22 Av 5781 / Saturday, July 31, 2021 | Torah Reading: Eikev
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Closing the Gates    

Closing the Gates

The young couple was doing everything right – keeping the Sabbath, observing family purity, learning Torah, and helping others. Yet, they were still drowning in debt…


Translated by Rabbi Lazer Brody

In this time of recession and global financial problems, people unwittingly do exactly opposite of what’s good for them.
I won’t beat around the bush - birth control closes the gates of Heavenly mercy. Two of my students - a young couple - came to me for advice. It appeared that they were doing everything right: they observed the laws of family purity; they devoted an hour a day to hitbodedut; they attended Torah lectures regularly. They confided in me that for several years they had been suffering terrible financial problems. Although in the past they had been comfortable, now they were drowning in debt. They were experiencing great difficulties, and it seemed as if nothing was going right for them, as if the gates of Heavenly mercy were locked. Why? I knew that there had to be a reason.
A thought occurred to me. I asked, "Are you using birth control?"
The couple stared at me in confusion and shock. Then they glanced at each other and answered, "Yes."
I said to them, "Now I understand what's going on. You closed the source of life, so life is now closed to you. You used birth control without a Rabbi's permission and prevented a life from entering this world. Now Hashem is preventing you from enjoying your life. Just as you closed the gates for a life to enter the world, He closed His gates of heavenly mercy.
The Hebrew word for womb is RaCHeM, which has the same root letters as the Hebrew word for mercy, RaCHaMim. Closing the gate, the RaCHeM, through which Hashem brings a life into the world, causes Hashem to close his gate of RaCHaMim, Divine Mercy.
Many people are unaware of the seriousness of using birth control. The Creator, Who is the Source of all life, desires to give us life! The purpose of the entire universe is to provide us, Hashem's creatures, with life. That is the first commandment in the Torah. As soon as Hashem created the universe, He commanded his creatures to be fruitful and multiply. There is nothing that contradicts the purpose of creation more than closing the womb to the gift of life through birth control! Our Rabbis wrote, "The world was created for being fruitful and multiplying, as the prophet states, 'He did not create it for a waste, He formed it to be inhabited,' (Yeshayahu 45:18) (Chagiga 2).
Doctors often advise a woman who has given birth through a C-section to tie her tubes. After such a procedure the woman is usually unable to have more children. It differs from birth control in that with birth control; once the woman stops using birth control she is able to have more children whereas this can only be reversed through surgery. In addition to being dangerous, surgery is not always successful. Even if a woman realizes that having her tubes tied was wrong, in most cases she cannot undo what she did and have more children.
Some people don't want to bring more children into this world because they believe that they aren't earning enough money to support them. This is false! Hashem provides each of his creatures with all of their sustenance. From the moment a child is born, he is born with his individual source of sustenance!
Many people have a source of livelihood in the merit of their children. Although, from Heaven, they were not destined to live comfortably, the soul that they brought down to this world was destined to live a comfortable life. In such a case, the parent's income is in the merit of the children they are raising! Those people who don't want to bring children into this world for financial reasons are making a big mistake. Not only will their children not take away from what they are supposed to receive, it's very possible that they will bring into this world a child who is destined to be wealthy, and in the merit of this child they will also become wealthy.
Birth control is permitted (and sometimes necessary) if there is a health problem. If a doctor suggests birth control for a health problem, a qualified orthodox rabbi should always be consulted. If a Rabbi decides that a couple should use birth control, they must be very careful to follow the Rabbi's instructions exactly. If, for example, the Rabbi told the couple to use birth control for a specific period of time, they must stop using it after that time is up, or, if there is a reason to continue, discuss it with the Rabbi again, and then follow his instructions.
When a man prevents a pregnancy by spilling his seed, he is transgressing the severe prohibition of wasting his seed, which is explicitly prohibited by the Torah, and he will be severely punished. The greater part of his punishment will take place in this world, through losing money and incurring debt.
If you’re using birth control without consulting a qualified Rabbi, it’s time to stop and reassess. This is not helping your current financial bind. By strengthening our emuna and doing what Hashem wants us to, we reopen the gates of Divine mercy and bring all types of abundance to the world, amen.

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