Obviously masturbation is a very serious sin. However, if someone has already transgressed that sin, does his status change vis-a-vis things like learning Torah or davening? Does he need to go to a mikvah before engaging with things that are related to kedusha?

  • Related question: How can I curb my sexual desire? – tealhill supports Monica Jun 17 '12 at 20:38
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    Is it just me, or should the title be edited? It strikes me as though the aforementioned act is done in the normal course of the day as in "what are the halachos after waking up" or "after eating". Anyone else? – YDK Jun 19 '12 at 15:54
  • @YDK Do you have a better suggestion? – Double AA Jun 20 '12 at 7:00
  • @DoubleAA I would put something like "how does one repent for..." or "how does one correct the sin of...", but I don't want to change it if I'm just being hypersensitive. – YDK Jun 20 '12 at 18:19
  • @YDK judaism.stackexchange.com/faq#editing – Double AA Jun 20 '12 at 21:58

Masturbation per se does not change one's halachik status at all, although it does generate an obligation to repent.

Ezra originally established that a man who is impure from any seminal emmision (not just masturbatory) cannot say shema, pray or say other blessings until he has gone to the mikva. However this decree was later rescinded, and the law and the popular custom is not to change one's liturgical practices if one is impure. (Shulchan Aruch OC 88)

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    "However this decree was later [rescinded], and the law and the popular custom is not to change one's liturgical practices if one is impure", true, but note that many do use the mikve for this purpose. (I've heard that the practice of using it daily comes from this, so that no one know when the, er, bather had an emission and when he did not. No source for that, though.) +1. – msh210 May 20 '12 at 17:10
  • @msh210 It's basically a straight up quote from the ShA. And IMO those who do use the mikva daily are a minority, so my point stands. (Also, AFAIK they don't hold of it le'ikuva ie they won't not say keriat shma if there is no mikva.) – Double AA May 20 '12 at 17:12
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    @DoubleAA isn't daily mikvah fairly standard amongst the majority of Chasidim? – yoel May 20 '12 at 17:16
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    @yoel I don't know. But even if it is, Chasidim are not the majority of Jews. Also, I'm under the impression that those who do will not skip keriat shema if there is no mikva available, so they don't hold of it me'ikar hadin. Furthermore, the Shulchan Aruch explicitly says נהגו so I feel secure saying it is the popular custom. See my discussion with msh210 above. – Double AA May 20 '12 at 17:20
  • @DoubleAA re: does not change one's halachik status at all how about the niddui? – Baal Shemot Tovot May 20 '12 at 21:39

In general, one's status does not change, and one should not feel that one is prohibited from learning or davening. That said, it is important to take steps to rectify this very serious sin.

Aside from the necessary steps for teshuva regardless of the sin, one should go to the mikvah as soon as possible - if one is not available, a shower will do - and recite the Tikkun HaKlali. It is preferable to do so in Hebrew but English works if one cannot read Hebrew. These ten psalms were set out by Rebbe Nachman of Breslev zy'a as a means by which to completely repair emissions outside of normal marital relations.

Beyond this, the Baal HaTanya recommends fasting, but in our day the amount of fasting required is not possible, so it suffices to give substantial amounts to charity.

If you are serious about avoiding this sin, there are many excellent resources available, including Guard Your Eyes and Bris Kodesh. Also consider installing a web filter such as K9 Web Protection.

Above all else, the main way to fight this is to get married as soon as possible!

  • I would just add that the shower would suffice is talking in a case when it is 9 kavim of water poured without any interruption. – sam May 20 '12 at 17:09
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    @sam Out of curiosity, do you know how long that takes in an average shower? – Double AA May 20 '12 at 17:10
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    @yoel I beg to differ. – Double AA May 20 '12 at 17:17
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    @DoubleAA a very valid point! – yoel May 20 '12 at 17:18
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    @yoel, It seems that you are prescribing specific tehilim to rectify this sin, as well as tzedaka and possibly fasting. I didn't see anything there about charata, vidui and azivas hachayt??? – YDK Jun 18 '12 at 23:33

Let me add a couple things, based on English-language responsa on the Institute for Dayanim website.

"Cleaning off Zera" says the principal halacha is that you can pray even with semen on your clothing. It adds that if you masturbated, it's "proper" to wash your bedsheets to remove semen. The responsum uses the term "proper", not the term "obligatory". Read it yourself and decide if washing them is really required or not.

"Contaminated Clothing" adds that washing items in the normal way is sufficient to deal with all halachic concerns.

The website doesn't specify who wrote each responsum. The site's responsa section's chief halachic editor is R' Yehoshua Pfeffer.


He is disqualified to serve as a witness in a beit din, or at a wedding. This is not unique to someone who masturbates, rather any person who has violated a torah law or a rabbinic law, and who has not repented, is disqualified.

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    A source would be nice. – Double AA Jun 22 '12 at 3:44
  • @DoubleAA: I read the general rules in Dinei Mamonot (available in English translation) by R' Ezra Batzri. The connection to masturbation specifically is my own inference from what he wrote about "wicked people" being disqualified from being witnesses, and the halachic definition of "wicked people". – Chanoch Jun 24 '12 at 2:58
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    Maybe try looking at Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 34:2 – Double AA Jun 24 '12 at 3:09
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    There are problems with categorically asserting this on such tenuous and unexplored grounds. Points of concern include: 1.) This sin does not carry a chiyyuv malkus, and some opinions hold that this would therefore not even cause a rabbinic disqualification. (It is questionable whether it literally carries a chiyyuv misa biydei shamayim, which itself might not be comparable to kareis in this regard). 2.) You did not specify that you were referring to a habitual sinner. 3.) It is likely that he would only be disqualified if a Beis Din explicitly disqualified him.... – Fred Jan 3 '13 at 6:34
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    4.) P'sulei d'rabbanan must be publicly declared as such (פסולי דרבנן בעו הכרזה), and the general condemnations found in Chazal for this sin most likely do not constitute hachraza. | These and other considerations should be properly addressed before making a sweeping assertion that has broad religious, social, and psychological implications. – Fred Jan 3 '13 at 6:45

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