If a man had to choose, which should he choose: relations with a non Jewish woman or wasting seed?

Someone told me that he was taught that relations with a non Jewish woman should be chosen (that is what his Rabbi taught him).

But I can not find anything on this subject

Is he correct? Source please

  • 6
    neither, how is that a choice a ben Torah should be making?
    – Dude
    May 15, 2016 at 2:50
  • 1
    not familiar with that tosfor. one of the big things which makes a person different from an animal is the ability to control impulses and desires
    – Dude
    May 15, 2016 at 2:54
  • 7
    Doesn't relations with a non Jewish woman include the aveira of waiting seed?
    – user613
    May 15, 2016 at 6:59
  • 6
    Be'er Moshe has a tshuva like this, he was asked what's worse, sleeping with a single Jewish girl who went to the mikvah or sleeping with a nonjewish girl. He refused to answer because he was afraid the asker was just going to try to make himself feel better by choosing the lesser of two evils. The asker wrote back to say that was indeed the case and the fact that the Rabbi refused to answer him helped get the message across and he did not in fact sin.
    – user6591
    May 15, 2016 at 22:14
  • 8
    I find it disappointing how many down-votes are given to a question that is addressed by the Poskim (at least tangentially). The down-vote isn't there for you to make a political statement.
    – Yirmeyahu
    May 16, 2016 at 3:30

6 Answers 6


This topic is largely treated in Talmudic books.

We are going to start with a Mishna in Sanhedrin 9, 6

וְהַבּוֹעֵל אֲרַמִּית, קַנָּאִין פּוֹגְעִין בּוֹ .‏
Or cohabits with a heathen [lit. syrian {Aramean}] woman, he is punished by zealots.
One see that in some circumstances, not treated in this post, man involved in intimate relation with a non-Jewish women is punishable by zealots. If he is punishable, one can assume that he broke the law. So what is the problem for a Jewish man who is involved in intimate relationship with a non-Jewish woman? Bartenura said:
אֲבָל עָנְשׁוֹ מְפֹרָשׁ עַל פִּי נָבִיא, יַכְרֵת ה' לָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂנָּה. וּמַלְקִין אוֹתוֹ אַרְבַּע מַלְקֻיּוֹת מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים, מִשּׁוּם נִדָּה, מִשּׁוּם שִׁפְחָה מִשּׁוּם נָכְרִית, מִשּׁוּם זוֹנָה‏
His punishment was spelled out in the book of Malachi (Mal'achi 2, 12): "May the LORD cut off to the man that doeth this", and we punish him by four flagellations for rabbinic prohibitions: Nidda, Slave, Stranger, Prostitute (if he is Cohen),
It's seems not current to find a "Kareth" in Prophet book that is not found in Pentateuch. In Gemara, we see that Amorayim have great difficulties getting a verse for the prohibition. As summarized in the Bartenura, the standing hypothesis is the verse in Mal'achi. The Rabbinical Prohibition entered into force on a Rabbinical Court at time of Chashmonaym. There are four rabbinical prohibitions whose initials are 'נשג"ז' (N.Sh.G.Z.).

We shall proceed to consider Halacha. Firstly Rambam

I will try to select only the parts of the Halacha treating a kind of relationship based on sexual drive only, without any cohabitation contract. The begining of the 12th chapter of Hilchot Issure Biah.

Look only on bold characters

Halacha 2

The Scriptural prohibition applies only to marital relations. When, by contrast, one engages in relations with a gentile woman with a licentious intent, he is given "stripes for rebellious conduct" according to Rabbinic Law. [This is a] decree,

lest this lead to marriage.

If [a Jew] designates [a gentile woman] for licentious relations, he is liable for relations with a niddah, a maid-servant, a gentile woman, and a licentious woman. If he did not designate her for himself, but instead, [engage in relations with her] spontaneously, he is only liable for relations with a gentile woman. All of these liabilities are Rabbinic in origin.

Halacha 6

... a person who shares intimacy with a gentile woman is considered as if he married a false deity, as the verse states: "engaging in relations with the daughter of a foreign god." And he is called one who "desecrated that which is sacred to God."

Halacha 7

Although this transgression is not punishable by death penalty by the court, it should not be regarded lightly, for it leads to a detriment that has no parallel among all the other forbidden sexual relationships....

Halacha 8

This matter causes one to cling to the gentile nation from whom the Holy One, blessed be He, has separated us, and to turn away from following God and to betray Him.

