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Mazornet, Inc. is proud to present its newest guide to Judaism.

"Infertility - A Jewish Perspective"
Rivka C. Berman
Yael Rosenberg, Editor 

An attempt is made to present the perspective of the major streams of Judaism in an effort to deem this guide practical and its resources helpful to all Jews.



One of the first steps of fertility therapy is determining its cause, and one of the simplest, least invasive, first tests is semen analysis. Since biblical times, Judaism has regarded the wasting of sperm, hashchatat zerah, as a serious offense. Onan, Judah’s son was punished with an early death because of his preference for coitus interruptus. Commentators differ on why he spilled his sperm.

Masturbation and coitus interruptus are generally considered seed wasting and are prohibited under Orthodox and Conservative Jewish Law. This seems to preclude sperm testing which is the first step of infertility treatment. Yet, because ejaculation for sperm testing or for purposes of artificial insemination by the husband, are a means for procreation, modern day halachists have devised permissible ways for sperm collection.

Some more liberal Orthodox and Conservative Halachists allow for masturbation if the doctor deems it to be the best way to get the most accurate results. They base it on Halachic precedents allowing one to follow a doctor’s advice even if it contradicts Torah values. Some notable examples include: Consumption of non-kosher drugs, and food intake on Yom Kippur if medically advised However, most traditional Orthodox Rabbis, including the well regarded Orthodox authority – Rabbi Waldenberg strictly limit ejaculation, requiring the woman to undergo a full battery of testing before any of the semen collection strategies could be used.

Once semen testing is deemed necessary, Orthodox Rabbis set rules on which mode of sperm collection is preferable. The ideal method would be to collect semen from the woman’s vagina after intercourse, as the sperm is then emitted during natural intercourse. Coitus Interruptus would be next in line, followed by ejaculation into a condom during intercourse. If none of the above is possible then masturbation can be used but mechanical is preferable to manual.

The more liberal Jewish movements such as the Reconstructionist and Reform Judaism take a more lenient approach to masturbation. The Reconstructionist movement purports that masturbation is harmless, natural and healthy while the Reform faction asserts that though masturbation should be discouraged it is not sinful or harmful. 


Conservative and Reform Rabbis differ in opinion from the Orthodox point of view.  Read more about the different therapies and the Jewish Perspective of the major streams of Judaism: