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Cleaning off Zera

Please excuse me for asking this question, but it’s been on my mind lately and I know that Torah encompasses all areas of life!

The question is about zera.

If, chas v’shalom, a person is motzie zera le’vatalah, or baal keiri, and the zera is either on the bed-sheets or finds itself elsewhere in the house (such as on carpets, couches, etc), what must one do?

I know that the answer is probably ‘nothing, but do teshuvah’, but I feel that such tumah must be cleaned, and tend to compulsively clean up the carpets, bed, etc, after this happened.

I know I must sound meshugah, but tumah is the antithesis of kedushah, and I can’t stand the feeling of having it close by without trying to ‘destroy’ it as such.

Thanks for this fantastic service which is hugely valuable to Jews in the world like myself who lives in isolated areas without the psak of a Rabbi to rely on!


As you rightly state, the halachic answer is that nothing needs to be done. Even with regard to prayer and berachos when a person has zera on his clothing, the principle halachah is that one is permitted to pray under such circumstances, though there is room to be stringent and have the garment washed. The obligation to do teshuvah is of course incumbent.

For bed-sheets, and so on, I understand your desire to live in purity, but note that if we wish to actually live by the laws of tumah and taharah, we would have to think twice each time we sit down! Nonetheless, the presence of a zera stain does awaken a more concrete sense of tumah, and certainly when the zera emerges from sin (and even from unintentional emission), it is proper—and the more so in view of your strong emotions—to clean it off.

Sources: Concerning prayer, see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 76:4; Magen Avraham, and Maamar Mordechai 76:4. Chayei Adam (3:27) is more stringent concerning semen on clothing, and according to his ruling (the second opinion he cites), one would not be permitted to pray in a garment soiled by zera. Chayei Adam writes that this is the all the more true with regard to semen that is the product of sin (even unintentional), which is a mazkeres avon. Although he writes this with regard to tefillah, it can be extended to the circumstance of the question.

You need not apologize for asking the question, which is perfectly legitimate.

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