Vayeshev: Chapter 17
"And the thing which he did displeased Hashem ..."

This section addresses the sin which, We are told, defiles man most in this world and in the World to Come, masturbation. This judgment is not based upon moral or ethical principles, but rather upon the metaphysical structure of the Upper Worlds. The dark forces that challenge us throughout our spiritual development derive their strength and sustenance from the Light they steal from us. Thus, when we react or behave with intolerance towards others, the Light we lose strengthens the Evil Inclination. Masturbation is condemned for the simple reason that a man's seed is the substance that is closest in form to the Light of The Creator. It is raw, naked energy, and therefore requires concealment when it is revealed in our physical world. This concealment takes place when a man's seed is used for the direct purpose of creating life. Moreover, sexual relations between a man and wife express the ultimate in sharing, with both parties imparting pleasure to one another. In this loving and protected environment, the Light and power of a man's sperm cannot be appropriated or defiled by the Evil Inclination. The spilling of a man's seed is an act that is done for immediate self-gratification. Consequently, negative forces immediately appropriate this Light and our lives grow a little bit darker. Hardships and misfortunes in life - whether emotional, financial, marital, or otherwise - result from a lack of spiritual Light. We also learn of the great rewards in the World to Come for a man who has trained his children to draw close to God and live by the spiritual wisdom of Torah.


When a man refrains from pleasuring himself through the wanton spilling of his seed, his spiritual life force grows increasingly stronger. This manifests in many ways, including more intense sexual desire for his mate, and greater emotional stability and inner peace. The Light of this passage helps to cleanse and eradicate the dark forces that attach to us as a result of our sexually self-gratifying actions. This Light helps us to recognize the spiritual benefits associated with directing our carnal desires towards sharing pleasure with our mate, and drawing the Light of The Creator into this darkened world.