Parashat Tazria describes how the mother of a newborn is required to bring sacrifices to God in gratitude for a successful pregnancy. The Midrash in Vayikra Rabbah 14:3 asks: “If a person carries a bag of money with the opening facing downwards, don’t the coins scatter?!” The Midrash responds: “Now the embryo has its place in the mother’s womb, but God guards it so that it should not fall out. Is that not a matter of praise?” According to Gwynn Kessler, author of Conceiving Israel, the rabbis who composed this Midrash and others like it believed that the development of the fetus was more of a theological process rather than a biological one.
- Why do you think the rabbis focused more on the theological aspects of pregnancies rather than the biological ones?
- How do you think the circumstances of high rates of infant mortality influenced their focus?