Judaism and masturbation
The prohibition of extracting semen in vain (in Hebrew: איסור הוצאת זרע לבטלה) is a chazalic prohibition found in the midrash and talmud. The prohibition forbids a male from intentional wasteful spilling of his semen.
In the Mishnah, masturbation is treated under a broader view about frequent examination of the male and female organs. It teaches that while for women it is praiseworthy to frequently examine herself, for men their hands "ought to be cut off".
According to the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, "It is forbidden to discharge semen in vain. This is a graver sin than any other in the Torah". However, Beis Shmuel expounds that this is not literal, but rather serves to frighten man into avoiding the sin.
Leniencies in marriage
Rabbinic authorities have in certain instances permitted intentional extra-vaginal ejaculation in tandem with one's wife. The tannaim Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Meir (Tosefta, Niddah 2:), for safety reasons (prior to the advent of female birth control) permits exterior ejaculation for a duration of 24 months post childbirth (Talmud Yebamoth 34). Tosefot cites the opinion of Rabbi Yitzchak (Isaac ben Samuel) who permitted an occasional exterior ejaculation with ones wife on condition that one does not accustom himself to always doing so (Tosfoth, Yebamoth 34b, Tosfoth Sanhedrin 58b)). The Bayit Chadash (Yoel Sirkis) commentary to the Rabbeinu Asher (ibid.) explicitly permits this foreign ejaculation with Rabbeinu Asher siding with the tosafist opinion. This opinion is likewise quoted in Tur Shulchan Aruch, Even Ha'ezer ch. 25.
Rabbenu Asher, followed by Rabbi Elijah Spira, commented that an occasional exterior ejaculation in tandem with ones wife is not considered "extracting semen in vain" (and not banned by the talmud) as long as the intention is not to avoid impregnating one's wife and it is done on rare occasion -as this is not likened to the desire of Onan who wished to avoid impregnating Tamar entirely. The Aguddah work also sides with the lenient opinion permitting an occasional extra-vaginal ejaculation with one's wife, whilst Rabbi Samuel Eidels (the Maharsha) likewise taking a lenient view.
A more explicit permissive stance is that of the tosafist rabbi Isaiah di Trani the elder;
What was the (forbidden) action of Er and Onan that the torah prohibits? that committed with the intent of not diminishing her beauty (due to pregnancy) and he doesn't desire to fulfill the mitzvah of procreation (פרו ורבו) with her. But if his intent.. is for his inclination and to satisfy his desire and his intent is not to avoid impregnating her, it is permitted, ..he who'se intent is to fulfill the desire of his incliniation does not transgress as "all that a man wants to do with his wife he may do" (tractate nedarim, 20b) -and this isn't called "wasting his seed"—Tosfoth Ri"d to tractate Yebamoth, p. 12b (Yad HaRav Herzog, Jerusalem)
Rabbi Eleazar of Worms, in his recently published Torah commentary to the verse "Adam and his wife, and where not embarrassed" (genesis) permits any activity with one's wife necessary to "quiet (lit. seat)" his desire.
From amongst rabbi's of the achronim era, the Tzemach Tzedek differentiated between extracting ones seed alone (masturbation) and extra-vaginal extracting of one's seed with one's wife, with the latter a form (albeit strange) of a tandem relationship.
Some poskim rule that it is possible to masturbate to avoid arayot (forbidden relationships).
- Talmud Niddah 13a
- Talmud Niddah 13a
- Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, סימן קנא: א (Chapter 151: 1); Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried
- Shulchan Aruch, Even Ha'Ezer 23:1
- Rabbeinu Asher to Yebamoth ch. 3
- "Eliyah rabbah" to ch. 240 of Orach Chayim, 10-11
- Agudah, p. 115 col. 2
- Maharsha to Talmud Nedarim 20a
- "Ria"z", jerusalem 1994
- Rokeach to the Torah (J. Kluggman, Bnei Brak), p. 83
- Responsa, ch. 89
- Rabbi Chaim Rappoport, Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox View, pp. 141-42.
- Jewish Law - Articles ("The Use of Cryopreserved Sperm and Pre-embryos In Contemporary Jewish Law and Ethics")