Jun 30, 2010

Interesting Psak from Rav Ovadia Yosef: marrying while pregnant

Normally a pregnant woman is not allowed to get married to anyone other than to the father of the child. As well, when a woman has given birth, she is technically not allowed to get married for up to two years after the birth to another man (see your own Rabbi for clarification if you are in such a situation). The concern is that the woman will get pregnant with the baby of the second man and will not be able to feed, will not have enough mothers milk, for the first baby. At 24 months, the baby is deemed in halacha to be strong enough to survive and no longer require mothers milk.

The practical question recently arose when a single woman was pregnant through IVF fertility treatment and soo after "conceiving" she met a man and they decided to marry.

Here she is, wanting to get married, but pregnant with "another man's" baby. What to do?

After consulting, her case was brought to Rav Ovadia who paskened, in a breakthrough psak and one that will be sure to be used as a precedent in the future, that she could get married. His psak is based on the fact that nowadays most women do not nurse for 24 months, along with the fact that today we have supplements and mothers milk is not necessarily required.

The main point of his psak though is that the groom (now husband) had agreed in writing to support the child. Normally we are concerned that a father will support his own child but not the child born to a different father, and the first baby would be left uncared for. The groom agreeing to support the baby solved that problem and Rav Ovadia said there is no need to extend the decree beyond what it was originally meant to include, and they could get married. There is no suspicion that the child will be harmed by the couple getting married, in this instance.

The couple married a few days ago. Mazel tov.


  1. Very interesting. An article by R' Nachum Rabinowitz in Techumin 17 suggested leniencies for nursing mothers during fasts, despite the availability of bottles, on the grounds that the mother's milk is far superior to formula. (I am not endorsing that position, just citing it.)

  2. why would you need such logic for fast days? Dont we have the shulchan aruch saying "meinekes" doesnt have to fast (some of them)? I dont remember other than that on 9 av and 10 tishrei it says specifically that even meuberes and meinekes do, but I think it says by others that they do not

  3. is there an actual written responsa available?

  4. two issues with this:

    1. i have also learned that the 24 month issue is the "chazaka" of meineket. and even if a woman is no longer actually nursing, she can maitain this chazakah for all minor fasts 24 months after giving birth.

    2. why does rav ovadia's psak have to do with nursing? that should be relevant if the baby was already born. in this case, though, the considerations should be how likely it is (nowadays) for her to get pregnant with the husband's child soon after bearing the first child and how soon.

  5. you can get pregnant very quickly after. Immediately after the 6 weeks or so that it takes on average for a woman to become tehora after a birth. It usually doesnt happen so quikly, but it is not uncommon. We have two chuildren that are born exactly a year apart. That means it took 3 months after the first birth until my wife was pregnant with the second.

  6. R' Rabinowitz's article was regarding Tisha b'Av and Yom Kippur.

  7. Rav Ovadia is the best rov money can buy.
    I am curious how much the government of Israel paid him to say the Ethipoians are Jews when all other poskim say they are not & need a full giyur to be considered Jews.


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