Too Many Children?
"Too many children are being born to the religious in Israel and this is what is causing our economic problems."
This is what one of the speakers at a recent convention in Israel declared with a straight face. To observant Jews who see bringing children into the world not only as the fulfillment of a Divine command but as the best thing for the future of Israel as a Jewish state, this outrageous remark sounded like an echo of Pharaoh. In this week's Torah portion we read of the Egyptian ruler's warning to his people about the danger they faced "lest they (the Jews) increase."
What a switch in the attitude of secular Israelis towards birth increase! In the early years of the state the government awarded prizes to women bearing many children because there was a desperate need for bolstering the Jewish population. The same need still exists in light of the demographic danger posed by the Arab birth rate.
One can only conclude that the above-mentioned speaker had a problem only with the fact that the religious population was growing. He should recall, however, that the Heavenly response to Pharaoh's "lest they increase" was "they shall indeed increase."