Asexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by the lack of sexual attraction towards people in general. Asexuals may or may not be interested in romantic relationships, but are not physically drawn towards sexual activity. They may choose to live celibately, or to participate in sexual activity for practical considerations, so asexuality and celibacy are two very different things.

Is an asexual person obligated in the mitzvah of Pru Urvu despite not experiencing sexual attraction at all? On the one hand mitzvot are normally obligatory even when one does not want to perform them. On the other hand, perhaps the psychological damage that would be incurred by forcing this person to have children would exempt them. Furthermore, perhaps the commandment is contingent on the presence of sexual attraction in the first place, as suggested by an anonymous source here (the key claim is that "If a person’s psychological infrastructure was such that it didn’t attract him to women, he is not obliged to steel himself and live in a marital relationship in order to have children.").

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    Good enough to get my +1 now. Still, do you have any basis to suspect "perhaps the commandment is contingent on the presence of sexual attraction in the first place"?
    – Isaac Moses
    Dec 16, 2013 at 19:59
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    Good question. Still, +0: we need more information about the person you're asking about. 1. Are they married or single? 2. Does their lack of sexual desire cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty? (If so, it may not be simple "asexuality": it may actually be hypoactive sexual desire disorder or another diagnosable sexual disorder. Possible treatments may include couples therapy, sensate focus therapy, medication, and/or others. Here where I live, health insurance covers all sorts of sexual matters.) 3. Are they reluctant to consult a doctor and to consult a rabbi? 4. If so, why? Dec 17, 2013 at 7:07
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    There was some discussion on MSO about questions asked out of curiosity, with positive results. We've had other questions that aren't about a problem directly faced by the asker (like, say, about keeping Shabbat in space). This kind of inquisitiveness is, dare I say, a hallmark of Jewish study and I don't think that alone is reason to reject a question. As for the issues of individual variation (is this person married vs. single, etc), a good answer would address all the parameters that matter. Dec 17, 2013 at 22:36
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    @tealhill, if we understand that to be the standard, then combine that with all questions should not be seeking practical guidance because CYLOR, you can't ask anything on this site. Questions phrased as real actual problems get modified, downvoted and/or closed on this site. So what is left?
    – Yishai
    Dec 17, 2013 at 23:06
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    This question is based, at least in part, on the supposition that 'psychological damage' would result from this person trying to have children. Is there any evidence to support this or is it just speculation?
    – Jay
    Aug 25, 2016 at 23:33

4 Answers 4

  1. I would have thought that every Jewish adult is required to keep the mitzvah of pru urevu. No exeptions made!
  2. No-one has the right to inflict harm physical, emotional, or spiritual to anyone else just for the sake of needing to fulfill a requirement.
  3. Any g-d fearing person - with the right guidance - can enjoy the fact that he is engaging in a great mitzvah, no less then putting on tefilin which must be done with great simcha [Devorim 28 47]. Many Tzadikim would do what ever they could in order not to have physical benefit from thier physical relationships [see Rashi Bereishis 12 11, Shulchon Oruch OC 240 8], yet they still basked in the enjoyment of engaging in many the great mitzvos they are doing, Vesimach, Onah, Pru Urevu, Sheves.
  4. on a practical note, he should check that he is physically able to...
  5. obviously as previously mentioned, a visit to a doctor or mental health adviser, would be a good idea.
  6. whats the guys name and mothers name so we can daven for him!
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    I would have thought that every Jewish adult is required to keep the mitzvah of pru urevu. No exeptions [sic] made! This baseless assumed answer is not very valuable.
    – mevaqesh
    Sep 25, 2016 at 17:57
  • To clarify, the OP already noted that there is generally an obligation, but did not consider that sufficient proof. This adds nothing to the OP.
    – mevaqesh
    Sep 25, 2016 at 18:31

Yes it seems he is obligated

Since I did not see any source that relations have to do with his wants

The opposite I see that he is obligated to fullfill his wife's conjugal rights even if he is not attached at that time (she has no obligation to seduce him, (but a man can not rape his wife he needs to seduce her if he wants to have relations with her))

And It seem that sometimes it is advisable to marry even an ugly women (in my understanding without attraction) (see page 394)

And there is no leagal problem to marry a girl you do not want (for other reasons)

From Shulchan aruch even ezer 1.3 it seems that by sefardim thier Bais Din needs to force men to get married even if they do not want to (if a man is forced to make kedushin it is counted)

