04. Additional Halakhic Questions

If an unmarried young man has cancer and must undergo radiation therapy and other treatments that may permanently affect his virility, it is a mitzva for him to provide sperm prior to the treatment, so that it can be frozen and then used to impregnate his eventual wife. Even if he is too young to be contemplating marriage, once he has reached the age of thirteen he is obligated in mitzvot. To fulfill the mitzva of procreation, there is a mitzva for him to produce semen that can later be used to have children. This is not wasting seed, as it is for the sake of procreation. Even if the treatments might not render him sterile, in which case it will have been unnecessary for him to provide sperm, he still has a mitzva to do so in order to guarantee his future ability to have children and fulfill the mitzva. If he can provide sperm without touching himself, that is preferable; if not, he may stimulate himself manually.[4]

If a husband or wife is HIV-positive, then every time they have sexual relations, the spouse is at risk of contracting the virus. The only way to avoid this is to use a condom, which protects the healthy spouse. Some poskim rule that the couple may not have sexual relations, since regular condom use is considered wasting seed, and the couple must therefore divorce (Minḥat Shlomo 3:103:16). Others maintain that the prohibition of condom use is for its usual purpose, namely, contraception. However, if it is being used to protect the life of the husband or wife, they may use a condom, so they can at least fulfill the mitzva of ona (Aḥiezer 3:24:5; Igrot Moshe, EH 1:63; Tzitz Eliezer 9:51:2). Halakha follows the latter opinion.


[4]. As explained in n. 2, one may provide semen for the purpose of fulfilling the mitzva of procreation, though R. Bakshi-Doron prohibits it, maintaining that in practice, only a married man can fulfill the mitzva of procreation, since it involves having intimate relations. Since a single man cannot fulfill the mitzva, he is guilty of wasting seed if he produces a sperm sample (Responsa Binyan Av 2:60). Those who permit include R. Auerbach (Nishmat Avraham EH 23:2, n. 3), R. Ariel (Be-ohala Shel Torah 1:69), and R. Lior (Devar Ḥevron §33). Their primary rationale is that there is no prohibition of wasting seed when there is an important reason to do so. R. Daichovsky concurs, adding that the mitzva of procreation applies from the age of thirteen (Teḥumin 18). (I explained above, in 5:7, that even though we delay marriage to allow a young man to prepare by studying Torah and training for a job, the obligation begins at age thirteen,.) In my humble opinion, the young man is not merely allowed, but obligated to provide sperm. After all, we argued in n. 1 that the mitzva obligates a couple to have children via whichever methods are accepted. Since this is an accepted method, it is obligatory for the young man to provide sperm so that he can fulfill the mitzva of procreation later on.

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