Philosophical Ruminations about Embryo Experimentation with Reference to Reproductive Technologies in Jewish “Halakhah”


Author: Piyali Mitra, Department of Philosophy, University of Calcutta, India

Published: October 14, 2017

Citation: Mitra, P. (2017). Philosophical Ruminations about Embryo Experimentation with Reference to Reproductive Technologies in Jewish “Halakhah”. IAFOR Journal of Ethics, Religion & Philosophy, 3(2).


The use of modern medical technologies and interventions involves ethical and legal dilemmas which are yet to be solved. For the religious Jews the answer lies in Halakhah.

The objective of this paper is to unscramble the difficult conundrum possessed by the halakhalic standing concerning the use of human embryonic cell for research. It also aims to take contemporary ethical issues arising from the use of technologies and medical advances made in human reproduction and study them from an abstract philosophical perspective. Instead of providing any Jewish practical ruling the paper have tried to incite, stimulate and encourage philosophical thoughts about the issue through the intensive understanding of traditional Jewish thoughts.

In this paper, an objective as well as a deep-rooted study has been adopted about the use of human embryos for research and the Jewish adoption of assisted reproductive technologies through the prism of the knowledge of Halakhah, Torah and Talmud.

The paper finds that the embryo research sits at the crossroads of many halakhalic issues. Judaism adopts the belief that God has created man in his own image. The Jews not being dogmatic decipher “the image” of the creator as the ability to discern and reason. It follows that Judaism does not subscribe to the notion that tampering with nature is prohibited. To the Jews the mitzvah for procreation is so great that they are open to reason and adopt newer medical advancement in procreation. The Jewish laws are not only for engagement in intellectual exercise or academic pursuit but subscribe to a higher order of moral conduct. The Jewish approach is not situational but also casuistic in resolving conflicting medical issues.


embryo experimentation, Judaism, human assisted reproductive technologies, philosophical considerations, theology, Halakhah