There's a strong contrast between the lightness of the sin and the severity of consequences. Rambam explains clearly that the problem is the risk for this open relationship to result in a marriage. Each of us is aware of cases. Cases are frequent. This is described as leading to a detriment that has no parallel among forbidden sexual relations. The message is that this is a trap. All intimate relation of this kind lead potentially to assimilation. The Shulchan Aruch E.H., [1](https://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/71266/which-to-choose-relations-with-a-non-jewish-woman-or-wasting-seed), [2](https://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/71266/which-to-choose-relations-with-a-non-Jewish-woman-or-wasting-seed) is similar.

The problem of wasting seed.

Gemara Nidda 13a

דא"ר יוחנן: כל המוציא שכבת זרע לבטלה ‏ חייב מיתה, ‏ שנאמר (בראשית ל"ח) וירע בעיני ה' (את) אשר עשה וימת גם אותו.

רבי יצחק ורבי אמי אמרי: כאילו שופך דמים שנאמר (ישעיהו נ"ז) הנחמים באלים תחת כל עץ רענן שוחטי הילדים בנחלים תחת סעיפי הסלעים, אל תקרי שוחטי אלא סוחטי.

רב אסי אמר: כאילו עובד עבודת כוכבים, כתיב הכא תחת כל עץ רענן וכתיב התם (דברים יב) על ההרים הרמים ותחת כל עץ רענן.‏

A verse was put in evidence, Genesis 38, 10:

וַיֵּ֛רַע בְּעֵינֵ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֑ה וַיָּ֖מֶת גַּם-אֹתֽוֹ:‏
And the thing which he did displeased the Lord; therefore he slew him also.
After first reading, I would argue that the problem is Contraception. He opted for marital relations without "reproduction". Chazal explain that he used the method called nowadays "Withdrawal method". This method has two consequences: Avoid insemination, extra-corporeal ejaculation ("on tree and rock").

Contextualization after contextualization

At beginning, Gemara is commenting the sentence of Mishna "Every hand that makes frequent examination in the case of men it ought to be cut off". It is against this background that we must view the sentence of Rabbi Yochanan. Nothing to do with contraception. Rambam Issure Bia 21, 18, HERE reports this sentence on halachot. And in the next sentence he address an other issue, marrying a prepubescent wife:

It is forbidden to release sperm wastefully. Therefore a person should not enter his wife and ejaculate outside of her. A man should not marry a minor who is not fit to give birth.

Those who, however, release sperm with their hands, beyond the fact that they commit a great transgression...

See Mesharet Moshe. He said that poskim made a difference between wasting seed and spousing a non-fertile wife: The second is only an annulment of Mitsvat Piria Verivia.

See Rambam. See in Sefer Nishmat Avraham EH 23 in name of R.S.Z. Aurbach that obviously Rambam and Rabenu Tam do not consider this sin as Scriptural, and so there is no Macat Mardut. But Rabbi Moshe Feinstein does not agree and considers it as a Scriptural Sin.

To see the problem as a choice between two averot is perhaps not a real problem. To make a sin can not protect against another (the case in Sefer Chassidim is a rare exception for short term resolution). We can say without missing that a man involved in relations with non Jewish women is more dangerous for future, less prohibited for present.


I don't know if this is lechalach, especially since it expresses both as very bad in different ways, but the tanya certainly describes this at the end of chapter 7:

He explains that zera levatala is in one regard worse, because quantitatively, a person who sins such brings many more klipot ("bad forces") into the word than by forbidden relations.

Nevertheless, qualitatively, forbidden relations are worse in that (as explained by the Rebbe in a note) when one sins as such, by being with a woman he contributes vitality to a klipa, the female aspect of yesod. By zera levatala there is nothing to absorb vitality in the same way. Therefore, the level of teshuva required for forbidden relations is much higher than for zera levatala (because he must re-raise up the vitality that was absorbed).

Thus, on a basic level zera levatala is worse, but in another aspect forbidden relations are worse.

Honestly, I don't quite understand the above, except that both are quite bad, zera levatala worse on its own, except that the fact you are with a woman in the other case adds an extra level of polluting effect to that.

  • Assuming of course that non Jew falls under the same category as forbidden relationship, which I'm not sure about. But this as least gives you and idea.
    – andrewmh20
    May 16, 2016 at 7:51
  • It's... difficult to discuss halachic ranking by bringing in a source that deals in metaphysics, not halacha. If you were to quote the Shulchan Aruch HaRav, for instance, as evidence of a ruling by the mesorah of the Ba'al HaTanya, that would make for a more substantive argument. May 16, 2016 at 18:29
  • 1
    @Isaac Question was not restricted to halakha and site's scope is "Jewish law and tradition" Jun 24, 2019 at 14:00

If a man is in a situation where he is tempted by one of the Arayos (e.g. a married woman or a niddah) and he knows that he can withstand the temptation if he were to be motzi zera, a number of sources say that it is preferable for the man to be motzi zera.

