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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

How to Conceive a Baby Boy- Joy of Text 1:10

by Rabbi Dov Linzer (Posted on November 10, 2017)
Topics: Source Sheets, Halakha & Modernity, Sex & Niddah

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These sources accompany the (mini) tenth episode of the Joy of Text podcast.


How to Conceive a Baby Boy

  1. Babylonian Talmud, Niddah 31a   |    (.בבלי, נדה דף (לא
אמר רבי יצחק אמר רבי אמי: אשה מזרעת תחילה – יולדת זכר, איש מזריע תחילה – יולדת נקבה, שנאמר +ויקרא י”ב+ אשה כי תזריע וילדה זכר.R. Yitzchak in the name of R. Ami said: If the woman gives seed first, she gives birth to a male, and if the man gives seed first – she gives birth to a female, as it states: “A woman who gives seed and gives birth to a male” (Lev. 12).

2. Hippocrates, On the Generating Seed and the Nature of the Child 4-5

 (4) In the case of women, it is my contention that when during intercourse the vagina is rubbed and the womb is disturbed, an irritation is set up in the womb which produces pleasure and heat in the rest of the body. A woman also releases something from her body, sometimes into the womb, which then becomes moist, and sometimes externally as well, if the womb is open wider than normal. Once intercourse has begun, she experiences pleasure throughout the whole time, until the man ejaculates. If her desire for intercourse is excited, she emits before the man, and for the remainder of the time she does not feel pleasure to the same extent; but if she is not in a state of excitement, then her pleasure terminates along with that of the man…. The pleasure experienced by the woman during intercourse is considerably less than the man’s, although it lasts longer. The reason that the man feels more pleasure is that the secretion from the bodily fluid in his case occurs suddenly, and as the result of a more violent disturbance than in the woman’s case.

Another point about women: if they have intercourse with men their health is better than if they do not…

(5) When a woman has intercourse, if she is not going to conceive, then it is her practice to expel the sperm produced by both partners whenever she wishes to do so. If however she is going to conceive, the sperm is not expelled, but remains in the womb. For when the womb has received the sperm it closes up and retains it, because the moisture causes the womb’s orifice to contract. Then both what is provided by the man and what is provided by the woman is mixed together. If the woman is experienced in matters of childbirth, and takes note when the sperm is retained, she will know the precise day on which she has conceived.

3. Babylonian Talmud, Niddah 70b-71a    |     (.בבלי, נדה דף (ע:)-(עא

מה יעשה אדם ויהיו לו בנים זכרים? אמר להם: ישא אשה ההוגנת לו, ויקדש עצמו בשעת תשמיש. אמרו: הרבה עשו כן ולא הועילו! אלא: יבקש רחמים ממי שהבנים שלו, שנאמר +תהלים קכ”ז+ הנה נחלת ה’ בנים שכר פרי הבטן. מאי קא משמע לן – דהא בלא הא לא סגי. מאי שכר פרי הבטן? א”ר חמא ברבי חנינא: בשכר שמשהין עצמן בבטן כדי שתזריע אשתו תחילה – נותן לו הקב”ה שכר פרי הבטן. What must a man do that he may have male children? He replied: He shall marry a wife that is worthy of him and sanctify himself at the time of marital intercourse. Did not many, they said to him, act in this manner but it did not avail them? — Rather, let him pray for mercy from Him to whom are the children, for it is said, Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. (Ps. 127). What then does he teach us? That one without the other does not suffice. What is exactly meant by ‘the fruit of the womb is a reward’? — R. Hama son of R. Hanina replied: As a reward for containing oneself during intercourse in the womb, in order that one’s wife may emit the semen first, the Holy One, blessed be He, gives one the reward of the fruit of the womb.

4. Rashi, ad. loc.   |     רש”י שם

ויקדש עצמו – לשמש בצניעות.

שמשהין – להוציא את הזרע.

And sanctify himself – to have sex with modesty.

That they tarry – from ejaculating the semen.

5. Raavad, Ba’alei Hanefesh, Gate of Holiness     |     בעלי הנפש שער הקדושה

ומי שאומד את עצמו שיוכל לעשות כך ולא תכנס עליו מחשבה אחרת, והוא משהא עצמו כדי שתהנה האשה מן המעשה ותזריע תחילה, מתכוין לעשות מצוה ועושה אותה והקב”ה נותן לו שכרו בבנים זכרים Someone who assesses himself that he can act thusly (“delaying on the womb”) and no foreign thought will enter his mind, and he “delays on the womb” so that his wife derives pleasure from the act and gives forth seed first – such a person is intending to do a mitzvah and he is doing a mitzvah, and God will give him his reward with male children.  

6. Babylonian Talmud, Eruvin 100b   |    (:בבלי, עירובין דף (ק

ואץ ברגלים חוטא – זה הבועל ושונה. – איני? והאמר רבא: הרוצה לעשות כל בניו זכרים יבעול וישנה! – לא קשיא; כאן – לדעת, כאן – שלא לדעת.“One who rushes with his legs is a sinner” – this is a person that has sex and then repeats.  Is this really true?  Does not Rava state: One who wants to have all his children male, should have sex and repeat?  This is not difficult, here (where it is advised) – is when it is with [her] willingess, here (where it is considered a sin) is when it is without [her] willingness.