed to her she was carrying twins. Every time she would pass a house of God, one of the twins, Jacob, pushed to get out. When she would pass an idol-worshiping temple, the other twin, Esau, tried to get out.

Even in their mother’s wombs, babies have their own individual personalities. They are distinct entities. There is nature AND nurture. 

The Talmud, written over 2000 years ago, describes how R. Simlai delivered the following discourse: “What does an embryo resemble when it is in the womb of its mother? Folded writing tablets. Its hands rest on its two temples, its two elbows on its legs, and its two heels against its buttocks. Its head lies between its knees, its mouth is closed, its navel is open, and it eats what its mother eats and drinks what its mother drinks but produces no excrement because otherwise, it might kill its mother. As soon as it sees the light, the closed organ opens, and the open one closes, for if that had not happened, the embryo could not live even one hour.

A light burns above its head, and it looks and sees from one end of the world to the other […], and there is no time in which a man enjoys greater happiness than in those days, for it is said […] it is also taught all the Torah from beginning to end.”

Most people sleep in the fetal position because they subconsciously yearn for the experience in their lives that was most sublime, most transcendent: when they were in their mother’s stomach.

The great mystic, the Arizal, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria  1534 – 1572, explains the process of life coming into this world as occurring in four stages, each corresponding to one of the four letters in God’s name and the four elements of life. By the third day from conception, 18 sparks have entered the process. In Hebrew, the word for “eighteen” means “alive.” On the third day, there is already the identity and the soul of a brand-new living person in the mother’s womb. It contains the full spectrum of human life. This is step number one.

As many know, we are a spirit dressed in a body. Now comes the building of this garment for the soul, the exterior tool, the body, through which the actual person, the soul, will relate to the physical world. At forty days — which medical science records as the stage when brain waves can be detected in the fetus — the body has already budded in complete form.

According to the Talmud, even the gender of a fetus is already determined by the fortieth day.

In Hebrew, the word for mother is Eim, the numerical value of 41, because on the forty-first day, in every sense, we have a mother of a completely formed child: soul and body.

The third stage is three months when the baby can be noticed outside, and the body develops in greater detail. The fourth stage is when the baby is finally born, and there are over 60,000 miles of vessels. A genuinely Divine and miraculous creation, starting from the very beginning.

It is a known fact that not only will the fetus be affected by the outside atmosphere while in its mother’s womb — music, stressful or peaceful experiences, and so forth, in the environment — but that even later in life, it will show signs of that memory.

From conception, a child in its mother’s womb, especially from day three, is already fully individualized and distinct, living and pursuing its unique mission and purpose for coming to this world.

Chapter 163

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" ( & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" ( In 1987, Rabbi Ezagui opened the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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