מְלַמֵּד שֶׁאֵין הַשְּׁכִינָה שׁוֹרָה עַל פָּחוֹת מִשְּׁנֵי אֲלָפִים וּשְׁנֵי רְבָבוֹת מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל. הֲרֵי שֶׁהָיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל שְׁנֵי אֲלָפִים וּשְׁנֵי רְבָבוֹת חָסֵר אֶחָד, וְזֶה לֹא עָסַק בִּפְרִיָּה וּרְבִיָּה — לֹא נִמְצָא זֶה גּוֹרֵם לַשְּׁכִינָה שֶׁתִּסְתַּלֵּק מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל?! 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?
אַבָּא חָנָן אָמַר מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר: חַיָּיב מִיתָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וּבָנִים לֹא הָיוּ לָהֶם״, הָא הָיוּ לָהֶם בָּנִים — לֹא מֵתוּ. אֲחֵרִים אוֹמְרִים: גּוֹרֵם לַשְּׁכִינָה שֶׁתִּסְתַּלֵּק מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״לִהְיוֹת לְךָ לֵאלֹהִים וּלְזַרְעֲךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ״, בִּזְמַן שֶׁזַּרְעֲךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ — שְׁכִינָה שׁוֹרָה, ״אֵין זַרְעֲךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ״ — עַל מִי שׁוֹרָה? עַל הָעֵצִים וְעַל הָאֲבָנִים?! 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?
מַתְנִי׳ נָשָׂא אִשָּׁה וְשָׁהָה עִמָּהּ עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים וְלֹא יָלְדָה — אֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי לְבַטֵּל. גֵּירְשָׁהּ — מוּתֶּרֶת לִינָּשֵׂא לְאַחֵר. וְרַשַּׁאי הַשֵּׁנִי לִשְׁהוֹת עִמָּהּ עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים. וְאִם הִפִּילָה — מוֹנֶה מִשָּׁעָה שֶׁהִפִּילָה. 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.
גְּמָ׳ תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: נָשָׂא אִשָּׁה וְשָׁהָה עִמָּהּ עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים וְלֹא יָלְדָה — יוֹצִיא וְיִתֵּן כְּתוּבָה, שֶׁמָּא לֹא זָכָה לְהִבָּנוֹת מִמֶּנָּה. 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.
אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין רְאָיָה לַדָּבָר, זֵכֶר לַדָּבָר: ״מִקֵּץ עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים לְשֶׁבֶת אַבְרָם בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן״ — לְלַמֶּדְךָ שֶׁאֵין יְשִׁיבַת חוּץ לָאָרֶץ עוֹלֶה לוֹ מִן הַמִּנְיָן. לְפִיכָךְ, חָלָה הוּא אוֹ שֶׁחָלְתָה הִיא, אוֹ שְׁנֵיהֶם חֲבוּשִׁים בְּבֵית הָאֲסוּרִים — אֵין עוֹלִין לוֹ מִן הַמִּנְיָן. 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.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ רָבָא לְרַב נַחְמָן: וְלֵילַף מִיִּצְחָק, דִּכְתִיב: ״וַיְהִי יִצְחָק בֶּן אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה בְּקַחְתּוֹ אֶת רִבְקָה וְגוֹ׳״, וּכְתִיב: ״וְיִצְחָק בֶּן שִׁשִּׁים שָׁנָה בְּלֶדֶת אוֹתָם״! אֲמַר לֵיהּ: יִצְחָק עָקוּר הָיָה. 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.
אִי הָכִי, אַבְרָהָם נָמֵי עָקוּר הָיָה! הַהוּא מִיבְּעֵי לֵיהּ לְכִדְרַבִּי חִיָּיא בַּר אַבָּא. דְּאָמַר רַבִּי חִיָּיא בַּר אַבָּא אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן: לָמָּה נִמְנוּ שְׁנוֹתָיו שֶׁל יִשְׁמָעֵאל — כְּדֵי לְיַיחֵס בָּהֶן שְׁנוֹתָיו שֶׁל יַעֲקֹב. 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.
אָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק: יִצְחָק אָבִינוּ עָקוּר הָיָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וַיֶּעְתַּר יִצְחָק לַה׳ לְנֹכַח אִשְׁתּוֹ״. ״עַל אִשְׁתּוֹ״ לֹא נֶאֱמַר, אֶלָּא ״לְנוֹכַח״, מְלַמֵּד שֶׁשְּׁנֵיהֶם עֲקוּרִים הָיוּ. אִי הָכִי: ״וַיֵּעָתֶר לוֹ״ — ״וַיֵּעָתֵר לָהֶם״ מִיבְּעֵי לֵיהּ! לְפִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה תְּפִלַּת צַדִּיק בֶּן צַדִּיק לִתְפִלַּת צַדִּיק בֶּן רָשָׁע. 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.
אָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק: מִפְּנֵי מָה הָיוּ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ עֲקוּרִים — מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מִתְאַוֶּה לִתְפִלָּתָן שֶׁל צַדִּיקִים. אָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק: לָמָּה נִמְשְׁלָה תְּפִלָּתָן שֶׁל צַדִּיקִים כְּעֶתֶר — מָה עֶתֶר זֶה מְהַפֵּךְ הַתְּבוּאָה מִמָּקוֹם לְמָקוֹם, כָּךְ תְּפִלָּתָן שֶׁל צַדִּיקִים מְהַפֶּכֶת מִדּוֹתָיו שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מִמִּדַּת רַגְזָנוּת לְמִדַּת רַחֲמָנוּת. אָמַר רַבִּי אַמֵּי: אַבְרָהָם וְשָׂרָה טוּמְטְמִין הָיוּ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״הַבִּיטוּ אֶל צוּר 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