This week's parsha
It may be a truism that no person has ever declared on their deathbed, "I wish I'd spent more time at the office," but I guarantee neither has anyone ever said, "I wish I'd had fewer children."
In the late sixties and early seventies, a cabal of quasi-scientists spouting pessimistic forecasts of approaching doom managed to sow mindless panic with their scare-tactics about population explosion and mass starvation. The theory then went something along the lines of: Mass-overpopulation is impending, whereupon the ability of the planet to sustain us all will become overstretched and if we are lucky we'll all perish and if not we'll really suffer and until then can you just stop having kids and send lots of grant money to my research foundation so I can live in luxury while researching this imminent disaster while appearing regularly on all the best talk shows to promote my latest book about the problem...
They sucked us in. Empirically, every honest study shows that, year-by-year, food is becoming more available, healthier and cheaper to produce. Poverty is being alleviated, with standards of living zooming up worldwide. If anything, the single biggest problem looming on the economic horizon in the West is our graying population, with not enough young people coming on line to replace the baby boomer generation who believed all that pseudo-babble about population bombs and didn't have enough children to guarantee their retirement pensions.
I can see you shaking your heads and arguing that the reason the environment is improving and resources have increased is because we heeded those clarion calls in time. Reminds me of the guy walking down the street holding the huge magnet to scare away the pink elephants. When informed that there are no pink elephants he smugly observes, "See, works, doesn't it?"
The reason it works is because that's how G‑d wanted it. Last week we read how the first commandment given to (the then childless) Adam was, "Be fruitful and multiply, fill the world and take control of it" (Genesis 1:28). In this week's Torah reading, Noah, after having survived the flood and already the proud father of three grown sons, is given the same instructions. Commentators on the Bible understand from the above that even one blessed with children in one's youth should continue to procreate. Large families are the greatest of blessings, with each additional child bringing his or her individual blessings to the family.
Nature and the environment were created to serve humankind, not the reverse. G‑d forbid to gratuitously cause harm to our ecosystem, and truly we bear responsibility to protect this world for future generations, but our first responsibility is to humankind.
It is time to reject the insidious perversions of contemporary culture, to proudly acknowledge our intention to have as large a family as we can. We are positive that G‑d, the creator of all, can provide for and sustain all His creations. The blessings and pleasure that each child brings far outweigh any economic apprehensions. Every extra spark of humanity bought to this world, every additional soul enhancing the Jewish nation, brings the world one step closer to its ultimate perfection and justifies G‑d's plan for His universe.