Hanukkah family - Sinai

The View from Sinai — A Jewish Perspective on Abortion

1 April 2021


A speech by Don Feder to the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum’s Virtual Life Symposium, at the Catholic University of East Africa in Nairobi, March 23, 2021.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to once again address an event sponsored by the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum which does such vital work to protect life and the family in East Africa. We have a lot in common, you and I. We fight a common enemy to advance a common cause.

The battle for civilisation has shifted from Europe and America, where the odds are against us, to nations like Kenya, where we still have a fighting chance. Here’s a simple formula for saving civilisation in developing nations: Look at what we’ve done in the West. Don’t do it.

When I was a child (a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away), my favourite TV shows were The Amazing Adventures of Superman and The Lone Ranger. Did you have them in Kenya? Both were about the original superheroes. Superman was the Man of Steel, a strange visitor from another planet; bullets bounced off him. The Lone Ranger could shoot a gun out of a man’s hand.

Even now, decades later, I can still remember the beginning of each episode of The Lone Ranger:

“Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear! From out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again.”

Well, apologies to the masked man and his faithful Indian companion, but those days of yesteryear often weren’t that thrilling. In antiquity, they were frequently barbaric, bloody and brutal.

Think back 3,000 years — to a world of city states and empires, slavery and savage spectacles.

It was a time when human sacrifice, infanticide and the carnage of the arena were commonplace.

Peoples as diverse as the Carthaginians, Etruscans, Canaanites, Aztecs and Hawaiians sacrificed adults or infants to appease their gods, to ward off natural disaster, and to assure good harvests or victory in battle. In Carthage between 800 BC and 146 BC., it’s estimated that 20,000 babies were ritually sacrificed.

Infanticide was also common. Infants who were sickly or deformed were often left to die from exposure or to be eaten by wild animals. Even the Greek philosopher Aristotle approved of the practice.

The Romans preferred bloodshed in the arena, in gladiatorial contests or the execution of criminals or prisoners of war. To celebrate his conquest of Dacia (modern day Romania), the Emperor Trajan had 123 days of games, in which more than 9,000 gladiators fought.

In Rome, a father had absolute authority over his household, including the right to disinherit, sell or even kill any of his children.

All of that started to change 3,000 years ago with the giving of the Law at Sinai, including what are commonly known as the Five Books of Moses. According to Jewish tradition, half-a-million souls were there to hear the voice of God, amidst the fire and smoke.

Sinai was the beginning — the beginning of Western Civilisation. All of us, Christians and Jews, trace our roots there.

From Sinai came the Promised Land — more than 1,000 years chronicled in the Bible. From Sinai came the kings and prophets. Judaism and Christianity started there. (Without Passover, there would have been no Easter.)

The Jews eventually went into exile and their morality was spread into Europe and eventually worldwide by Christians through what came to be known as Judeo-Christian ethics.

The United States Declaration of Independence proclaims that certain truths are “self-evident” (meaning obviously true, requiring no proof) — “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” All of these truths were revealed at Sinai.

But the aforementioned rights aren’t “self-evident.” They weren’t self-evident in the United States, for the first 85 years of our national existence, when we had the institution of slavery in certain parts of our country.

In the ancient world, power flowed from the ruler down to a favoured few. The poor and powerless were inconsequential — objects to be used and disposed of by others. If you told them that the peasant grubbing in his field had inalienable rights, they would have stared at you in dumb disbelief.

Not until Sinai did the concept of human rights appear. The Torah/Bible tells us that God created man “in His image,” and that as He is holy, we are to be holy, including treating others as individuals having God-given rights, not as objects to satisfy our desires — to be used and disposed of.

The Mishna (which is part of what we call the Oral Law) says:

“Therefore, Adam was created singly, to teach us that whoever destroys a single life in Israel is considered by Scripture to have destroyed the whole world, and whoever saves a single life… is considered … to have saved the whole world.”

Two of God’s chief attributes are justice and mercy. If we are to emulate Him, we must ask ourselves: Is abortion just? Is abortion merciful? Or is it a denial of God and a reversion to human sacrifice — this time to an idol called “choice”?

