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.



Jewish lore and practice describe symbolic acts that are supposed to enhance fertility. Most of them revolve around one of two principles, according to Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin. First, the word for blessing, bracha, is closely related to the word for pool, b’raycha. To some the words’ similarity describes the nature of blessings. If blessings are pool-like, then spreading goodness can help build a bigger vessel for capturing them. Second, altering metaphysical forces such as the evil eye or a less than fortuitous constellation can alter one’s destiny.

The following ideas are from Rabbi Cardin’s book, Tears of Sorrow, Seeds of Hope




Those who seek kindness from God should seek ways to extend kindness to others. In earlier generations this was expressed through acts of tzedakah, such as providing water and candles for those who spent their nights studying in the synagogue or placing a few coins into a charity box before lighting Shabbat candles.


Name Changing

The soulful equivalent of a Social Security or identification number is the Jewish name. All sorts of destined events are said to be linked to a person through his or her name. Sickness or health, poverty or wealth is believed to reach a person through their name. Changing a name alters a predestined fortune. Classic sources warn against taking a new name without first considering the consequences: “To tamper with name changing may upset the person’s good fortune and damage their future.” (Sefer Roni Akarah quoted in Cardin, p. 51)

Most who opt to add a new name pick one that speaks of healing (Refael, Raphaela), blessing (Baruch, Bracha), life (Chaim, Chaya), comfort (Nachum, Nechama), fortune (Asher, Mazal), or happiness (Simcha). It is then customary that the new name become the first name, and the one that the person is called by.

A rabbi isn’t needed for the ceremony, although many of those who consider a name change a very serious matter will want to have the new name entered into synagogue records. Whoever bestows the new name on the person will stand before two witnesses and proclaim: “Our rabbis taught that name changing alters one’s destiny… We therefore gather for the purpose of adding a name to the one formerly known as _________… may it soon bring the news that a child will be born to ___________ [use new name]” (Cardin, 52)


Lulav Loosening

Undoing the palm-frond band that joins the myrtle and willow to the lulav is supposed to help a woman unravel the knots in her fallopian tubes or other vessels that have prevented her from conceiving. Women often recite a prayer while doing the unbinding. (It’s best to do this on the last day of Sukkot, because an unbound lulav is hard to use for the traditional lulav shaking.)


Rubies and Other Red Stones

One of the few references to miscarriages in the Gemarah occurs when the rabbis discuss whether a woman could wear an EVEN TEKUMAH, a red stone amulet, on Shabbat or if it would be considered carrying in the public domain, a Shabbat prohibition.

Red like the womb, the EVEN TEKUMAH was supposed to promote fertility, prevent miscarriage, and provide for an easy childbirth. It is not exactly clear what sort of stone the EVEN TEKUMAH was. However, it is speculated that it could be any one of the known red stones such as Rubies, carnelian, eagle stone, or chalcedony.

Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, in her book Tears of Sorrow, Seeds of Hope, deepens what could have been the stones’ meaning. Red, she notes, is adom in Hebrew, a word with the same spelling as Adam, meaning human. Rubies were used on the high priest’s breastplate to represent the tribe of Reuben. In Genesis, Reuben brought his mother mandrakes, a plant that grows in the shape of a small person, and is supposed to promote love and fertility.


A New Prayer for Conception

Making love with the explicit intent of making a baby, goal-oriented intimacy, can become a passion drain. It is important for the couple trying to conceive to add affectionate and doting rituals to their love making.

The Bible’s Song of Songs, King Solomon’s work of erotic poetry, offers a meaningful and beautiful way for lovers to express their devotion to each other.

