Torah for today: Miscarriage
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Torah for today: Miscarriage

Following tragic revelations that the Duchess of Sussex had a miscarriage,  Rabbi Garry Wayland offers an Orthodox perspective on dealing with the trauma

The Duchess of Sussex revealed last weekend that she had a miscarriage a few months ago. What does the Torah say about this sensitive issue?

“Rav Simlai (who lived in the third century) taught: To what is the baby in the mother’s womb compared? To a folded book… Her mouth is closed, the umbilical cord is open: she eats what the mother eats and drinks, and her waste does not kill the mother. When she comes into the air of the world, what is opened closes and what is closed opens – otherwise she could not last for one hour. 

“There they teach her the entire Torah and once she emerges into the air of the world, an angel comes and taps her on the lips to forget it all. And they make her swear an oath: be righteous and not a sinner!”

Thus reads one of the most poignant passages in the Talmud, describing prelife in utero: a miraculous fusion of physical and spiritual, the body – still, calm, being sustained through counterintuitive physical process. The soul – part of but beyond: seeing the essence of everything, learning divine wisdom.

The mother, bearing this precious responsibility, prays and waits for the moment when everything will change – for when ‘what is opened closes, what is closed opens’ – the traumatic birth pangs, the miraculous moments, followed by joy and relief. 

Yet painfully, tragically, this moment does not come for many: she is a custodian for a few months, but no more. Silently, alone, often unbeknown to her family and friends. 

The passage concludes, “God is pure, his angels are pure, and the soul He gave you is pure…” 

Sometimes this purity is too much for this world: the soul may be above or beyond, not for this particular time. 

May God grant every mother, who was unable to see the purity of the soul that was entrusted to her for long enough, comfort and strength, and may He grant all of us the sensitivity, insight and depth to support them.

  •  Rabbi Garry Wayland is a teacher and educator for
    US Living and Learning

• Anyone affected by this issue can contact The Miscarriage Association (www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk) or Chana (www.chana.org.uk)

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