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God's rules for men about erections, being excited, lustful thoughts

and masturbation by hand or foot

Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Niddah1

Folio 13a


 Niddah 13b

Rab stated: 'A man who wilfully causes erection should be placed2  under the ban'. But why did he3  not say, 'This is forbidden'? Because the man4  merely incites his evil inclination against himself.5  R. Ammi, however, stated: He4  is called a renegade, because such is the art of the evil inclination: To-day it incites man to do one wrong thing,6  and to-morrow7  it incites him to worship idols and he proceeds to worship them.

There are others who read: R. Ammi8  stated, He who excites himself by lustful thoughts will not be allowed to enter the division of the Holy One, blessed be He. For here it is written, Was evil in the sight of the Lord,9  and elsewhere it is written, For Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness; evil shall not sojourn with Thee.10

R.11  Eleazar stated: Who are referred to12  in the Scriptural text, Your hands are full of blood?13  Those that commit masturbation with their hands.

It was taught at the school of R. Ishmael, Thou shalt not commit adultery14  implies, Thou shalt not practise masturbation either with hand or with foot.

Our Rabbis taught: 'proselytes and those that play with children delay the advent of the Messiah'. The statement about proselytes may be understood on the lines of the view of R. Helbo, for R. Helbo said, 'proselytes are as hard for Israel to endure as a sore',15  what, however, could be meant by 'those that play with children'?16  If it be suggested: Those that practise pederasty [it could well be objected]: Are not such people subject to stoning?17  If, however, it be suggested: Those that practise onanism through external contact18  [it could be objected]: Are not such deserving destruction by flood?17  The meaning rather is: Those that marry minors who are not capable of bearing children, for R. Jose19  stated: The Son of David20  will not come before all the souls in Guf21  will have been disposed of, since it is said, For the spirit that enwrappeth itself is from Me, and the souls which I have made.22


Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
Folio 69a

R. Jeremiah of Difti said: We also learnt the following: A maiden aged three years and a day may be acquired in marriage by coition, and if her deceased husband's brother cohabited with her, she becomes his.

A statement to the above statement can also be found in Sanhedrin 69a-69b (page viewer) and also on Yebamoth 57b-58a (page viewer). 


BUT IN THE CASE OF MEN IT OUGHT TO BE CUT OFF. The question was raised: Have we here23  learnt a law or merely an execration? 'Have we here learnt a law' as in the case where R. Huna cut off one's hand;24  'or merely an execration'? Come and hear what was taught: R. Tarfon said, 'If his hand touched the membrum let his hand be cut off upon his belly'. 'But', they said to him,25  'would not his belly be split'? 'It is preferable', he replied, 'that his belly shall be split rather than that he should go down into the pit of destruction'.26  Now if you concede that we have here27  learnt a law28  one can well understand why they said, 'Would not his belly be split'; but if you maintain that we have only learnt of an execration,29  what could be meant by [the question] 'His belly be split'? What then would you suggest, that we have learnt here a law, would it not suffice, [it may be objected, that the cutting off shall] not be done on his belly? The fact, however, is that it was this that R. Tarfon meant: Whosoever puts his hand below his belly that hand shall be cut off. They said to R. Tarfon, 'If a thorn stuck in his belly, should he not remove it'? 'No', he replied. 'But [they said] would not his belly be split'?30  'It is preferable', he replied, 'that his belly shall be split rather than that he should go down to the pit of destruction'.26


GEMARA. Why should not a DEAF woman make her own examination, seeing that it was taught: Rabbi stated, A deaf woman was living in our neighbourhood and not only35  did she examine herself but her friends also on observing a discharge would show it to her?36  There it was a woman who could speak but not hear while here the reference is to one who can neither speak nor hear; as we have learnt: The deaf person of whom the Sages spoke is always37  one who can neither hear nor speak.38

A BLIND. Why should she not make her own examination and show the testing-rag to her friend? R. Jose son of R. Hanina replied: The 'blind' is no part of the Mishnah.39

OR AN INSANE WOMAN. Is not this exactly the same as IMBECILE?40  This refers to one whose mind was deranged owing to a disease.

