Chapter: 04 – Safeguarding the Covenant of Circumcision

01. Male Masturbation and the Prohibition of “Wasting Seed”

God created human beings with a powerful drive for love and a mutual attraction between men and women. This drive, when guided by sanctity, serves as the foundation of the marital covenant and for the closeness of husband and wife, … Continue reading

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02. The Severity of the Sin

On one hand, the Sages greatly emphasize the gravity of this sin. They go so far as to say, “Whoever wastefully ejaculates seed is liable to be put to death” (Nidda 13a). They also state that someone who wastes his … Continue reading

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03. Two Aspects of the Sin

There are two dimensions of the sin of masturbation. On the surface, it is less severe than adultery and the other sins for which the Torah prescribes punishment, because, in practice, the damage caused thereby is not as grave. However, … Continue reading

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04. The Corrective for the Sin

Various correctives have been proposed for the sin of wasting seed, but the first and primary corrective is, of course, the corrective of the covenant (tikkun ha-brit), meaning that a man connects with his wife in complete love. The Sages … Continue reading

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05. The Prohibition on Things That Lead to This Sin

A man may not touch his penis, lest it lead to an erection and masturbation. When urinating, if he is concerned about splattering in the area or on his legs, he may aim by touching the corona of the penis, … Continue reading

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06. Sinful Thoughts: Two Prohibitions

Two kinds of sinful thoughts are prohibited: thoughts about adultery and thoughts likely to lead to nocturnal emission. The reason for both prohibitions is the same: they harm the sacred bond between spouses and divert elsewhere the desire that should … Continue reading

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07. Defining and Avoiding Sinful Thoughts

Regarding both types of sinful thoughts, the prohibition is to invest thought in the objects of desire and arouse lust toward them. However, a fleeting thought that inadvertently enters and leaves a man’s mind is not included in the prohibition, … Continue reading

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08. The Mitzva to Marry

A man who has already fulfilled the mitzva of procreation, even one who has been privileged to have many children, if his wife dies, there is a mitzva for him to remarry a woman who can still bear children, in … Continue reading

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09. Sexual Thoughts About One’s Wife

When a man’s wife is ritually pure and he intends to be intimate with her that night, he may think about things that stimulate his desire for her, for there is no concern that these thoughts will lead to a … Continue reading

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10. The Prohibition of Masturbation for Women

Women likewise may not stimulate themselves to reach orgasm. This is because sexual desire should be safeguarded for the enhancement of love and devotion between husband and wife, not for selfish gratification. However, for two related reasons, the prohibition for … Continue reading

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11. The Prohibition of Improper Thoughts for Women

Just as it is forbidden for men to entertain sinful thoughts – imagining themselves committing adultery, or (even worse) planning it – it is forbidden for women to entertain sinful thoughts, that is, to imagine themselves committing adultery or being … Continue reading

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12. Lesbianism

A woman may not sexually arouse herself with another woman, because sexual desire must be reserved for the sacred love between husband and wife and for fulfilling the mitzvot of ona and procreation. The Torah admonishes, “You shall not copy … Continue reading

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13. Male Homosexuality

The Torah commands: “Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman, it is a to’eva” (Vayikra 18:22). It further states: “If a man lies with a male as one lies with a woman, the two of … Continue reading

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14. Factors in the Emergence of This Urge

Many people think that same-sex attraction is innate and cannot be changed, and that therefore, a man with this tendency must follow it; certainly, no one should be criticized for doing so. In contrast, according to the Torah, even if … Continue reading

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15. The Mitzva to Marry

The Torah’s commandments apply to all Jews. Even men and women with same-sex attraction have a mitzva to marry, to fulfill the mitzva of ona with love and happiness, and to procreate. In previous generations, not getting married because of … Continue reading

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16. Must One Disclose Before Marriage?

If a man feels a slight, remote attraction to members of the same sex, but in practice successfully controls himself, does he need to tell someone he is dating about his inclination? If he is certain that he desires and … Continue reading

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17. The Torah’s Attitude to Those Who Commit Homosexual Intercourse

The Torah calls male sexual relations “to’eva” (Vayikra 18:22). The Sages explained the connotation of this word: “You are straying with it (to’eh ata bah)” (Nedarim 51a). In other words, the purpose of the sex drive is for husband and … Continue reading

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