"Sin of youth" (Heb. חטאת נעורים) is a phrase found in various places in the Tanach. (For example, Tehillim 25:7 and Shmuel I 2:17.)

I was told that in Tanya, Chapter 42, "sin of youth" is a euphemism for wasting seed. How true is this statement? (Sources, please.)

There is a soul that is of lowly nature and origin, coming from the lower gradations of the Ten Sefirot of Asiyah, which cannot discover G‑dliness by contemplation except with difficulty and forcefulness, especially if it had been contaminated by the sin of youth, for the sins interpose,... (as is explained in Sefer Chasidim, ch. 35).

[Quotation from Chabad.org, emphasis mine.]

If not, then what does "sin of youth" mean in Tanya?
(And if different then in Tehillim (above) what does it mean in the Tehillim?)


2 Answers 2


The Shalah says (in שער האותיות):

והיה הדבר נקל אם לא היה עושה החטא הזה רק פעם אחת, אבל בעו"ה מי שהורגל בחטאת נעורים במעשה כעורים ובא לכלל הוצאת זרע לבטלה הן מחמת הרהורים בתאוה או ניאוף בידים ועשה כן הרבה פעמים

Specifically saying that "sins of youth" means wasting seed. And since the Tanya is based heavily on the Shalah's work, that would be the meaning in Tanya as well.

In Shmuel it is the "sins of the youth" as in those specific younger people in the Mishkan. The sin is specifically spelled out in the verse - disrespecting Kodshim.

In Tehilim is a more generic phrase meaning my earlier sins (thus it is combined with פשעי - rebellious sins - see the Malbim there).

(And the Pele Yoetz you quote is certainly including wasting seed in the "sins of youth" he is just casting a wider net a bit about it to even include premarital relations between a bride and groom even if she is not Niddah. The Hebrew is בעון זה - with this sin (i.e. the bride and groom scenario) - וכזה חטאת נעורים - and like this, the sins of youth (thus including the sins of wasting seed he was just talking about prior). The English translation at your link misses the subtlety of the "this and like this".)

  • What does ובא לכלל mean (in the Shalah)
    – hazoriz
    Aug 9, 2017 at 17:57
  • I know your name is hazoriz, but it might be worthwhile not to accept answers so quickly, even if they do answer your question, in case someone comes later with a better one. Personally I tend to wait 24 hours after my question’s been posted, but I don’t think there’s an official number out there. Just my two cents - don’t listen if you don’t want to.
    – DonielF
    Aug 9, 2017 at 18:03
  • @hazoriz - comes to the category of
    – Yishai
    Aug 9, 2017 at 18:12
  • @Don if a better answer comes along, you should just change your selection to the better one.
    – mevaqesh
    Aug 9, 2017 at 18:14
  • 1
    @mevaqesh But maybe nobody will post that better answer if there’s already one accepted.
    – DonielF
    Aug 9, 2017 at 18:14

see sotah 7a (mishna 1.4) הרבה ילדות עושה and is clearly refering to the drives that must not be satisfied outside of marriage

  • הסוטה נשואה, היא לא רווקה.
    – kouty
    Aug 15, 2017 at 18:07

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