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I know that wasting seed is the worst sin in Judaism and a Jew who committed it is considered very wicked. Yet, I am not sure about wasting seed ? is it a sin or not?

I am a gentile wanting to convert to Judaism seriously, and I used to have this addiction, and I stopped committing it since almost between 3-4 weeks but sadly today I fell for it again, especially that I drank beer and I felt slightly intoxicated-not drunk though. But I didn't had the intention to get intoxicated. I know there is no excuse for sin no matter what.

Anyway, since I heard that the ones who desire to convert to Judaism may have a Jewish soul already, that means it might be a heavy sin if I committed it no matter whether it's a sin or not for a normal gentile.

Anyone knows?

P.S: I searched for similar questions in this website yet I couldn't find any.

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  • 1
    from what I remember it wasn't listed in Mishneh Torah amongst the sheva mitzvos bnei Noach
    – warz3
    Aug 14 '15 at 17:44
  • 8
    "I know that wasting seed is the worst sin in Judaism" Actually, that would seem to be Avoda Zara and/or Murder.
    – Double AA
    Aug 14 '15 at 17:57
  • 3
    @DoubleAA and what makes me concerned even more, is that I did read in a Jewish website that: " "Wasting seed is more severe then manslaughter, for here he is spilling his own blood and the blood of his children. In the Zohar parshas vyache it says all evil people can repent except those that commit this sin.""
    – mil
    Aug 14 '15 at 18:00
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    @DoubleAA Does that mean that there is no hope to be forgiven even if I did repent ?
    – mil
    Aug 14 '15 at 18:01
  • 6
    @mil True repentance atones for all sins.
    – Loewian
    Aug 14 '15 at 18:07

10 Answers 10

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One is not judged by the 613 commandments unless one is born Jewish or formally converts. A non-Jew could feel they have a Jewish soul, but may eat pork aplenty until converting. (In fact, non-Jews are not supposed to observe the Sabbath, which leads to some discussion about whether someone studying for conversion should somehow break his Sabbath observance for five minutes!)

As for whether it's included in the Seven Noahide commandments -- there's discussion about it, like there is about everything else -- but the simple answer is no, it's not on that list, and therefore it's not something to be concerned about. (See R' Aharon Lichtenstein's book on the Noahide Laws.)

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein OC4:116 (top of p. 208) writes that there is "no prohibition whatsoever" for Noahides (lo ne'esar klal), and that the story of Er and Onan was God meting out harsh justice for whatever reasons were appropriate at that particular episode (that particular story was rather complicated!), not the standard textbook punishment.

Rabbi Mendel Senderovic's Atzei Besamim EH#19 cites Rabbi Feinstein, and points to responsum Chavos Yair 108 and Tosfos Sanhedrin 59b in support of this position as well. (Yes, he also cites other opinions, but is inclined in this direction in his final conclusion.)

It is important to note that some language you'll find on this subject ("GREATEST SIN EVER!!! MURDER!!! NO REPENTANCE EVER!!!") is acknowledged (see for example the Feinstein responsum above) by poskim -- experts on the entire canon of Halacha who deal with lots of real-life questions across the board, not Internet pundits laser-focused on one subject -- as exaggeration, so please take what you read with a grain of salt.

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    So I understand from your comment about Pork that even though I may feel that I have a Jewish soul, it's still not a sin ?
    – mil
    Aug 14 '15 at 17:49
  • 1
    @Mil exactly. By law, unless you undergo conversion, you can eat all the pork you want. The "Jewish soul" thing is that some people may want to undergo conversion. But until that point, the only laws (and therefore the only sins) are the Seven Noahide ones.
    – Shalom
    Aug 14 '15 at 18:06
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    @mil - If you weren't born Jewish, the 613 commandments don't apply to you. Basically, when G-d said that, He wasn't talking to you. Whether or not you think you have a "Jewish soul", you were born into the religion that G-d wanted you to be born into.
    – Wad Cheber
    Aug 20 '15 at 16:24
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    Er and Onan had a status of bnei noach as they were before Matan Torah and that is the source of wasting seed which is considered killing the potential child which is why midah kneged midah they were both killed by G-d, and killing is one of the 7 noachide laws
    – user15464
    Oct 31 '17 at 0:01
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    #Shalom Please dont answer from the top of your head. Please give sources.
    – Rh Haokip
    Jun 5 '19 at 2:14
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The Tzitz Eliezer brings opposing sources in his responsa discussing whether Bnei Noach are 'neherag' for wasting seed. Either way it seems undesirable from the remaining sources that he brings i.e. the gravity of the sin of wasting seed from the Talmud and kabbalistic sources. He writes:

The response in Dovev Meisharim… writes that Rabbi Yochanan reasoned that also Bnei Noah are not neherag on transgressing [wasting seed] like an Israelite… which is not so according to the Rambam who holds (Hilchos Melachim, 9:4) that Bnei Noach are neherag for transgressing [wasting seed]...

