As discussed here, wasting seed is not forbidden for a non-Jew.

Rashi to Bereishis 38:7 and Semak negative commandment 292 explain that Er and Onan died for that very sin.

If non-Jews are allowed to waste seed, why were they punished?

  • 1
    Rashi says clearly that Onan was דש מבפנים וזורה מבחוץ
    – Double AA
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 16:54
  • 3
    It's pretty clearly coitus interruptus, the classic method of birth control. Anyone living before a hundred years ago would recognize it, since that's pretty much all they had.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 16:57
  • 3
    Note your linked source is just the musings of a random internet user, so pretty weak as sources go.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 14:58
  • Check out Sanhedrin 59 for why back then may have been different.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 15:03
  • 1
    How Pru Urvu may have applied to Er and Onan but not Barack Obama or Donald Trump.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 15:16

2 Answers 2


Because Tamar consented to these sexual acts and marriages for the sake of procreation. Rashi points out that Er wasted seed because he wanted to keep her beauty, but as we learn from her marrying Onan afterward, and waiting for his brother even after he died, she wanted a child. So for Er and Onan to waste seed, knowing she is only allowing this sexual act for the sake of that seed, means they are raping her. It's like the reverse of the rape scenario of a woman consenting to sexual relations with a condom, and the man removing the condom mid act. When Er and Onan began pulling out to deprive her of child they were violating her consent, and therefore, violating her.


Option 1

First, "not prohibited" and "allowed" are not the same. This is similar to what Rambam distinguishes in Hilchot Shabbos - פתור vs מותר. The idea of "פטור - not prohibited" means there's no earthly punishment, but the deed is unwanted and therefore somehow accounted for/punished, whereas "מותר - allowed" means the deed has no bad consequences whatsoever and apriori.

Wasting seed is not מותר for non-Jews but פטור בדיני אדם and חייב בדיני שמיים. Therefore G-d has the right to punish for the misdeed.

Option 2.

Your [commonsense] assumption that G-d only "kills for punishment" is disputable. G-d's could have them killed ONLY to allow Tamar to unite with Yehuda.

As simple as that. Now you ask about the interpretors? It's just an אסמכתא as they couldn't find any other mentioning of W"S in the Torah.

  • 1. Patur, as used in Hilchos Shabbos, is very different than how it’s used elsewhere. In Hilchos Shabbos, it means “exempt on a Biblical level, but still liable on a Rabbinic level.” Elsewhere it means “exempt entirely.” If you can find a prooftext in another area of Halacha, I’ll reconsider that argument. 2. הצור תמים פעלו. Hashem could have found a way to make Tamar and Yehudah meet without anyone dying. If someone is killed by Hashem it’s because, for whatever reason, they deserved it. 3. The passuk clearly says that ער was “evil in the eyes of Hashem.” According to you, he wasn’t evil.
    – DonielF
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 21:08

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .