Jewish Sexuality dot Com
|Spilling Semen in Vain|
|Written by Tzvi Fishman|
|Monday, 18 June 2012|
The Zohar teaches that the Flood in the days of Noach came as punishment for the widespread transgression of spilling semen in vain. Because they wasted their "holy waters," the waters of the Flood came to destroy them. measure for measure.
Wasting semen is a Torah prohibition according to all authorities. Punishment is death at the Hand of Heaven (Niddah 13A). While in several places, the Zohar indicates that there is no repentance for this transgression, the meaning is that ordinary repentance, stemming from the fear of punishment, does not suffice, but that a course of higher repentance, stemming from a great love of G-d, is needed (Baal HaTanya, Letter of T'shuva, Ch. 4). Masters of Kabbalah like Rabbi Nachman of Breslov have formulated special prayers, called "Tikunim," to aid in the spiritual cleansing. The "Tikun HaKlali", also posted on the website, is one famous example.
The Talmud compares all sexual offenses, including masturbation, with adultery (See Niddah 13A and B).
The halachah as stated in the "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch," states:
"It is forbidden to discharge semen in vain. This is a graver sin than any other mentioned in the Torah (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer, 23:1). Those who practice masturbation and cause the issue of semen in vain, not only do they commit a grave sin, but they are under a ban, concerning which it is said, "Your hands are full of blood" (Yishayahu, 1:15), and it is equivalent to killing a person. See what Rashi wrote concerning Er and Onan in the Portion of Vayeshev (Bereshit, Ch. 37) that both Er and Onan died for the commission of this sin. Occasionally, as a punishment for this sin, children die young, G-d forbid, or grow up to be delinquent, while the sinner himself is reduced to poverty. One is forbidden to willfully cause an erection, or to think about women. If a lascivious thought comes to one spontaneously, he should divert his attention to a subject of Torah. Lewd thoughts prevail only in a mind devoid of wisdom."
In summary, we can see from the warnings of the Torah, from the admonishments of the Talmud, from the exacting prohibitions of Jewish Law, and from the inner understandings of the Zohar and the Kabbalah, that Shmirat HaBrit is indeed the foundation upon which all of life is based.
THE SOURCE OF LIFE
In order to grasp the full significance of the laws surrounding Shmirat HaBrit, it is necessary to understand the tragedy of spilling semen in vain, both for an unmarried person, and for a husband and wife.
In the Kaballah, the marital union is associated with the lofty spiritual concept of "Hashmal," that the Prophet Ezekiel saw in a vision, and which is translated in modern Hebrew as "electricity." In effect, sexual transgression metaphorically short-circuits the "Hashmal" or life force, and disconnects a person from G-d.
Semen contains this "Hashmal" - the Divine spark of life that sustains the whole world. The Zohar explains that the ladder that Yaacov saw in his dream represents the Brit, also called the Yesod, the spiritual channel that connects man with heaven, another name for the concept of "Hashmal" (Zohar, Bereshit 149). According to its inner meaning, Yaacov was not only speaking about the place of the Temple Mount, but also about the place of the Brit on the body:
"He laid down in the place to sleep; and he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on earth, and the top of it reached up to heaven, and behold the angels of the L-rd ascended and descended on it" (Bereshit, 28:12).
"And he was afraid, and he said, How awesome is this place; this is none other than the House of G-d, and this is the gate of heaven" (Bereshit, 28:17).
Regarding the verse, "And he laid down וישכב in that place" (Bereshit, 28:11), Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi, teaches that וישכב can be read, ויש כ"ב (and there are 22 letters) in that place - the place of the Brit.
The Midrash teaches that with these 22 letters of the Torah, the world was created. These Hebrew letters are the building blocks of Creation. Thus, every drop of semen contains not only the genetic blueprint of the father, but also the spiritual blueprint of life. Notice, there are also 22 pairs of chromosomes, and several resemble the Hebrew letter, "alef."
This is the reason that Avraham commanded his servant, Eliezer, to swear an oath by placing his hand under the place of the Brit - because of its exalted holiness (Bereshit, 24:9). In this sense, blemishing the sanctity of the Brit through sexual wrongdoing is like desecrated a holy Torah scroll, may G-d have mercy.
The Hebrew word for semen is zera, which means seed. This seed contains not only the physical and spiritual blueprints of life, but also the life force itself. Each discharge of semen contains hundreds of thousands, even millions, of souls.
Each microscopic drop is more than a potential life. It is already a living soul. For this reason, the sin of spilling semen in vain is considered like the spilling of blood - like taking the life of a person. Not just the life of any person, but the life of the child of the man who commits the sin (Niddah 13A; Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer, 23:2).
Every drop of semen is your child.
Kabbalistic sources explain that with each drop of semen, a soul is brought into the world. When this occurs in a manner forbidden by Jewish Law, the soul is taken captive by the forces of impurity - the kelipot, or husks, of the Sitra Achra, the "Other Side."
Thus the holy life force contained in these souls is captured by the realm of evil, strengthening the power of evil in the world. In their anguish at being taken captive amongst the husks, these kidnapped souls return to haunt the man who gave birth to them, inevitably causing him a gamut of troubles, sometimes sickness, sometimes depression, sometimes poverty, marital strife, problems with children, and a long list of other tragedies. The Arizal explains that the Hebrew word for pleasure, עֹנג "oneg" that a man experiences during a forbidden sexual climax, turns into נגע "nega," or plague, by a rearrangement of the letters. This is because the captive children that he created return to cause him great suffering (Shaar HaKavanot, Part Two, Sukkot).
In addition to physical harm, these kelipot or husks act as a barrier between the man and G-d, dulling his spiritual sensitivities, and turning his prayer and Torah learning into heavy, half-hearted endeavors which bring no satisfaction or joy.
Our job is to rectify the souls that fell captive into the realm of spiritual impurity because of semen that was spilled in vain, whether through masturbation or other sexual transgressions, and to return these liberated souls to the Soul Bank in Heaven.
|Last Updated ( Monday, 18 June 2012 )|
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