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If a person has been diagnosed and confirmed by doctors as infertile, does the Issur of Zera Levatala still apply to them?

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  • The first step is defining the issur
    – robev
    Jun 7 at 16:54
  • There is no prohibition of זרע לבטלה (=futile semen) as man cannot decide whether semen is futile or effective. The prohibitions instead concern masturbation and the destruction of semen. The reader is left wondering whether the question is about both or only one of these prohibitions.
    – Moshe Wise
    Jun 8 at 15:53
  • @MosheWise Not exactly, it is prohibited to fantasize during the day in order to provoke Z"L at night. Niddah 10 IIRC.
    – Al Berko
    Jun 15 at 11:34
  • A great question, you may take it a step further to ask about all the prohibitions of ritual impurity related to semen.
    – Al Berko
    Jun 15 at 11:37
  • in general prohibitions do not change based on someone's individual characteristics when prohibitions themselves are not for individuals but are inclusive of everyone.
    – Dude
    Jun 15 at 15:18

1 Answer 1

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Minchas Chinuch 1:3

ואפשר אף לדבריהם דוקא בראוי להוליד אלא שאינו מצווה ע"ז אבל מי שא"ר להוליד כגון סריס אינו מוזהר ע"ז ויש להאריך בזה וצ"ע מיוחד.

The Shevet Sofer EH Siman 1 also says it is not assur

Divrei Malkial 5:157 also says it is not assur

The Sheilas Yaavetz 1:43 says it is assur

The Tzafnas Paneach Issurei Biah 21:9 also seems to say it is assur

There are many more shitos on each side of this machlokes, this is just a sample.

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  • 1
    What would improve this answer is a brief summary of the arguments on either side.
    – robev
    Jun 7 at 19:06
  • Also a note that there are other relevant prohibitions that could still be in place depending on the situation so every case needs to be analyzed carefully
    – Double AA
    Jun 7 at 19:12
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    @robev the simple reading would permit it, as the issur is due to it being considered like murder. That would only be if it was able to procreate. However, The Sheilas Yaavetz seems to say that from a kabbalistic approach it would still be a problem to be zoreh mibachutz. Furthermore, there is a debate of someone who is not commanded to have children (i.e. a woman) is allowed to be mashchis zera. If they are, then someone who cannot have children and is therefore no longer included in the commandment would also be permitted.
    – Chatzkel
    Jun 7 at 19:27
  • 1
    Thanks. I meant in the post itself
    – robev
    Jun 8 at 6:39
  • The argument for leniency for an impotent rests on Rabbeinu Tam's view that destroying semen violates the positive commandment to procreate rather than an independent prohibition. Rabbeinu Tam's view contradicts the plain sense of the Talmud and is rejected by most poskim.
    – Moshe Wise
    Jun 8 at 13:01

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