Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro recently tweeted about how negatively authorities in Jewish law view abortion.
Critics of his tweet included some observant Jews — among them, a rabbi, who wrote that “Shapiro’s position on abortion tracks much more closely with the extremist positions of several Christian denominations, especially Catholics and white evangelicals.”
In fact, Shapiro’s outrage over the destruction of unborn life is a profoundly Jewish attitude shared by several rabbinical leaders through the generations.
During World War II, Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog described decreased birthrates via abortion as “a hideous sin … a grave sin against the laws of our sacred Torah, which is a Torah of life, which desires life and the multiplication of life.” He linked abortions in Israel with the slaughter of children in the Holocaust.
“The freedom of parents to crush prenatal life, which now seems to be in vogue, will eventually lead to utter destruction,” Rabbi Norman Lamm stated in 1970, “because it is only a small leap of logic from feoticide to infanticide, to getting rid of infants who may not fulfill our ideals of mental and physical health, or, eventually, ethnic and genetic respectability.”
Rabbi Lamm reiterated those themes in a sermon from 1976: “Never, never, must we allow this desacralization of life — whether in the form of benevolent euthanasia or free and easy abortions … or any of the other manifestations of this fundamental antagonism to life — to influence us.”
Advising an expectant mother in 1971, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (the Lubavitcher Rebbe) wrote, “Should there be those who desire to persuade [you] that — God forbid — you perform an abortion: Tell them that this constitutes deliberate murder of a creature who is as yet unable to protect himself from those who seek to murder him.”
Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik also referred to those who “murder the children” in Israel through abortions and wrote of the “murder of an unborn child” elsewhere.
“Their blood cries out from the earth,” Rabbi Avigdor Miller said of Israel’s abortions. Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits condemned abortion there as “mass slaughter of the innocents … posing a security problem graver than any threats of war or terror.” (According to political scientist Rebecca Steinfeld in 2015, “Israel has one of the highest late-term abortion rates globally.”)
In a universal context, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein wrote that “abortion on demand is a moral abomination, whoever the fetus may be.”
Some Jews have coarsened themselves to the general abhorrence with which Judaism views abortion. The preceding moral leadership did not, and neither has Ben Shapiro.
Myles Kantor has written for many publications on subjects ranging from Israel to the sport of powerlifting.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.