Are Noahides required to guard their eyes (Shemirat Eynayim) as Jews are? Is there some information in Jewish religious literature addressing this question?

2 Answers 2


The concept of guarding the eyes is set up to prevent one from forbidden relationships. The list for a Jew is enumerated here. The Talmud Yerushalmi Brachot 1:5 states that the eyes [and heart] cause one to sin (in the right context). In Nedarim 20a it also states that one who looks at forbidden relationship will eventually come to commit a sin.

Recounted by Rambam in Repentance 4:4:

He who wantonly stares at the opposite sex, for he thinks that it is of no matter, saying: "Have I stilled an urge, or even been near her"? whereas he remains oblivious to the fact that purposeful eye-staring is a great iniquity and begets actual unchastity, even as it is said: "And that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes" (Num. 15.39).

Non-Jews however, do not have a lengthy list of prohibited relationships; just six.

Rambam, Kings 9:5:

There are six illicit sexual relations forbidden to a gentile: a) his mother; b) his father's wife; c) a married woman; d) his maternal sister; e) a male; f) an animal.

It comes out that a form of guarding the eyes may need to be implemented, should such issues arise. But surely any method could work.

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    Thank you Dr. Shmuel, you fully answered my question! Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 17:15

One of the primary prohibitions in looking at illicit material is that it causes improper thoughts.

מכאן א"ר פינחס בן יאיר: אל יהרהר אדם ביום ויבא לידי טומאה בלילה - כתובות מ״ו

The prohibition (see Igros Moshe E"H 1 §69) of improper thoughts is because it can cause הוצאת זרע לבטלה [wasting seed].

Whether or not Noahides have the prohibition of wasting seed would depend on the reasoning for the prohibition: If wasting seed is prohibited because of P'ru Urevu (Tosfos Sanhedrin 59b), a Noahide would not be forbidden (because a Noahide is not commanded to procreate [Tos. ad loc]. See, however, Tosfos Chagiga 2b, who implies that a Noahide is commanded in Pru Urevu, in accordance with the Sheiltos 165 and the pashtus of Yevamos 62).

If, however, the prohibition is from Lo Sinaf (או״ז א-קכ״ד, סמ״ק רצ״ב), a Noahide would indeed be prohibited from wasting seed.


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