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    Rambam Melakhim 9:4 doesn't mention wasting seed? I'm not sure your translation is accurate.
    – Double AA
    Mar 21 '17 at 12:01
  • What does the gravity of the sin of wasting seed have to do with whether or not it is desirably for those for whom there is no sin? Sleeping with a Niddah is a grave sin, but sleeping with you pure wife is not undesirable since there is not sin.
    – Double AA
    Mar 21 '17 at 12:03
  • עוברין means fetuses, not transgressing
    – b a
    Jun 5 '19 at 9:10
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Tosfos (Sanhedrin 59b) explains that the source for the prohibition to waste seed is from Pru Urvu; thus a Noahide would not be forbidden (because a Noahide is not commanded to procreate.

However Tosfos in other places (Chagiga 2b) implies that a Noahide is commanded in Pru Urevu [in accordance with the Sheiltos 165 and the pashtus of Yevamos 62]. Accordingly, the prohibition would apply equally to non-Jews.

If, however, the prohibition is from Lo Sinaf (see או״ז א-קכ״ד, סמ״ק רצ״ב), we are unable to extrapolate from a non-Jews' obligation of Pru Urvu. And although a non-Jew is also prohibited from adultery, we cannot compare it to a Jew's adultery, because they are derived from different pessukim, and therefore what constitutes 'adultery' by one would not be conclusive evidence for the other. [Like the parameters of murder are different for a Jew and non-Jew (abortion, for example), although both are prohibited from murdering.]

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  • Which Tosafos implies non jews are obligated in Pru Urvu?
    – Shlomy
    Apr 25 at 3:18
  • ד"ה לא תהו בראה . וז"ל: ועוד פרו ורבו אכולהו בני נח כתיב אף לכנען
    – chortkov2
    Apr 25 at 11:05
  • That's true.. everyone agrees bnei noach were chayiv in pru urvu. However the gemara sanhedrin 59b says that after matan Torah they lost it and it became a mitzva specifically for jews.
    – Shlomy
    Apr 25 at 13:03
  • Read Tosfos in context. Tosfos is explaining why slaves are obligated in Pru Urevu although women are not (and generally, slaves are only obligated in commandments which a woman has); Tosfos answers that they are obligated like Canaanites. This is after Matan Torah
    – chortkov2
    Apr 25 at 16:47
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    If you don't like the inference from Tosfos, see the Sheiltos here: (sefaria.org/Sheiltot_d'Rav_Achai_Gaon.165.1?lang=bi): שאילתא דמיחייבין דבית ישראל למינס' נשי ואולודי בני ומיעסק בפריה ורביה דכתיב קחו נשים והולידו בנים ובנות ולא מיבעיא ישראל אלא אפילו עובדי כוכבים מיפקדי אפריה ורביה דכתיב ואתם פרו ורבו:
    – chortkov2
    Apr 25 at 20:32
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According to Guard Your Eyes Rabbi Morgenstern (unsure of the source of what he says however):

There is a maklokes among the achronim on this question. Since there are those that say he is חייב מיתה for this transgression, if he wants to do Hashem's will, it would be appropriate to refrain.

https://guardyoureyes.com/articles/questions-and-answers/item/are-non-jews-halachically-permitted-to-waste-their-seed

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+100

You're asking a very difficult question... Tosafos Sanhedrin 59b explains the prohbition of wasting seed is from being mivatel the mitzva of pru urvu. According to this logic non- jews who are not commanded in Pru Urvu (after matan Torah) would be allowed to waste seed. However many Reishonim argue on Tosafos in Nida. They bring a proof from the mabul that the main sin they commited was wasting seed and the women got punished eventhough they're not commanded in pru urvu. However they themselves do no explain why it's forbidden to waste seed. The Mishna limelech also requires further research to why it's forbidden to waste seed. Since the reason even for jews to waste seed is unclear according to the reishonim that argue on Tosafos, it would be very difficult to derive if the prohbition applies to non- jews. However on a simple level, if the prohbition applied to the people of the mabul who were non jews it would seem to apply to non jews. It doesn't seem this would have changed after matan Torah.

