Semen is a primary source of impurity and imparts impurity to persons and implements when touched and to an earthenware container, when it enters its inner space. It does not impart impurity when carried and one who touches it does not impart impurity to his clothes even when touching it. It imparts impurity both to one who touches it and one who discharges it. They are both primary derivatives of impurity according to Scriptural Law.

What is the measure that imparts impurity? For one who touches it, an amount the size of a lentil. For one who discharges it, the slightest amount. A man who discharges it is not impure until it leaves his body, reaching the orifice of the male organ, as implied by Leviticus 22:4: "From whom is discharged semen." Therefore even one who discharges semen through a reed, is impure because the semen reached the orifice of the male organ.

One is impure whether he discharges semen as a natural physical reaction or due to forces beyond his control.


שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע מֵאֲבוֹת הַטֻּמְאָה מְטַמְּאָה אָדָם וְכֵלִים בְּמַגָּע וּכְלֵי חֶרֶס בָּאֲוִיר וְאֵינָהּ מְטַמְּאָה בְּמַשָּׂא וְאֵין הַמִּתְטַמֵּא בָּהּ מְטַמֵּא בְּגָדִים בִּשְׁעַת מַגָּעוֹ. וְאֶחָד הַנּוֹגֵעַ בָּהּ וְאֶחָד הָרוֹאֶה אוֹתָהּ בִּבְשָׂרוֹ שְׁנֵיהֶן רִאשׁוֹן לְטֻמְאָה דִּין תּוֹרָה. וְכַמָּה שִׁעוּרָהּ לְנוֹגֵעַ בְּכַעֲדָשָׁה וְלָרוֹאֶה בְּכָל שֶׁהוּא. וְאֵין הָרוֹאֶה טָמֵא עַד שֶׁתֵּצֵא מִמֶּנּוּ וְיַחְתֹּם מִמֶּנּוּ פִּי אַמָּה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא טו לב) (ויקרא כב ד) "אֲשֶׁר תֵּצֵא מִמֶּנּוּ שִׁכְבַת זָרַע". לְפִיכָךְ אֲפִלּוּ רָאָה בְּקֵיסָם הוֹאִיל וְהִגִּיעָה לְפִי אַמָּה נִטְמָא. וְאֶחָד הָרוֹאֶה מֵחֲמַת בְּשָׂרוֹ אוֹ הָרוֹאֶה בְּאֹנֶס טָמֵא:


The semen of a minor does not impart ritual impurity until he is nine years old.


אֵין שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע שֶׁל קָטָן מְטַמְּאָה עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בֶּן תֵּשַׁע שָׁנִים וְיוֹם אֶחָד:


Semen that is red is pure. It does not impart impurity unless it is white and viscous.


שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע אֲדֻמָּה טְהוֹרָה עַד שֶׁתִּהְיֶה לְבָנָה וְנִמְשֶׁכֶת:


Whenever a person's body does not feel the discharge of semen, it does not impart impurity. Therefore if a person discharges semen without an erection and without desire, it does not impart the impurity associated with semen. If there was a sensation when the discharge began, he is impure even though when it departed from his body, there was no sensation.


וְכָל שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע שֶׁאֵין גּוּפוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם מַרְגִּישׁ בָּהּ אֵינָהּ מְטַמְּאָה. לְפִיכָךְ אִם רָאָה בְּלֹא קִשּׁוּי וּבְלֹא תַּאֲוָה אֵינָהּ מְטַמְּאָה מִשּׁוּם שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע. נֶעֶקְרָה בְּהַרְגָּשָׁה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיָּצְתָה שֶׁלֹּא בְּהַרְגָּשָׁה טָמֵא:


When a person thinks about sexual matters at night and dreams that he had intercourse and awakes to find his organ warm, he is impure even though he did not find traces of semen. It is presumed that since, in his dreams, he had the sensation that he was involved in intercourse, he discharged semen with a physical sensation. That is why his organ was warm. The discharge, however, was small and it was absorbed on his flesh or on his clothes. Therefore, he did not find any moisture. If he had sexual thoughts, but did not find his organ warm or found his organ warm, but did not have sexual thoughts, he is pure.