“Kiss me with the kisses of your mouth, for your love is sweeter than wine. The scent of your oils is lovely, your name is like the finest fragrance spread over me.” (Song of Songs, 1:2-3)

“You, my beloved, are handsome, beautiful indeed. Your cheeks are like boughs of spices, mounds of sweet herbs; your lips are like lilies, shimmering with flowing myrrh. This is my beloved and this is my friend, daughters of Jerusalem.” (Song of Songs 5:13,16)

Rabbi Nina Cardin, author of Tears of Sorrow, Seeds of Hope, encourages infertile couples to add prayers prior to love making. She composed a new prayer for couples attempting to conceive, which she includes in her book. The prayer incorporates ideas and phrases from Psalms and Song of Songs:


The Mikvah, A Ritual of Hope

A Mikvah is a gathering of waters used for ritual immersion. For three thousand years Jewish women have marked their biological rhythms and cycles with immersing in the Mikvah. This ritual signifies the culmination of a period of separation and the beginning of intimacy and creation of life. Etymologically, Mikvah is related to tikva, meaning the hope. For a woman who is trying to conceive, an immersion in the Mikvah offers an opportunity for renewal of hope.

Water utilized in the Mikvah is from a natural source. These rain drops emanating from the heavens symbolize the connection to God and his blessings. Submerging in this great heavenly resource engulfs the woman trying to conceive with hopefulness to being a partner in creating life.

Not only metaphysically but practically the Mikvah has long been entwined with the hope of fruitful fertility. Halachic practice dictated the schedule of permissible time for husband and wife to engage in physical love making. After a prescribed period of separation which included the days the woman menstruated and seven “clean days” there was the ritual of immersing in the Mikvah. Since it was highly desirable and recommended, couples engaged in sexual relations right after the immersion in the Mikvah. This schedule was a boost to fertility since on average ovulation occurs at the time the woman purifies herself in the Mikvah
Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, author of Tears of Sorrow, Seeds of Hope, has written a prayer to recite before entering the Mikvah. In part it asks, “God, as my cycle begins anew, let these coming weeks be a time of rejoicing; let this month be the season our dreams come true.”

Standing shoulder deep in the Mikvah water has traditionally been a time for women to meditate on their hearts’ desires. There are different customs on the number of dips, and each can signify a different intent and prayer.


Friday Night, Night of Light and Blessing

Shabbat draws back the curtain of the physical world for a peek at the spiritual reality lying beneath the surface of the work week. God feels closer on Shabbat, and prayers flow more freely. Part of the Shabbat candle lighting ritual is to cover one’s eyes when saying the blessing after the candles are lit. While this practice was born as a solution to a halachic technicality, covered eyes create a private prayer space. It forms a refuge from which women have prayed from their hearts for centuries.

Just a God’s presence reunites more fully with the world on the Sabbath; Friday night has been an auspicious night for reuniting husband and wife through the intimacy of lovemaking.


Eat Your Way to Pregnancy


It is recommended to eat fish because they are known for their fertility. However, since certain fish are high in mercury, only a moderate amount of a select type of fish should be eaten by a woman trying to get pregnant. The most common ones that are known to be low in mercury are salmon, herring, Tilapia and Sardines. Commentators on the Torah base their recommendation to eat fish on Jacob’s blessing of his grandsons. Jacob uses the term “vayidgu,” with the root “dag” Hebrew for fish, which means “and they should grow [into a multitude. Fish, they note, lay many eggs at once as they received an extra blessing for fertility during the Creation. Fertility was also on the minds of those who encouraged brides to wed on Wednesdays, the day that fish were created



The citron fruit that is used on Sukkot, the holiday of Tabernacles, is associated with several aspects of fertility. The Tree of Knowledge according to some was hung this bumpy yellow fruit. Since pain in childbirth is biblically linked to Eve’s nibble in Eden, biting an etrog’s stem may be an attempt to make “restitution for Eve’s disobedience, as if to say: If I had been there in the Garden, I would not have eaten of the fruit, so please reward me with my desire, a child.” (Cardin, 59.


Ezra the Scribe, a leader of the Jews during the Second Commonwealth, encouraged the consumption of garlic on Fridays. In their discussion of this enactment, Talmudic Sages note that Friday was the traditional night onah, lovemaking that was necessarily for procreative reasons, and garlic was thought to activate sexual drive and increase sperm count. (Bava Kamma 82a)