מלמד שאין השכינה שורה על פחות משני אלפים ושני רבבות מישראל הרי שהיו ישראל שני אלפים ושני רבבות חסר אחד וזה לא עסק בפריה ורביה לא נמצא זה גורם לשכינה שתסתלק מישראל
This teaches that the Divine Presence does not rest upon less than two thousands and two ten-thousands of the Jewish people, as the terms thousands and ten-thousands are both in the plural. Consequently, if there were two thousands and two ten-thousands of the Jewish people, less one, and this man did not engage in the mitzva to be fruitful and multiply, is he not found to have caused the Divine Presence to be depart from the Jewish people?
אבא חנן אמר משום רבי אליעזר חייב מיתה שנאמר (במדבר ג, ד) ובנים לא היו להם הא היו להם בנים לא מתו אחרים אומרים גורם לשכינה שתסתלק מישראל שנאמר (בראשית יז, ז) להיות לך לאלהים ולזרעך אחריך בזמן שזרעך אחריך שכינה שורה אין זרעך אחריך על מי שורה על העצים ועל האבנים:
Abba Ḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer: A man who does not engage in procreation is liable to death, as it is stated with regard to the sons of Aaron: “And Nadav and Avihu died…and they had no children” (Numbers 3:4). This indicates that if they would have had children they would not have died. Others say: He causes the Divine Presence to depart from the Jewish people, as it is stated: “To be a God to you and to your seed after you” (Genesis 17:7). When your seed is after you, i.e., when you have children, the Divine Presence rests upon the Jewish people, but if your seed is not after you, upon whom can the Divine Presence rest? Upon wood and stones?
מתני׳ נשא אשה ושהה עמה עשר שנים ולא ילדה אינו רשאי לבטל גירשה מותרת לינשא לאחר ורשאי השני לשהות עמה י' שני ואם הפילה מונה משעה שהפילה:
MISHNA: If a man married a woman and stayed with her for ten years and she did not give birth, he is no longer permitted to neglect the mitzva to be fruitful and multiply. Consequently, he must either divorce her and marry someone else, or take another wife while still married to her. If he divorced her she is permitted to marry another man, as it is not necessarily on her account that she and her first husband did not have children, and the second husband is permitted to stay with her for ten years. And if she had a miscarriage, he counts the ten years from the time of the miscarriage.
גמ׳ ת"ר נשא אשה ושהה עמה עשר שנים ולא ילדה יוציא ויתן כתובה שמא לא זכה להבנות ממנה
GEMARA: The Sages taught: If a man married a woman and stayed with her for ten years and she did not give birth, he should divorce her and pay her marriage contract, because perhaps he did not merit to be built, i.e., to have children, from her. It is not certain that their failure to have children is due to her, as it is possible that they are not a suitable match for bearing children.
אע"פ שאין ראיה לדבר זכר לדבר (בראשית טז, ג) מקץ עשר שנים לשבת אברם בארץ כנען ללמדך שאין ישיבת חו"ל עולה לו מן המנין לפיכך חלה הוא או שחלתה היא או שניהם חבושים בבית האסורים אין עולין לו מן המנין
Although there is no explicit proof for the matter that one must take another wife if he has not had children after ten years of marriage, there is an allusion to the matter, as the verse states: “And Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar…after Abram had dwelled ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to Abram her husband to be his wife” (Genesis 16:3). Incidentally, this verse also comes to teach you that the years spent dwelling outside of Eretz Yisrael do not count as part of his tally. Consequently, if he was sick during this period or she was sick, or if one of the two of them was imprisoned in jail, it does not count as part of his tally.
א"ל רבא לרב נחמן ולילף מיצחק דכתיב (בראשית כה, כ) ויהי יצחק בן ארבעים שנה בקחתו את רבקה וגו' וכתיב (בראשית כה, כו) ויצחק בן ששים שנה בלדת אותם א"ל יצחק עקור היה
Rava said to Rav Naḥman: Let us derive from Isaac that one may wait a longer period of time, as it is written: “And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah…to be his wife” (Genesis 25:20), and it is written with regard to the birth of Jacob and Esau: “And Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them” (Genesis 25:26). This indicates that one may wait twenty years. Rav Naḥman said to him: Isaac knew that he was infertile, and therefore there was no reason for him to marry another woman, as Rebekah was not the cause of their infertility.
א"ה אברהם נמי עקור היה ההוא מיבעי ליה לכדר' חייא בר אבא דא"ר חייא בר אבא א"ר יוחנן למה נמנו שנותיו של ישמעאל כדי לייחס בהן שנותיו של יעקב
The Gemara responds: If so, Abraham also should not have married another woman, as he was also infertile. Rather, the tanna requires that verse that states when Jacob and Esau were born for that which Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba taught. This is because Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Why were Ishmael’s years counted in the Torah, as they do not appear to be relevant to its narrative? In order to determine through them the years of Jacob, i.e., Jacob’s age at the time that various events took place, as explained in tractate Megilla (17a). The verse concerning Jacob’s birth was not meant to allude to a halakha about remaining married before having children, but to make it possible to determine Jacob’s age by relating it to the age of Ishmael.
אמר רבי יצחק יצחק אבינו עקור היה שנאמר (בראשית כה, כא) ויעתר יצחק לה' לנכח אשתו על אשתו לא נאמר אלא לנוכח מלמד ששניהם עקורים היו א"ה ויעתר לו ויעתר להם מיבעי ליה לפי שאינו דומה תפלת צדיק בן צדיק לתפלת צדיק בן רשע
Rabbi Yitzḥak said: Isaac our father was infertile, as it is stated: “And Isaac entreated the Lord concerning [lenokhaḥ] his wife because she was barren” (Genesis 25:21). It is not stated that he entreated the Lord for [al] his wife, but lenokhaḥ, which can mean opposite, against, or corresponding to; this teaches that they were both infertile. The Gemara asks: If so, why does the verse continue: “And the Lord let Himself be entreated of him”? The verse should say: And the Lord let Himself be entreated of them. The Gemara answers that their prayers were answered due to Isaac, because the prayer of a righteous individual who is the son of a righteous individual is not similar to the prayer of a righteous individual who is the son of a wicked individual, and Rebekah’s father was the wicked Bethuel.
א"ר יצחק מפני מה היו אבותינו עקורים מפני שהקב"ה מתאוה לתפלתן של צדיקים א"ר יצחק למה נמשלה תפלתן של צדיקים כעתר מה עתר זה מהפך התבואה ממקום למקום כך תפלתן של צדיקים מהפכת מדותיו של הקב"ה ממדת רגזנות למדת רחמנות אמר רבי אמי אברהם ושרה טומטמין היו שנאמר (ישעיהו נא, א) הביטו אל צור
Rabbi Yitzḥak said: For what reason were our forefathers initially infertile? Because the Holy One, Blessed be He, desires the prayers of the righteous, and He therefore wanted them to pray for children. Similarly, Rabbi Yitzḥak said: Why are the prayers of the righteous compared to a pitchfork [eter], as in the verse: “And He let Himself be entreated [vaye’ater]”? This indicates that just as this pitchfork turns over produce from one place to another, so the prayer of the righteous turns over the attributes of the Holy One, Blessed be He, from the attribute of rage to the attribute of mercy. Rabbi Ami said: Abraham and Sarah were originally tumtumin, people whose sexual organs are concealed and not functional, as it is stated: “Look to the rock