הַמְהַרְהֵר בַּלַּיְלָה וְרָאָה שֶׁשִּׁמֵּשׁ מִטָּה בַּחֲלוֹם וְעָמַד וּמָצָא בְּשָׂרוֹ חַם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא מָצָא שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע הֲרֵי זֶה טָמֵא כֵּיוָן שֶׁהִרְגִּישׁ שֶׁשִּׁמֵּשׁ בַּחֲלוֹם כְּבָר רָאָה בְּהַרְגָּשָׁה וּלְפִיכָךְ מָצָא בְּשָׂרוֹ חַם וְהָיְתָה מְעַט וְנִתְקַנְּחָה בִּבְשָׂרוֹ אוֹ בְּכֵלָיו וּלְפִיכָךְ לֹא מָצָא לַחְלוּחִית. הִרְהֵר וְלֹא מָצָא בְּשָׂרוֹ חַם אוֹ שֶׁמָּצָא בְּשָׂרוֹ חַם וְלֹא הִרְהֵר טָהוֹר:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.


If a person's urine was slippery or murky at the outset, he is pure. If the slipperiness or the murkiness was seen in the middle of his urination or at the end, he is impure. If, from the beginning to the end, the urine was slippery and murky, he is pure. If it was white and viscous, he is impure. One who releases thick drops from his male organ is pure.


הַמֵּטִיל מַיִם וְרָאָה מַיִם חֲלוּקִין אוֹ עֲכוּרִים בַּתְּחִלָּה טָהוֹר. רָאָה אוֹתָם בָּאֶמְצַע אוֹ בַּסּוֹף הֲרֵי זֶה טָמֵא. הָיוּ הַמַּיִם שֶׁהֵטִיל כֻּלָּם מִתְּחִלָּה וְעַד סוֹף חֲלוּקִין אוֹ עֲכוּרִים הֲרֵי זֶה טָהוֹר. הָיוּ לְבָנִים וְנִמְשָׁכִין טָמֵא. וְהַמֵּטִיל טִפִּים עָבוֹת מִתּוֹךְ הָאַמָּה טָהוֹר:


When a man who experienced a seminal emission immerses himself and had not urinated before he immersed himself, he becomes impure when he urinates. For there are remnants of semen that are not discharged until he urinates.

To whom does the above apply? To one who is sick or elderly. A healthy youth, by contrast, is pure, for he ejaculates semen powerfully, like an arrow and it clears the orifice of the male organ entirely.

Until when is a male considered a youth in this context? As long as he can stand on one foot and put on or remove his other shoe. If he cannot do this because he is sick, he is considered as infirm in this context.


בַּעַל קֶרִי שֶׁטָּבַל וְלֹא הֵטִיל מַיִם קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּטְבּל כְּשֶׁיָּטִיל מַיִם טָמֵא מִפְּנֵי צִחְצוּחֵי שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע שֶׁאֵינָן יוֹצְאִין אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁיָּטִיל מַיִם. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּחוֹלֶה אוֹ בְּזָקֵן. אֲבָל יֶלֶד בָּרִיא טָהוֹר מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא יוֹרֶה שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע בְּחָזְקָה כְּחֵץ וְהִיא כֻּלָּהּ נִנְתֶּקֶת מִן הָאַמָּה. עַד כַּמָּה הוּא יֶלֶד כָּל זְמַן שֶׁהוּא עוֹמֵד עַל רַגְלוֹ אַחַת וְנוֹעֵל אוֹ חוֹלֵץ מִנְעָלוֹ וְאִם אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹת כֵּן מִפְּנֵי חָלְיוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה חוֹלֶה לְעִנְיָן זֶה:


Any woman who engaged in physical intimacy and then went and immersed herself before she washed her vaginal area thoroughly remains impure.