If I remember correctly that when a wife tries to seduce her husband it is good for him to have relations with her (even if her seduction is not working, he should force himself)

The opposite this person is a tzadik his yetser horo does not control him so he can do the mitzvah lishma (just for Hashem (to fullfill his will)) without alternate motives

Please explain what psychological damage you are referring to,
to me it seems psychologically healthy to act meaningfully (by fulfill a commandments)

  • Yes it seems he is obligated Since I did not see any source that relations have to do with his wants לא מצאנו אינו ראיה.
    – mevaqesh
    Sep 25, 2016 at 17:56
  • @mevaqesh so everything is oser until you have a heter? Or it you do not know it is oser you can do it as a reshus, (but probably you need to know the whole Torah before making much decisions)
    – hazoriz
    Sep 25, 2016 at 18:00
  • @mevaqesh but to be mevatel a positive commandment you need to find a source not the other way
    – hazoriz
    Sep 25, 2016 at 18:03
  • Perhaps you could claim that if you know a mitsvah exists and you don't know if an exception exists in a particular case you are obligated to act stringently out of doubt. However, you are conflating halakhic-theory, with the burden of proof necessary to answer a question.
    – mevaqesh
    Sep 25, 2016 at 18:12
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    @mevaqesh I bring sources with cases that are similar and the philological damage should be similar and still it seems there is a commandment
    – hazoriz
    Sep 25, 2016 at 18:27

Obviously, such a person should have a discussion with a mental health professional just to make sure they understand what's going on and how to cope with everything in their life. Similarly, when seriously dating s/he should make clear to a prospective spouse what to expect in this relationship. People can work out all sorts of things. (Maybe he can find a similarly asexual woman and their marriage isn't about physical attraction.)

The rule of thumb is that a person is exempt from a "yes-do" mitzva if it would cost him/her 25% of his/her assets. (E.g. is no woman in the world will marry me unless I pay $100k, and my total net worth is $200k, I'm not expected to get married.) There may be people out there for whom no fulfilling marriage can be found whatsoever, and the psychological toll of an unfulfilling marriage would be equivalent to losing 25% of one's assets, which would prompt this question. I can't make a blanket rule for every individual. It's all a question of how to apply that concept here.

I do think that if such a person spends some time contemplating what they seek in a relationship, finds an appropriate partner, and is open about their expectations, that they could likely make a marriage work without taking a huge toll on themselves (it may even be beneficial) -- that's my guesstimate for most cases.

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    If the ongoing cost of marriage and kids counts towards the 25% (as opposed to the immediate cost of the wedding, say) then no one other than the most extremely wealthy is obligated to get married.
    – Yishai
    Dec 16, 2013 at 23:55
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    @Yishai Presumably the marital satisfaction that most people get balances it out.
    – user3318
    Dec 17, 2013 at 3:01
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    @Malper, I'm not aware of an exception to that rule based on if you like the Mitzvah. People may choose to do it anyway, but that doesn't create an obligation.
    – Yishai
    Dec 17, 2013 at 13:42
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    1)I'm pretty sure that it is 1/5th i.e. 20% and 2)My teacher, a Rav, cited this general rule specifically with respect the the mitzvah to procreate so if it is worthwhile to discuss it's relevance with your Rav if need be.
    – Yirmeyahu
    Dec 17, 2013 at 16:39
  • Is there not an idea to spend everything to get married (to a bas talmid hochom)? So maybe marriage is different
    – hazoriz
    Sep 25, 2016 at 17:37

Are w talking about married asexuals, or unmarried? Lemaise, we haven't been concerned about making unmarried people fulfill prvi irvi since, when, centuries at least? The Remu says that we don't.

Married aces, OK. (And yes, there are plenty of them, some of them married to other aces, and some married to sexuals.) If the woman is ace, it should be entirely irrelevant to the halakhic question, because she's anyway not obligated in pri irvi, no?

So the real question is whether an asexual man is obligated in pri irvi, and hey, he's not the one who actually has to physically get pregnant.

So what's the issue, 15 minutes of sex, one or two times, that he might find anything between enjoyable to boring to repulsive (as is the case for plenty of sexuals, of course, in any given act of sex)? Nu? And today there's artificial insemination.

In other words, I think that the questioner doesn't really understand what asexuality is, and is still living with pre-1961 notions that sex and procreation are the same thing.

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