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Book: Jews

Chapter: 3. What is Jewish Morality?

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.35984


Let me begin this discussion by quoting the law
about masturbation in the Shulhan Arukh – the
Code of Jewish Law – that we have already met:
It is forbidden to discharge semen in vain. This is more
severe than any of the other prohibitions of the Torah.
Those who masturbate and discharge semen in vain
not only violate a severe prohibition, but also should
be placed under a ban of ostracism. Concerning them
[Isaiah 1.15] states: ‘your hands are full of blood,’ it is
equivalent to murder.
I wonder what you think of this. As a Reform
Jew, I believe it is utterly extreme and totally
irrelevant in modern society, yet the Orthodox
are compelled to follow the Shulhan Arukh in its

Chapter Contributors

  • Peter Cave ( - pcave) 'The Open University and New York University (London)'
  • Dan Cohn-Sherbok ( - dcohn-sherbok) 'University of Wales (Emeritus Professor) and Rabbi'