Numbers Count

by B. Olidort

July 26, 2007

In an interesting news item published by the University of Manchester, a recent study finds that the ultra-Orthodox Jewish population will constitute a majority of Jews by the year 2050.

The study looked at population growth in the United Kingdom, with similar patterns confirmed for Israel and the United States, showing that every 20 years, the ultra-Orthodox population doubles in size.

That’s not enough, though, to turn the almost negative growth rate of the Jewish population around, any time soon. For that to happen, larger families may well need to start showing up among a much wider Jewish demographic. Maybe that’s why the Lubavitcher Rebbe granted so many the blessing of children, and encouraged the desire for large families.

Jewish continuity, he insisted, depended on Jewish children first.

But the concern is broader yet. From a Jewish perspective, ensuring positive human population growth is a moral imperative. “Be fruitful and multiply” is the particular mitzvah given to the Jewish people.  But the Torah applies the mitzvah to populate the earth with human life, to humankind at large.

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