If "spilling seed" is a sin for a man because it prevents the creation of a new life, can a man who has not had children make love to his wife if she is postmenopausal (ie, incapable of making a "new life")?

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    I don't understand what his having had children has to do with it; can you edit to clarify? Also, if you can substantiate your assumption that that's the reason spilling seed is forbidden, it would strengthen your question quite a bit.
    – msh210
    Mar 5, 2018 at 12:48
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    Looking beyond your presumed rationale for the issues behind spilling seed: A husband and wife may engage in consensual intercourse whenever they'd like, regardless of the potential for "creating life" from this specific act of intercourse or not. Whether she is currently pregnant, post-menopausal, or for that matter prepubescent or infertile, a couple may have relations whenever they are permitted to each other. Indeed, many rabbinic opinions permit anal relations under certain circumstances, which clearly doesn't hold potential for creating children.
    – Chaim
    Mar 5, 2018 at 12:54
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    The shulchan arukh writes: "אסור להוציא שכבת זרע לבטלה, ועון זה חמור מכל עבירות שבתורה, לפיכך לא יהיה אדם דש מבפנים וזורה מבחוץ ולא ישא קטנה שאינה ראויה לילד: It is forbidden to spill seed for no purpose, and this sin is more severe than all the sins in the torah, therefore a man should not engage in coitus interruptus, not should he marry a young girl who is unable to conceive."
    – Double AA
    Mar 5, 2018 at 17:38

1 Answer 1


One of the issues with living in galut is "spiritual pollution" from other religions. The idea that non-procreative sex is forbidden comes from St.Paul's misreading of Onan and has absolutely no basis in Judaisim.

Jewish men are biblically commanded to provide our wives with sexual pleasure as the mitzvah of onah; this includes during pregnancy (when they are unable to get more pregnant) and even acts that cannot lead to pregnancy. It would be easy to cite the Rambam on this, but I'm going to go with another source:

"Ra’avad, Ba’alei Hanefesh, Gate of Holiness – selection 4

הארבע כוונות אשר המעשה ההוא נכון עליהם.

הראשונה לשם פריה ורביה והיא הנכונה שבכולם…

והשנית לתקון הולד… וגם זו הכוונה נמשכת בכונת פריה ורביה.

והשלישית אף על פי שאין בה לא זה ולא זה אלא שהיא משתוקקת אליו… גם על זו יש קבול שכר והיא היא מצות העונה שאמרה התורה, דמיון שארה וכסותה לא יגרע שהם צרכי האשה והנאותיה.

והרביעית שהוא מתכוין לגדור את עצמו בה כדי שלא יתאוה לעבירה…

ואם לא נתכוון כי אם למלאות תאותו מן הנאות העולם הנה הוא בדרך הסתת היצר ורחוק מן השכר וקרוב להפסד…

ואחרי שראינו כל אלה שהאדם חייב לעשות חפצי אשתו ולשמחה במצוה זו בכל עת שהיא צריכה לה, על כן הזהירוהו שתהא שמאל דוחה וימין מקרבת פן תסיתנו לעבור על המדה ותמשכהו אחריה אל הבלי העולם ויאבד בעבורה.

The four intentions (or “motivations”) which are proper for that act (of marital sex) [are as follows]:

The first is for the sake of procreation, and this is the most proper of all the intentions…

The second is for the well-being of the fetus [when the wife is pregnant]… and this intention is connected to the intention for procreation.

The third is even in a case when neither of the above two apply, but merely that the wife is longing for her husband… even in this case there is reward in the act (i.e., it is a religiously positive act), and this is the Biblical mitzvah of onah. It is comparable to the mitzvah “thou shall not withhold her food and clothing,” for these are the things that the wife needs and which give her pleasure.

The fourth is if he is intending to protect himself so that his sexual desire does not lead him to sin (so he gives licit outlet to this desire through sex with his wife)…

But if his only intent is to satisfy his sexual desire with this-worldly pleasures, then he is following his evil inclination. Such an the act is distant from any reward and close to being a loss (i.e., a religiously negative act)"…

( )

Now, if he has not fulfilled his obligation to be fruitful and multiply, some may rule he is required to divorce his wife and marry a non-menopausal woman. But as long as they are married, he is not only permitted to have relations with her, he is commanded by the mitzvah of onah to do so

The sin referred to in your question may be less literlly but more accurately translated to as "wasting" seed as opposed to spilling it; preventing the creation of new life is not the reason it is forbidden, indeed, kaballistic sources wouls argue that it does indeed create new life in the form of demons and evil spirits.

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    So Lekhatchila you shouldn't get yourself into a situation where you'd need to do that, but Bedieved such sex not forbidden. (The Galut perspective you mention is indeed really really far off from the truth (sarcasm).)
    – Double AA
    Mar 5, 2018 at 18:43
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    I would argue it's more than bedieved permitted, if the woman is your wife it's still commanded Mar 5, 2018 at 19:01
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    If you steal something you are commanded to give it back. That's clearly a highly Bedieved situation. Not exactly a paradigm of the Jewish ideal.
    – Double AA
    Mar 5, 2018 at 19:03
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    I see your point, @DoubleAA, so ideally one marries a woman while still fertile but presumably the way of all women is to go through menopause over the course of a marriage...to my (admittedly fairly untrained) eye that is different from the bedieved permission to have sex with the infertile bride one went out and purposefully married. Mar 5, 2018 at 19:05
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    Halakhically it's the same (as likely is a woman who is currently infertile due to birth control treatments). The only catch is having wives who can't conceive isnt considered problematic if a man already has children or has other wives who can conceive. That's why usually it's not an issue by the age of menopause.
    – Double AA
    Mar 5, 2018 at 21:19

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