Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
Human Cloning & Halacha
Published: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 03:44:47 PM
Number of views: 2640

Human cloning is making headlines around the world, as something of a new phenomenon. But actually there was a human clone 5762 years ago. As we read in Genesis 2:21-22, “G-d cast a deep sleep on man and while he slept, G-d took one of his ribs and closed up the wound with flesh. And G-d cloned the rib that he had taken from man into a woman.” 

While the cloning of Adam to create Eve passed without controversy, they were after all the only two humans around; cloning has sparked worldwide debate over whether human cloning is ethically acceptable or a dangerous step beyond human limits.

The common criticism is that cloning constitutes ‘playing G-d’. The Vatican called for a total ban on the cloning of humans, with the Pope stating that human cloning undermines human dignity. But what is the Torah’s view on human cloning? We will prove from Torah sources that human cloning may be acceptable under Jewish religious law. Cloning poses to danger the distinction between G-d and man. Halacha and Jewish law must deal with the following questions with regard to human clones.

  1. Under what circumstances may human cloning be justified?
  2. Who is a clone’s parent, in order to fulfill the mitzvah of honoring one’s parents-one of the Ten Commandments?
  3. Does bringing a clone into the world, satisfy the first mitzvah in the Torah-“to be fruitful and multiply?”

Cloning would be permitted under Halacha, where it would provide a clear medical benefit-such as solving infertility problems. As the Mishna commentary, Tiferet Yisrael says, “Anything which there is no reason to forbid, is permissible, for the Torah has not enumerated all permissible things, only the forbidden ones.

Unlike the Catholic view which is against any tampering with nature, Judaism considers it a mitzvah to master & harness the forces of nature for the benefit of mankind. That mitzvah is in Genesis 1:28 where G-d tells Adam, “replenish the Earth and subdue and conquer the forces of nature”.

In this verse, G-d is commanding us to have dominion over the world and the animal kingdom for the benefit of man. Rambam in his commentary on the Mishna asks, “Why did g-d create thousands of species of insects and birds and so many species of animals, who needs all of this?”

He explains, that it’s all here only to serve and benefit mankind. Therefore, whatever we can use for the benefit of man, including cloning, is within G-d’s command to us in Genesis 1:28.

For example, an infertile couple who have been unable to have a child…theoretically cloning might provide the beneficial solution.

Infertility is an illness and G-d commanded us to cure all illness, as it says in Exodus 21:19- “RapoYerapeh”. Which means, the physician should surely heal in any manner that he can, which could also include ‘human cloning’.

The Bible describes G-d’s dual occupations as Creator and Healer. Our mission is to walk in his ways by creating and healing. We live in an age when the most exciting discoveries have been made in the life sciences, especially in the fields of molecular biology and genetic engineering. As with every new discovery, we must ask, “how does this new discovery of cloning, serve G-d’s purpose?” for the Talmud teaches, that everything was only created to serve G-d’s purpose and his glory.

Thus, to what end has G-d given man the ability to understand the genetic code and to develop the technology to produce artificial clones?

I believe that these discoveries provide us with a great medical benefit, which is to cure the illness of infertility.

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