Return to main index

H7. Castration.    [Make a Comment]

We are not to castrate a male human being other than for medical necessity.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scripture

Leviticus 22:24 (Maimonides RN361; Meir MN143; Chinuch C291)
An animal with bruised, crushed, torn or cut genitals you are not to offer to ADONAI. You are not to do these things in your land.

Supportive Scriptures

Leviticus 21:17-23
Tell Aharon, 'None of your descendants who has a defect may approach to offer the bread of his God. No one with a defect may approach - no one blind, lame, with a mutilated face or a limb too long, a broken foot or a broken arm, a hunched back, stunted growth, a cataract in his eye, festering or running sores, or damaged testicles - no one descended from Aharon the cohen who has such a defect may approach to present the offerings for ADONAI made by fire; he has a defect and is not to approach to offer the bread of his God. He may eat the bread of his God, both the especially holy and the holy; only he is not to go in to the curtain or approach the altar, because he has a defect - so that he will not profane my holy places, because I am ADONAI, who makes them holy.

Deuteronomy 23:2
A man with crushed or damaged private parts may not enter the assembly of ADONAI.


Castration is removing or doing irreparable damage to a male's testicles. There is no specific commandment in Scripture prohibiting the castration of human beings or animals, but we surmise it with regard to men from the Scriptures cited that impute holiness-connected disabilities to castrated men and beasts. Castrated men were prohibited from entering the assembly of the Lord and could not serve as priests, and castrated animals could not be used for sacrifice in the Temple.

So far as I am aware, men-slaves are no longer castrated to produce eunuchs for guarding harams or young boys castrated to preserve their soprano, mezzo-soprano or contralto voices. Nevertheless, our society does neuter male animals to change their behavior, their size, or their tenderness when used for food. For example, steer meat comes from a castrated bull, a capon "chicken" is a castrated rooster, and an ox is a steer that has been bred for work. Castrating animals or fowls does not appear to prohibit their being considered kosher for food.

Castration of men is occasionally done for medical reasons (e.g. cancer), and our various societies have, on occasion, castrated especially sex offenders as part of a punitive process.

Classical Commentators

Maimonides, Meir, and HaChinuch state that Leviticus 22:24 (despite it not saying so) prohibits castrating a male of any species whatsoever. Also, Maimonides and HaChinuch (not Meir) reference Leviticus 2:11 and Leviticus 6:10(17), neither of which seem to have relevance to the subject of castration.


Return to main index