RSS
The woman who upheld her vow of silence... during childbirth
An Orthodox Jewish woman in Israel puts her faith to the ultimate test, keeping mum throughout the entire scream-inducing process
Having a baby often involves hours of back-breaking labor, which one Orthodox Jewish woman reportedly got through without uttering a word to even the paramedics, per her vow of silence.
Having a baby often involves hours of back-breaking labor, which one Orthodox Jewish woman reportedly got through without uttering a word to even the paramedics, per her vow of silence.
Thinkstock/Hemera
E

ven if you didn't believe the rumor that in 2005 Tom Cruise, a committed Scientologist, forced Katie Holmes to keep silent while she gave birth to their daughter, the very idea probably gave you pause. The ability to go through hours, sometimes days, of back-breaking labor without uttering a peep seems impossible. In fact, screaming during labor serves a medical purpose: "Scientists have proven that there is actual pain relief to be had when we swear or shout," says Jeanne Sager at The Stir. But one woman in Jerusalem has reportedly said no to noise during labor. Here, a guide to her strange ordeal:

Why did she keep silent?
The woman, an Orthodox Jew, had taken a vow of silence, pledging not to speak until the end of the Shabbat on Saturday night. She refused to even tell anyone when she started labor, and gave birth alone in her house on Saturday morning. No one knew the baby had been born until her husband returned to the house later that day.

What happened after the birth?
The woman reportedly hid her baby, still attached by an umbilical cord, under her dress, and dumped the placenta in a bag. She refused to speak to anyone, including the paramedics when they arrived. (The paramedics were alerted only when the husband went back to the synagogue to ask the rabbi for a blessing.) An impromptu rabbinical council released her from her vow, but she doggedly refused to open her mouth.

Did she finally go to a hospital?
Yes. The family's rabbi called the police, who restrained the woman while paramedics cut the cord and rushed the baby to the hospital. The mother came along, and by the time she arrived at the hospital the Shabbat had ended, allowing her to speak once more. The baby is reportedly fine, thought "there is no word... on the physical and mental health of the mother," says Failed Messiah

Sources: Failed MessiahHaaretz, Huffington PostSlate, The Stir

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week