To give you an idea of Sinai’s profound influence on America, on the doors leading to the Supreme Court’s chamber, there’s a carving representing twin tablets with the Roman numerals 1 through 10. Sometimes, guides tell visitors that they represent the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution. Nonsense. In reality, they are there to remind us of a much older code of law on which our own is based.

Governments change. Fashions change. Political philosophies come and go. The vision of Sinai is unchangeable. It is for all peoples, at all times, in all places. The nations and the societies that adhere to it prosper. Those that do not fall by the wayside or fade to oblivion.

Today, the vision of Sinai is challenged by another vision. In place of light, there is growing darkness. During the Second World War, Winston Churchill warned that a Nazi victory would herald “a new Dark Age made more sinister and perhaps more protracted by the lights of perverted science.”

My friends, does that not perfectly describe what’s happening today, when killing children in utero is called a human right?

When abortion was legalised in the United States, through the subterfuge of Roe v. Wade, the great Talmudist Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik predicted, “If you kill a fetus, a time will come when even infants will be killed.” Many of us saw it coming.

In the West, we’ve gone from abortion to infanticide to euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide. The party of the President of the United States, which has the audacity to call itself Democratic, embraces abortion for any reason, or none at all — abortion up to the moment of birth, and even beyond it to include a newborn lying on an operating table.

Instead of affirming our common humanity, because we all were made in the image of God, increasingly, we play God with the lives of others.

Instead of acknowledging the sovereignty of the God of the Bible and doing homage to Him, we worship the gods of personal autonomy, of freedom divorced from values, of secularism and of choice. But be warned, does not the Bible say:

“If you turn your back on Me, on that day, I will hide my face from you.”

And what has it brought us?

Last year, there were 42.6 million abortions worldwide, which — according to the World Health Organization — is more than all of the deaths from cancer, malaria, AIDS and COVID-19 combined. This works out to 125,000 abortions a day. Annually, it’s more than twice the number of military casualties in World War II, the bloodiest conflict in human history — not spread over 6 years, but every year.

There’s a price to pay for this carnage. There’s always is a price to pay. This time, it’s in the coin of declining fertility, which some of us have come to call Demographic Winter.

Since the 1960s, worldwide, the fertility rate (the number of children the average woman will have in her lifetime) has been cut in half. In the United States, we now have the lowest fertility rate on record, 1.82, compared to about 3 during the postwar Baby Boom. But this is nothing compared to Europe, where the total fertility rate is 1.5 — way below replacement. Overall, Africa seems to be the only continent where people are still having children, and even here family size is declining.

Sometime in this century, perhaps before the year 2050, the world’s population will stop growing and begin declining. Once that starts, the rate of decline will accelerate.

The children who weren’t born today won’t have children or grandchildren of their own. Very soon, we will begin running out of people. Where will we find the farmers to grow our food, the workers to run our factories, the doctors and nurses to heal us, the teachers to educate our children, the police to keep us safe, the soldiers to guard our borders — in other words, all of the people needed to keep society functioning?

You can have a functioning society without domestic energy production, natural resources or arable land. You can’t without people.

And still we’re aborting 42 million people a year worldwide. Instead of abortion and contraception, we should be encouraging procreation and facilitating large families. Think of what the money we spend on abortion would buy if invested in clean water, disease control, better nutrition, and maternal health in developing nations.

There’s a saying that was popular with my generation: “What goes around comes around.” In The Brothers Karamazov, the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote:

“Without God all things are permitted.”

What things? Things like ethnic cleansing, like slave labour, like planned famines, like Auschwitz. The death camps of World War II weren’t built with bricks and mortar and barbed wire alone. They were built with ideas.

Deuteronomy 30:19 admonishes:

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you
that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.
Now choose life, so that you may live, you and your children.”

This applies not only to individuals, but to nations and civilisations as well. Where are the Babylonians, the Persians and the Phoenicians — the ancient Greeks, and Romans and the Egyptians who built the pyramids? In the words of Mark Twain, they have “faded to dream stuff and passed away.”

You choose life and you get life, including living descendants. You choose death and you get death. That’s fair, isn’t it?

For more than half-a-century, we in the West have chosen death — death by abortion, death by euthanasia, and death by rapidly falling fertility (due to a refusal to marry and have children).

The choice before us is stark — blessings or curses, life or death, law or chaos, Sinai or savagery and — eventually — oblivion.

[Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels]

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