The Bais Shmuel to Shulchan Aruch, Even Ha'ezer 23:1, cites the Sefer Chasidim for this ruling and appears to hold that this permitted because intercourse with arayos is a more severe prohibition. The Chelkas Mechokek and the Be'er Heitev give the same reason.

But the Chochmas Shlomo gives a different explanation for the heter. He argues that if the reason a person is being motzi zera is to prevent himself from violating a prohibition, then the hotzoas zera is not levatala. The man isn't wasting seed, he is using for the positive purpose of refraining from sin.

I think that the answer to your question depends on whether the halacha follows the Bais Shmuel or the Chochmas Shlomo. According to the Bais Shmuel it is likely that the man should not waste seed because hotzas zera l'vatala is a severe biblical prohibition and relations with a non-Jewish woman only involves Rabbinic prohibitions (most likely).

According to the Chochmas Shlomo, however, if the man is being motzi zera in order to prevent himself from falling into temptation with a non-Jewish woman, that hotzas zera is not a waste and would be permissible.

  • Your reference in Even HaEzer, is regarding arayos and not regarding a non-jewish prostitute. Apr 25, 2023 at 20:07
  • How can hotzoas zera not be levatala? You dont gets points for doing a mitzvah, if you do it by way of an aveirah! Apr 25, 2023 at 20:08
  • @MarsSojourner I noted that point that arayos is more severe than a non-jewish woman in my answer. Levatala means "for no productive purpose." Being motzi zera for diagnosi of fertility problems is not considered "levatala" because the ultimate purpose is to help the couple of children. Similarly hotzas zerah to be makayim the mitzvah of onah is not "levatala." The whole point of the Chochmas Shlomo is that this hotzaas zera is not levatala and therefore not an aveira at all. Apr 26, 2023 at 21:14

Neither. If he has the choice then he has the choice to make a Golem like the Brothers (Yosef's haTzaddik's brothers) were doing, and by that time with the knowledge and fear required he'd come to his religious senses.


I wanted to post an answer earlier but I figured I should check Otzar HaPoskim first. Unfortunately HebrewBooks only had volume one. So over Shabbos I popped into a shul that has the set. There was nothing there. Not even a mention of the B.Sh. and Ch.M. that @sam mentions in his answer. Very surprising. But I digress. Here's my thoughts.

Once upon a time I had the same diyuk as Sam gives in his answer. However, I think if we take into perspective the amount of enactments and safeguards Chazzal established to keep us away from having relationships with nonjews it would become very clear that having relations with a nonjewish lady can never be an option simply to avoid a different Rabbinic sin.

See the Mishna in Avoda Zara here and the connected Gemara here. There were enactments against their cooked food, their bread, their oil, their wine. There were enactments to treat their children as Zavim and Zavos from birth. Seclusion with them is not allowed. The list is huge. Originally there was an enactment not to charge them interest so as not to affiliate with them so we wouldn't learn from their ways. We can't go to parties they invite is to even when there is kosher food. All to keep us away from them. There were never any special enactments instituted by Chazzal to make sure someone is not motzie zera livatala. At least not that I'm aware of. I think this should prove to us which one of these sins Chazzal were more worried about.

  • Isn't that regarding MARRIAGE and not just having relations
    – hazoriz
    May 23, 2016 at 17:29
  • @hazoriz See the Gemara. Marriage is dioraisa, chashmonaim made a gezeira on znus. This was one option presented. But in any option the Gemara offers znus with a nonjewish lady is part of a bigger problem.
    – user6591
    May 23, 2016 at 17:48
  • @hazoriz in case I wasn't clear, I'm not choosing one lashon in the Gemara over the others. I'm pointing out from all the enactments as a whole their involvement with this issue and the extra care they took regarding it.
    – user6591
    May 23, 2016 at 18:11
  • are you not saying that because of one option you say that chazal was very strict regarding znus spesificly (and marriage)? (+1)
    – hazoriz
    May 23, 2016 at 18:27
  • 2
    "There were never any special enactments instituted by Chazzal to make sure someone is not motzie zera livatala." Actually the rabbis were concerned lest a person even come to hirhur; lewd thoughts. They also were concerned with acts that may lead to a nocturnal emission; kal vachomer to doing so deliberately...
    – mevaqesh
    May 23, 2016 at 19:21

Probably wasting seed [NOT deliberately], because there, if it comes out against his will, so he is an ones. As opposed to deliberately doing something that is forbidden.

  • 4
    Seemingly the question was comparing cases where the sins were either all on the same level of intent.
    – Double AA
    May 15, 2016 at 23:24
  • +1 but that was not one of the opinions
    – hazoriz
    May 15, 2016 at 23:28

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