Q. I hear that in China parents are punished if they have more than one child. Is there a Jewish view of this rule?
A. Decidedly. We would have not the slightest thought of introducing a similar law in a Jewish country or community. Admittedly, the Chinese have a major problem of over-population, which we do not have. Our problem as Jews is the opposite – under-population.
As far as we are concerned, the Torah clearly lays down the rule, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). The Talmud in Y’vamot (61) adds that this mitzvah applies both when a person is young and when they are old. Even someone who is divorced or widowed is duty-bound to marry again and hopefully to fulfil the commandment. When the Torah says, “It is not good for Adam to be alone” (Gen. 2:18), it does not only mean a young Adam but even a middle-aged or elderly one.
A Jew who says, “One child or no children for me”, is not fulfilling Jewish law and teaching. A Jew who says, “There are so many people in China or India, so why should I add to the world population?” has his own Jewish problems to solve. It is not his task to sort out the Chinese or Indians.