How does this text inform the Jewish attitude towards life? How do you know this text has been used in Jewish discourse?
Etz Hayim Humash English Ex. 21:22-24
When men fight, and one of them pushes a pregnant woman and a miscarriage results, but no other damage ensues, the one responsible shall be fined according as the woman’s husband may exact from him, the payment to be based on reckoning. But if other damage ensues, the penalty shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
Five Books of Moses Everett Fox translation Ex. 21:22
When two men scuffle and deal a blow to a pregnant woman, so that her children abort-forth, but (other) harm does not occur, he is to be fined, yes, fined, as the woman’s spouse imposes for him, but he is to give it (only) according to assessment.
New International Version (NIV) Ex. 21:22-25
22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
What is happening in our text?
What is the standing of an unborn fetus?
How do you understand the use of the word "harm"? Who could have been harmed but wasn't according to the simple meaning of the text?
How could this text be used as a legal precedent?
Philo, The Special Laws, III:XIX
But if anyone has a contest with a woman who is pregnant, and strike her a blow on her belly, and she miscarry, if the child which was conceived within her is still unfashioned and unformed אסוֹן, he shall be punished by a fine, both for the assault which he committed and also because he has prevented nature, who was fashioning and preparing that most excellent of all creatures, a human being, from bringing him into existence. But if the child which was conceived had assumed a distinct Shape in all its parts, having received all its proper connective and distinctive qualities, he shall die; for such a creature as that is a man, whom he has slain while still in the workshop of nature, who had not thought it as yet a proper time to produce him to the light, but had kept him like a statue lying in a sculptor's workshop, requiring nothing more than to be released and sent out into the world.
What does this text imply of the status of the life of the mother and the life of the fetus?
When, according to this, the fetus attains 'personhood'?
How does this text present a tension with the previous text? How can you solve that tension?
How does this text understand the formation of a fetus?
How could it be used to give guidelines regarding abortion?
In what way is a fetus likened to a pursuer (e.g. an assasin?)
Is this a fair comparison? Are there limits for this comparison?
Does this source contradict the previous sources? Why or why not?
How could this source be used as a legal precedent for prohibiting abortion?
But when He who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through His grace . . ." (Galatians 1:15, RSV).
"When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit…[saying] ‘As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy'" (Luke 1:41, 44, NIV).
"While they were there, the time came for the baby to born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son" (Luke 2:6-7, NIV).
Given that Christians have a narrative in which their savior is incarnated already as a fetus, it makes sense that they return to the word "harm" and read it differently - so as erase the tension between the Torah and their scriptures.
Responsa Tzitz Eliezer 13:102
[Asked if a woman whose fetus has been diagnosed with Tay-Sachs can have an abortion] It is clear that in Jewish law an Israelite is not liable to capital punishment for feticide.... An Israelite woman was permitted to undergo a therapeutic abortion, even though her life was not at stake.... This permissive ruling applies even when there is no direct threat to the life of the mother, but merely a need to save her from great pain, which falls within the rubric of "great need." Now, is it possible to imagine a case in which there is more need, pain, and distress, than the present one, in which the mother is confronted by the [prospect of a] suffering child whose certain death is only a few years away and nothing can be done to save it?
Etz Hayim Humash Halakhah L’Ma’aseh on Ex. 21:-22
but no other damage – Because the Torah demands only a monetary payment for the fetus in contrast to “life for life” for the woman, the fetus is not considered to be a full-fledged human being, and abortion is not murder (M. Oho. 7:6). It is, however, an injury to the woman; and as such, abortion is generally permitted. It is allowed only to save the physical or mental health of the mother. Many authorities, including the CJLS, permit abortion to prevent maternal anguish over the prospect of giving birth to a child with severe defects. Abortion is not permitted as a retroactive form of birth control.
Former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks – 2/2010 – D’var Torah on Mishpatim
Behind Jewish belief in Torah she-be-al Peh, the “Oral Law,” lies a fundamental truth. The meaning of a text is not given by the text itself. Between a text and its meaning lies the act of interpretation - and this depends on who is interpreting, in what context, and with what beliefs. Without an authoritative tradition of interpretation – in Judaism, the Oral Law – there would be chaos. To be sure, there were sectarian groups within Judaism – Sadducees, karaites and others – who accepted the Written Torah but not the Oral Law, but in reality such a doctrine is untenable…A foetus may not be a person in Jewish law, but it is a potential person and must therefore be protected. However, the theoretical difference is real. In Judaism, abortion is not murder, in Catholicism it is. ..It is fascinating to see how this difference arose – over a difference in interpretation of a single word, ason. Without tradition and all the sages meant by “the Oral Law,” we would simply not know what a verse means. Between a text and its meaning stands the act of interpretation. Without rules to guide us – rules handed down across the generations – we would be …..unable to even begin.
Tosafot (Sanhedrin 59a)
ועל העוברים דעובד כוכבים חייב, וישראל פטור?
(d) Implied Question: Why are Nochrim Chayav for killing a fetus, even though a Yisrael is Patur?
אע"ג דפטור, מ"מ לא שרי.
(e) Answer: Even though a Yisrael is Patur, he is nevertheless not permitted to do so.
מיהו קשה, דאמרינן בפרק בן סורר ומורה (לקמן דף עב:) ‘יצא ראשו, אין נוגעין בו, דאין דוחין נפש מפני נפש‘. אבל קודם שיצא ראשו, החי' פושטת ידה וחתכתו לאברים ומוציאה, כדי להציל את אמו.
(f) Question (Part 1): We have learned in Perek ben Sorer u'Moreh that once the head of a fetus emerges one is not permitted to as much as touch him (to save the mother), since 'One may not push away one soul to save another''. Before it has emerged however, the midwife is permitted to place her hand inside the mother's womb and cut its limbs apart, and remove them, in rder to save the mother ...
וכה"ג בעובד כוכבים אסור, כיון שהוזהרו על העוברים?
(g) Question (Part 2): Yet this latter case is forbidden in the case of a Nochri?
וי"ל, דהא נמי בישראל מצוה כדי להציל.
(h) Answer (Part 1): Here too, like we answered earlier, in the case of a Yisrael it is a Mitzvah to kill the fetus to save the mother.
ואפשר דאפילו בעובד כוכבים שרי.
(i) Observation: In fact, it may well be permitted even for a Nochri to do so.