Our Rabbis taught: A priest who is an imbecile may be ritually immersed and then fed with terumah41  in the evening.42  He must also be watched that he does not fall asleep.43  If he falls asleep he is deemed unclean44  and if he does not fall asleep he remains clean. R. Eliezer son of R. Zadok ruled: He should be provided with a leather bag.45  The Rabbis said to him: 'Would not this cause heat all the more'? 'According to your view', he replied, 'should an imbecile have no remedy'? 'According to our view', they retorted, 'only if he falls asleep46  is he deemed unclean but if he does not fall asleep he remains clean, while according to your view there is the possibility that he might discharge a drop of blood of the size of a mustard seed and this would be absorbed in the bag'.47

A Tanna taught: It was stated in the name of R. Eleazar, The imbecile is to be provided with a metal bag. Abaye explained: It must be one of copper, as we have learnt:48  R. Judah ruled, Those buds of hyssop49  are regarded50  as if they had been made of copper.51

R. Papa remarked: From this52  it may be inferred that breeches53  are forbidden. But is it not written in Scripture, And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover the flesh of their nakedness?54  That may be explained as it was taught: To what were the breeches of the priests like? They were like the knee breeches of horsemen, reaching upwards to the loins and downwards to the thighs. They also had laces but had no padding either back or front.55


Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files

1.            In the direction of the body.

2.            Cf. Tosaf.

3.            Rab.

4.            Who indulges in the reprehensible practice.

5.            The practice, therefore, could only be condemned but not forbidden.

6.            Lit.,'tells him: Do so'.

7.            Lit., 'and on the morrow'.

8.            MS.M., 'Assi'.

9.            Gen. XXXVIII, 10.

10.          Ps. V, 5. analogy between the two expressions of 'evil'. Alfasi (Shab. XIV) inserts, 'R. Eleazar said, What is meant by evil shall not sojourn with thee? The evil (minded) man shall not sojourn in Thy dwelling'.

11.          So MS.M. and BaH. Cur. edd. and Alfasi, 'and R.'

12.          Lit., 'what'.

13.          Isa. I, 15.

14.          Ex. XX, 13.

15.          V. Yeb. 47b.

16.          Who apparently commit no crime at all.

17.          They are; while here they are merely described as delaying the advent of the Messiah.

18.          Lit., 'by way of limbs'.

19.          Var. lec. 'Assi' (Yeb. 62a) 'Joseph' (MS.M.).

20.          The Messiah.

21.          Lit., 'Body', the region inhabited by the souls of the unborn.

22.          Isa. LVII, 16.

23.          In the expression of 'OUGHT TO BE CUT OFF'.

24.          Though the same expression (cf. prev. n.) was used. Sanh. 58b.

25.          Cur. edd. in parenthesis, 'If a thorn stuck in his belly should he not remove it? He said to them: No'.

26.          Gehenna.

27.          In the expression of 'OUGHT TO BE CUT OFF.

28.          So that R. Tarfon's statement is to be taken literally.

29.          The 'cutting off' being a mere figure of speech.

30.          By the thorn.

31.          I.e., deaf-mute (v. Gemara infra).

32.          Lit., 'whose mind was deranged'.

33.          Lit., 'they have'.

34.          Lit., 'they prepare them', i.e., make the necessary examination and supervise the prescribed ritual immersion.

35.          Lit., 'it was not enough'.

36.          Who was an authority on the subject, in order to obtain her opinion on the colour whether it was that of clean or of unclean blood.

37.          Lit., 'in every place'.

38.          Hag. 2b.

39.          It is a spurious addition.

40.          Apparently it is; why then the repetition?

41.          Which is forbidden to an unclean priest.

42.          Since after due immersion one attains to cleanness at nightfall.

43.          In his sleep under his bedclothes heat might be engendered and this would cause him to emit semen which would render him unclean and, therefore, unfit to eat terumah.

44.          Cf. prev. n.

45.          Which can be examined for traces of semen before any terumah is given to him.

46.          After immersion and after nightfall.

47.          Tosef. Nid. II. As it would thus be lost to sight the priest would be regarded as clean and terumah would, as a result, be eaten by one who is in fact unclean; and consequently an offence that is punishable by death (at the hand of God) would unconsciously be committed.

48.          MS.M. and marg. n. Cur. edd., 'as it was taught'.

49.          Used in connection with the water of purification.

50.          When the water is measured to ascertain whether it contained sufficient for a sprinkling (cf. supra 9a).

51.          Parah Xli, 5. Sc. as if they did not absorb any water at all; from which it follows, in support of Abaye's explanation, that copper is a non-absorbent.

52.          The prohibition of a bag supra on account of the heat it engenders.

53.          Such as engender heat, v. infra.

54.          Ex. XXVIII, 42.

55.          Hanging loosely round the organ the breeches could engender no heat.



1.  Soncino Babylonian Talmud, Translated into English with notes, glossary and indices under the editorship of Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, B.A., Ph.D., D. Lit.

Foreword by the very Rev. the Late Chief Rabbi Dr. J. H. Hertz; Introduction by the editor, the Soncino Press, London


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