The Guides:

Mazornet, Inc. is proud to present its newest guide to Judaism.

"Infertility - A Jewish Perspective"
Rivka C. Berman
Yael Rosenberg, Editor 

An attempt is made to present the perspective of the major streams of Judaism in an effort to deem this guide practical and its resources helpful to all Jews.



Some of the halachic hurdles that surround fertility therapy are absent when it comes to in vitro fertilization, because in this therapy the embryo results from the husband’s sperm fertilizing the wife’s ova. However, there are some issues that result from this form of infertility treatment that has garnered great controversy.


Unused Embryos

There are halachic questions that arise with IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) and one of them concerns the leftover and unused embryos. Practitioners are faced with the issue of what is the status of unused embryos after IVF is completed?

Infertility practitioners tend to fertilize more eggs in embryos than are going to be implanted in the woman’s womb. This is to allow for multiple trials toward achieving a viable pregnancy. The leftover embryos are usually frozen and can be used for multiple purposes, or can be thawed and discarded.


What is done with the extra embryos has elicited complicated halachic and ethical questions. Halachic discussion centers on the question of when life begins and determines different rabbinic responsa on what can be done to the embryos.


A well-respected Orthodox rabbi, J. David Bleich, who has written extensively about these issues, recommends that the number of eggs fertilized should correspond exactly with the number implanted. This avoids the problems surrounding disposal of the unused embryos but also lessens the possibility of success. Some halachic authorities are in favor of letting them remain frozen for future use by the couple, while others permit allowing the cells to thaw and naturally expire. There are some orthodox rabbinic opinions that allow the use of the embryos for stem cell research.


The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism supports using unused embryos for stem cell research.


Reform scholars have permitted the embryos’ donation to other infertile couples, because the possibility of the resulting children becoming involved in a potentially incestuous relationship is remote. They strongly support use of unused embryos for stem cell research; however do not advocate creation of embryos for that purpose.

Conservative and Reform Rabbis differ in opinion from the Orthodox point of view.  Read more about the different therapies and the Jewish Perspective of the major streams of Judaism: