Is a nocturnal emission, also known as keri, a sin? If it happens to you at night, is teshuvah necessary?

  • 1
    Why might you think it is or isn’t?
    – DonielF
    Jul 25, 2018 at 13:52
  • Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (d. 1810) compiled ten psalms to be recited as repentence for a nocturnal emission called the Tikkun HaKlali, so I would believe at least in his view it is a sin.
    – ezra
    Jul 25, 2018 at 16:36
  • @Ezra I don't see how it could be. You didn't actually do anything so I don't see how it could be a issur. Also note that you can do teshuva for something that is not a sin. Like a nazir brings a sin offering even though what becoming is not only allowed but maybe sorta sometimes encouraged.
    – Orion
    Jul 26, 2018 at 4:46
  • @Orion Ever heard of an unintentional sin?
    – ezra
    Jul 26, 2018 at 5:14
  • 2
    Depends if you caused if by day or completely unavoidable
    – robev
    Sep 12, 2018 at 20:35

2 Answers 2


The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (151:5) calls it a sin indeed, but an involuntary one.

If, God forbid, you had a seminal emission at night, upon waking up from your sleep you should wash your hands and say with a contrite heart, "Master of the Universe I have done this unwittingly but it was due to sinful thoughts and sinful reflections; therefore, may it be Your will Adonoy, my God, and the God of my fathers, to erase this iniquity [avon] through your great mercy, and save me from sinful thoughts, and from similar occurrences forever and ever. Amein, so may it be Your will." If you wish to avoid this sin, [...]

see 151:6 and following for ways to avoid this issue.

guardyoureyes.com expands on the issue and explains it is involuntary, there is no punishment involved but it requires tshuva

A nocturnal emission is something that occurs by itself, against a person's will, and therefore the person is not considered to have committed a willful transgression and there is no punishment involved.

Nonetheless, t'shuva is certainly appropriate, especially if a person looked at things he shouldn't or had lustful thoughts during the day. [...] The holy Baal Shen Tov teaches that if a person has an emission without any cause or lustful thoughts, he should not worry because he was under a sentence of death for some other sin, and now, because of the great sorrow he feels in his heart over the wasting of semen, his broken heart takes the place of death, and he is absolved from the decree that was upon him.

see further there for additional considerations

  • 2
    You should not worry because you were under a sentence of death for some unknown sin? While I would imagine it's nice to know you are no longer liable....wouldn't the prospect of b'shogeg death penalty level sins be at least a bit frightening? Aug 13, 2019 at 7:31

Our Sages teach us that these emissions come from thinking impure thoughts during the day. Based on that, you should have to repent

  • 6
    Adding a source would make this answer way better. Aug 12, 2019 at 8:04
  • 2
    Welcome to MiYodeya 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. See in particular the focus on sourcing your answers. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Aug 12, 2019 at 11:56
  • 2
    @Renato that's not what that Gemara says. It just implies if you had a nocturnal emission due to daytime fantasies then you are at fault. No where does it say all nocturnal emissions are due to daytime fantasies! Indeed see Yoma 88 for a counterexample
    – Double AA
    Aug 12, 2019 at 16:06
  • @mbloch ^^^^^^^^^^^
    – Double AA
    Aug 12, 2019 at 16:08

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