A film that helps Orthodox Jews grapple with the “taboo” of sex and masturbation has drawn attention while touring the US festival circuit.
‘Sacred Sperm,’ an hour-long documentary, came about because father-of-six director Ori Gruder, 44, struggled to explain elements of sexuality to his sons.
Under Orthodox Judaism, sex is viewed as a sacred ‘mitzvah’ permissible only in marriage, while masturbation is seen as a violation and is forbidden.
“One who spills his seed literally kills his sons,” a rabbi declares to camera.
Gruder, an Israeli whose film has already been shown in London, explains the theological ban on spilling sperm. The reproductive organ is called the “covenant,” so spilling one’s seed is “damaging the covenant” and abstaining from masturbation is “guarding the covenant.”
The documentary follows Gruder’s friends, including Rabbi Yisrael Aharon Itzkovitz, who says he buys underpants several sizes too big in case a snug accidentally stimulates him. He also says many Orthodox men do not touch themselves when they urinate, even if this means they miss.
Judaism expert Menachem Friedman said the documentary offered a unique “anthropological window” into the ultra-Orthodox world.