There is a saying, out of sight out of mind. Never did this adage apply more than with pregnancy. For so long we believed that the child’s is only influenced environmentally at birth. Now we know much better – influence begins well before, even from earliest stages of gestation. Paediatric medical journals are replete with scholarly articles and research on the effects of stress, alcoholism, drug addiction and more on the child to be. And the results are frightening.
- We know the baby in womb recognises the voices of her parents, responds to music, is affected by mother’s tastes and smells, and onwards. The home environment is particularly critical during pregnancy as it helps shape the personality and wellbeing of the child.
- This week’s Parsha, Toldot, recorded thousands of years ago, already notes this phenomenon well ahead of its times. Rivka, Jacob’s mother has a very difficult pregnancy with such pain that she wonders aloud why she even wanted to have children. The source of her pain is unusual movements of the fetus.
- The truth is that she is bearing twins and one twin wants to force its way out when she passes the ‘red light district of idol worship’ having a pre-birth tendency already in that direction, while the other exerts an equal and opposite force when she passes places of Torah learning and prayer, the fetus too displaying its innate tendencies. This tug of war plays havoc in Rivka’s womb.
- The result is the eventual birth of Esau and Jacob, and the rest is history as each displays its character-tendencies already evidenced prior to birth.
- What we also learn is the importance of mother’s environment during pregnancy. Ensure that the home is conducive to good character traits being sown at this early stage. Also, if mother leaves home, much better to pass by houses of prayer than casinos