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  • The main sin for the mabul was not that. Genesis 6:12: ki hishchit khol basar et darkho al haaretz. "G-d decided to destroy the world with a flood for all flesh corrupted their way upon the earth.” Rabbi Ehrlich suggests this corruption was the sin of humans and animals eating meat. After the flood, however, G-d granted Noah the consumption of meat as a concession.
    – Turk Hill
    Apr 26 at 17:35
  • @turkill the gemara in nidda 13a says one who wastes seed is like bringing the mabul to the world. Rashi there shows the sources that the mabul came from wasting seed.
    – Shlomy
    Apr 26 at 18:14
  • Rabbi Ehrlich disagrees. He felt that eating meat brought the flood because Adam and Eve are commanded to only eat plant food in the garden. The gemara says one who sins is like so and so and Ehrlich gives the real reason why the flood happened. The first is teaching a moral lesson while the latter is revealing a historical truth.
    – Turk Hill
    Apr 26 at 19:38
  • @Turkhill when one argues on chazal there's a million more interpretations you can say and then nothing can be proven.
    – Shlomy
    Apr 26 at 22:42
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    @turkill rashi on that pasuk brings the chazal that the animals intermingled with other species.
    – Shlomy
    Apr 26 at 23:42
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I do not know of any source that says what is the punishment for a non Jew for wasting seed. But I do know G-d does not approve it and dislikes it very much! Therefor a non Jew must also be very carful with this sin and any type of forbidden relations. If a non Jew has already committed the sin, his Teshuvah should be by not repeating the sin anymore, having regret and remorse, educating others about the severity of the sin and living a life of truth and honesty. Non Jews are not obligated to study Torah and some subjects they are prohibited to learn (only because spiritually it can harm them) but there are many other subjects that non Jews can and even must learn in order to know how to act as Noahides and also to know what G-d is expecting from them. Since a non Jew can not correct the sin of wasting seed by learning Torah, my suggestion is to support a Jew that does learn Torah and by that the Non Jew can benefit from the Torah the Jew learnt.

Rabbi Alon Anava has an excellent video for both Jews and non Jews regarding this. Here are some other videos with links below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rN6NVSU6Tjs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zD1SI6298nk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtdHt05vJZs&t=2s

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In page 451-452 of the Divine Code, it says:

Since this action is empty and corrupt, it is logical that it is forbidden. It is also expressly written in the Torah of Moses that it is an action that is evil in G-d's eyes, and it is therefore forbidden in the Noachide code.

The Sages taught that a man's semen is the strength of his body, his body's life-force, and light of his eyes, and if a man habitually ejaculates overly much, his body and his physical power are weakened, and his life span is shortened.

It appears clearly prohibited.

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It is absolutely a terrible sin for non-jews. God killed Onan, a non-jew for wasting seed. Torah scholars will always point out that one of the reasons God destroyed the world with a flood was partially because of the sin of wasting seed. It's included in the Noahide laws (of which there are far more than seven) under the category of sexual transgressions

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    About Onan, he was the son of Yehuda, it's as jew as it gets those days, and his sin was not giving his wife pregnancy. It's not clear that wasting seed is part of his sin. Jul 27 '19 at 22:49
  • @Alaychem is right. See my answer above. This sin does not refer to non-Jews.
    – Turk Hill
    Jul 27 '19 at 23:42
  • Welcome to MiYodeya Eliezer and thanks for this first answer. Can I recommend you take the tour to get a sense of how the site works? Also since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. See in particular the focus on sourcing your answers: since we don't know you, unless you provide sources to back up your claims, there is little reason to believe them. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Jul 28 '19 at 4:25
  • Where are your sources? Nov 24 '19 at 16:05
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Wasting seed is not the worst sin in Judaism. The three cardinal sins of Judaism are murder, immorality and idolatry.

From a Jewish perspective I would imagine that there is no prohibition for a non-Jew to engage in this activity.

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  • On your first para, I don't think this is so clear cut, see judaism.stackexchange.com/q/86916/11501
    – mbloch
    Apr 22 at 9:04
  • @mbloch The average assessment would view the penalty of the sin as an indicator of the severity of the sin. The sins I mentioned all carry a death penalty and are yehareg ve'al yaavor, wasting seed possibly carries a penalty of misah bidei shamayim (as per Igros Moshe) and is not yehareg ve'al yaavor.
    – The GRAPKE
    Apr 22 at 10:07
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Yes it is a sin for non-jews aswell. One of the biggest rabbi's in our generation (Rabbi Yaron Reuven) said it is, and so did the seven laws of noach (Law 5). Also it is considered murder.

Onan, the son of Yehudah, was killed for this, and technically he was a non-jew since it was before the Torah was given.

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    This answer would be much improved if you named and cited the Rabbi in question. Additionally, maybe you could point out which of the seven laws you are thinking about
    – mbloch
    Apr 25 at 3:09
  • Welcome to MiYodeya Torahlover and thanks for this first answer. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Apr 25 at 3:09
  • First off, Ron Reuven is not the biggest rabbi of this generation. Second off, it is not clear at all that the son of Yaakov died because of this. Lastly, Reuven mentor, Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi said it is not a sin for non-Jews but G-d frowns it.
    – Turk Hill
    Apr 25 at 23:33
  • Yaakov wasn't killed for anything. He died in bed, at the age of 147. (@sabbahillel) Neither were any of his sons killed for anything, to the best of my knowledge. Maybe you mean Er or Onan, the sons of Yehudah, who were the grandsons of Yaakov?
    – Tamir Evan
    Apr 26 at 2:15
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    When you say Law 5 (of the seven laws of noach), according to what order? Mishneh Torah, Melakhim u-Milckamot 9:1 has Gezel (thievery) fifth (as does chabad.org's The 7 Noahide Laws: Universal Morality). Sanhedrin 56a lists Shefikhut Damim (bloodshed) fifth.
    – Tamir Evan
    Apr 26 at 2:39

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