By Dovid Zaklikowski for COLlive and Hasidic Archives
After his father’s passing in 1979, Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov Friedman ascended to the leadership of the Sadigura Chassidic dynasty, based in Israel. One of the issues on his mind at the time was the slow population growth in Israel, which the government seemed to be encouraging by actively promoting family planning.
Eager to discuss the problem, Rabbi Friedman came to visit the Rebbe on June 18, 1980 at Lubavitch Headquarters – 770 Eastern Parkway.
Part of the difficulty, he told the Rebbe, was social stigma. “The doctors make a mockery of families who have many children,” he said. It seemed ironic that the Israeli government was willing to spend thousands of dollars on each immigrant, yet actively discouraged its citizens from having more than a few children.
“The government needs to be encouraged to give a greater allowance for each child that is born,” the Rebbe replied. This allowance should be given to all segments of the society and religions. “They are also commanded [to have children],” the Rebbe said, quoting the verse (Isaiah 45:18): “For so said the L-rd, the Creator of heaven . . . Who formed the earth and made it . . . did not create it for a waste. He formed it to be inhabited.”
Taken aback, Rabbi Friedman asked why the Israeli government should encourage non-Jews to have children.
It is the Jews’ responsibility, the Rebbe said, to make sure that non-Jews are aware of and fulfilled their Torah obligations. By discouraging births, the government was discouraging them from fulfilling the G-d-given command of, “He formed it to be inhabited.”