וְכָל אִשָּׁה שֶׁשִּׁמְּשָׁה מִטָּתָהּ וְיָרְדָה וְטָבְלָה קֹדֶם שֶׁתְּקַנֵּחַ עַצְמָהּ יָפֶה יָפֶה הֲרֵי הִיא בְּטֻמְאָתָהּ:


Both a man and a woman who engage in physical intimacy are impure. Both of them are considered as primary derivatives of impurity according to Scriptural Law. The woman is not impure because she touched the semen, because the semen touched the inner part of her body, and touching the inner part of the body is not considered as touch. Instead, a woman who engages in intercourse is considered as a man who ejaculates.

The above applies provided the female is at least three years old, as implied by Leviticus 15:18: "A woman with whom a man lies." If a minor is less than three, she does not become impure because of the physical intimacy itself. She can, however, become impure because she touched the semen if it touches the outer surface of her flesh. Based on this logic, when a man engages in anal intercourse with an adult woman, she is pure, for Scripture only dictated that a woman becomes impure although the impurity only touched her internal organs when intercourse was carried out in the ordinary manner.


אֶחָד הָאִישׁ וְאֶחָד הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁשִּׁמְּשׁוּ מִטָּתָן שְׁנֵיהֶן טְמֵאִים. וּשְׁנֵיהֶן רִאשׁוֹן לְטֻמְאָה דִּין תּוֹרָה. וְאֵין הָאִשָּׁה טְמֵאָה מִשּׁוּם נוֹגַעַת בְּשִׁכְבַת זֶרַע שֶׁנְּגִיעַת בֵּית הַסְּתָרִים אֵינָהּ נְגִיעָה. אֶלָּא הַמְשַׁמֶּשֶׁת הֲרֵי הִיא כְּרוֹאָה קֶרִי. וְהוּא שֶׁתִּהְיֶה בַּת שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים וְיוֹם אֶחָד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר [(ויקרא טו יח) "וְאִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁכַּב אִישׁ אֹתָהּ"]. הָיְתָה קְטַנָּה מִבַּת שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים אֵינָהּ מִתְטַמְּאָה בִּשְׁכִיבָה. אֲבָל מִתְטַמְּאָה בִּנְגִיעַת שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע אִם נָגַע בִּבְשָׂרָהּ מִבַּחוּץ. [לְפִיכָךְ הַבּוֹעֵל גְּדוֹלָה שֶׁלֹּא כְּדַרְכָּהּ טְהוֹרָה]. שֶׁלֹּא טִמֵּא אוֹתָהּ הַכָּתוּב בְּטֻמְאַת בֵּית הַסְּתָרִים אֶלָּא כְּדַרְכָּהּ:


When a man engages in intercourse with a woman and does not ejaculate, he is pure even though the corona entered the vagina. Similarly, the woman is pure until the man ejaculates.


הַבּוֹעֵל אֶת הָאִשָּׁה וְלֹא הוֹצִיא שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע טָהוֹר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֶעֱרָה. וְכֵן הָאִשָּׁה טְהוֹרָה עַד שֶׁיּוֹצִיא הָאִישׁ:


The following rules apply when semen seeps from a woman after relations. If she discharges it within three twelve-hour periods after intercourse, she is impure like a man who has a seminal emission. Therefore, she misses one day if she is a zavah, like a man who had a seminal emission. Even the slightest amount of semen renders her impure even if it does not emerge outside her body, but is just discharged between the folds of her vagina, she is impure, for semen is like vaginal bleeding. Just as vaginal bleeding imparts impurity while inside the woman's body, so too, semen that she discharges makes her impure while it is within her body.


הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁפָּלְטָה שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע אִם פָּלְטָה אוֹתָהּ בְּתוֹךְ שָׁלֹשׁ עוֹנוֹת הֲרֵי הִיא טְמֵאָה כְּרוֹאָה קֶרִי. לְפִיכָךְ סוֹתֶרֶת יוֹם אֶחָד אִם הָיְתָה זָבָה כְּאִישׁ שֶׁרָאָה קֶרִי. וּמִטַּמְּאָהּ בְּכָל שֶׁהוּא אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא יָצָאת לַחוּץ אֶלָּא נֶעֶקְרָה וְהִגִּיעָה לְבֵין הַשִּׁנַּיִם נִטְמְאָה שֶׁהֲרֵי שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע כְּדָמָהּ מַה דָּמָהּ מְטַמֵּא בִּפְנִים אַף שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע שֶׁתִּפְלֹט תְּטַמֵּא אוֹתָהּ בִּפְנִים:


Semen itself that was discharged within three twelve-hour periods imparts impurity to others who touch it as it imparts impurity to the woman who discharges it.

If she discharged it after three twelve-hour periods, the woman is considered as pure. Similarly, the semen itself that was discharged after such a time is pure, for its substance has already putrefied.


שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע עַצְמָהּ שֶׁנִּפְלְטָה בְּתוֹךְ הַשָּׁלֹשׁ עוֹנוֹת מְטַמְּאָה אֲחֵרִים שֶׁנָּגְעוּ בָּהּ כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁטִּמְּאָה הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁפָּלְטָה אוֹתָהּ. וְאִם פָּלְטָה אַחַר שָׁלֹשׁ עוֹנוֹת הֲרֵי הָאִשָּׁה טְהוֹרָה וְכֵן שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע שֶׁנִּפְלְטָה טְהוֹרָה שֶׁכְּבָר נִפְסְדָה צוּרָתָהּ:


What is meant by a twelve-hour period? A full day or a full night. The period in which relations took place is not counted.

What is implied? If relations took place on Friday night, the three twelve-hour periods are: the Sabbath day, Saturday night, and during the day on Sunday. If she discharged semen during this time, she is impure. If she discharged it from Sunday night onward, she is pure.

When a man was sodomized, the semen he discharges is impure, as long as it is moist, even after several twelve-hour periods. Similarly, the man who discharges it is impure.


וְכַמָּה הִיא עוֹנָה. יוֹם אוֹ לַיְלָה. וְאֵין הָעוֹנָה שֶׁנִּבְעֲלָה בָּהּ מִן הַמִּנְיָן. כֵּיצַד. נִבְעֲלָה בְּלֵיל הַשַּׁבָּת שָׁלֹשׁ עוֹנוֹת שֶׁלָּהּ יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת וְלֵיל אֶחָד בְּשַׁבָּת וְאֶחָד בְּשַׁבָּת אִם פָּלְטָה בְּתוֹךְ זְמַן זֶה טְמֵאָה. פָּלְטָה מִלֵּיל שֵׁנִי וָהָלְאָה טְהוֹרָה. וְהָאִישׁ שֶׁפֵּרְשָׁה מִמֶּנּוּ שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע אֲפִלּוּ לְאַחַר כַּמָּה עוֹנוֹת הֲרֵי זוֹ טְמֵאָה כָּל זְמַן שֶׁהִיא לֶחָה וְהַפּוֹרֵשׁ מִמֶּנּוּ טָמֵא:


Semen does not impart impurity unless it is moist. If it becomes dry like a shard it is pure. If it would return to its original state when left to soak in lukewarm water for an entire day, it imparts impurity.


שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע אֵינָהּ מְטַמְּאָה אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁהִיא לֶחָה. יָבְשָׁה כְּחֶרֶס טְהוֹרָה. וְאִם יְכוֹלָה לִשְׁרוֹת מֵעֵת לְעֵת בְּפוֹשְׁרִין וְלַחֲזֹר לִכְמוֹת שֶׁהָיְתָה הֲרֵי זוֹ טְמֵאָה:


In this chapter, we have already explained that a man who ejaculates, a woman who engages in relations with a man, and one who touches semen, are impure according to Scriptural law. Similarly, a woman who discharges semen within three twelve-hour periods after relations is impure according to Scriptural Law like one who has a seminal emission. All of the others about whom it was said in this chapter that they are impure, e.g., one who has sexual thoughts in his dreams or has questionable substances in his urine, are impure only due to Rabbinic decree. That decree applies only to terumah, but for ordinary foods, they are pure.


כְּבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ בְּפֶרֶק זֶה שֶׁהָרוֹאֶה קֶרִי וְהָאִשָּׁה שֶׁשָּׁכַב אִישׁ אוֹתָהּ שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע וְהַנּוֹגֵעַ בְּשִׁכְבַת זֶרַע טְמֵאִים מִן הַתּוֹרָה. וְכֵן הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁפָּלְטָה בְּתוֹךְ שָׁלֹשׁ עוֹנוֹת הֲרֵי הִיא טְמֵאָה מִן הַתּוֹרָה כְּרוֹאָה קֶרִי. אֲבָל שְׁאָר הָאֲמוּרִין בְּפֶרֶק זֶה שֶׁהֵן טְמֵאִים כְּגוֹן מְהַרְהֵר וּמֵטִיל מַיִם אֵינָן טְמֵאִין אֶלָּא מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם וְלֹא גָּזְרוּ עֲלֵיהֶם טֻמְאָה אֶלָּא לִתְרוּמָה אֲבָל לְחֻלִּין טְהוֹרִין:


When a gentile woman discharges the semen of a Jew within three twelve-hour periods - or when an animal discharges the semen of a Jew within this time - the semen discharged is impure. If it was released after this time, there is an unresolved question whether it is considered to have putrefied or not.


נָכְרִית שֶׁפָּלְטָה שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּתוֹךְ הַשָּׁלֹשׁ עוֹנוֹת. וְכֵן הַבְּהֵמָה שֶׁפָּלְטָה שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּתוֹךְ זְמַן זֶה הֲרֵי אוֹתָהּ הַנִּפְלֶטֶת טְמֵאָה. פְּלָטַתּוּ לְאַחַר זְמַן זֶה הֲרֵי הִיא סָפֵק נִסְרְחָה אוֹ עֲדַיִן לֹא נִסְרְחָה:


In Hilchot Metamei Mishkav UMoshav, we already explained that the semen of a gentile is absolutely pure. Therefore if a Jewish woman discharges the semen of a gentile even within three twelve-hour periods, she is pure.


כְּבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת מְטַמְּאֵי מִשְׁכָּב וּמוֹשָׁב שֶׁשִּׁכְבַת זַרְעוֹ שֶׁל עַכּוּ''ם טָהוֹר מִכְּלוּם לְפִיכָךְ בַּת יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁפָּלְטָה שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע שֶׁל עַכּוּ''ם אֲפִלּוּ בְּתוֹךְ שָׁלֹשׁ עוֹנוֹת טְהוֹרָה:


When a gentile felt the release of semen, converted and went to immerse himself and released the semen that he felt initially after he immersed, there is a question whether or not he is impure.


עַכּוּ''ם שֶׁהִרְגִּישׁ וְנִתְגַּיֵּר וְיָרַד וְטָבַל וְיָצָא מִמֶּנּוּ שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע שֶׁהִרְגִּישׁ בָּהּ אַחַר שֶׁטָּבַל הֲרֵי זֶה סְפֵק טָמֵא:


When a minor less than nine years old - or a gentile or an animal - engages in relations with a mature female, she is pure, as indicated by Leviticus 15:18: "And a man who will lie with a woman." Implied is that the male must be a mature man and Jewish, as we explained.


גְּדוֹלָה שֶׁשָּׁכַב אוֹתָהּ קָטָן פָּחוֹת מִבֶּן תֵּשַׁע [אוֹ עַכּוּ''ם אוֹ בְּהֵמָה] הֲרֵי זוֹ טְהוֹרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר [(ויקרא טו יח) "וְאִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁכַּב אִישׁ אֹתָהּ"] עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַשּׁוֹכֵב אִישׁ וּמִיִּשְׂרָאֵל כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ: