Halacha for Wednesday 2 Iyar 5781 April 14 2021

Fallen Soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces

On the night of the 25th of Tevet, 5736 (1976), a memorial service was held for seven young men killed in Zion Square in Jerusalem by Palestinian terrorists. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l spoke beautifully at this event and we shall thus quote some select excerpts from his discourse:

Our Sages taught that the death of young men is as terrible as the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash. This is especially true when these young men observed the Torah and Mitzvot properly. I have no words of consolation for the bereaved families for each of these boys was an entire world unto himself. Only the Healer of Broken Hearts can truly comfort them, as the verse states, “Like a man whose mother comforts him so shall I comfort you and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. Similarly, the verse states, “And when I passed over you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I told you, ‘In your blood, live!’ and I told you, ‘In your blood, live!’” The redundancy in the verse regarding the words “In your blood, live” is a reference to a life of building and creation and a life of Torah and knowledge, as the verse states, “If not for your Torah as my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.”

The verse in the Book of Yirmeya states, “Thus said Hashem: ‘A voice is heard in the heights, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, she refuses to be comforted for her children because they are not.’ Thus said Hashem: ‘Refrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work shall be rewarded says Hashem and they shall return from the land of the enemy. And there is hope for your future said Hashem and your children shall return to their own borders.’” The reason why it says twice “And they shall return from the land of the enemy” and “And they shall return to their own borders” is because there will be two returns to Zion, one will be leaving the various Middle Eastern lands from where Jews were persecuted occasionally throughout the years through massacres and decrees, such as from Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and other places. Even after the establishment of the State of Israel, this despicable bloodshed continues in the form of terrorist attacks and the killing of our beloved soldiers. Even in Yemen, poor Jews were taken and forcibly converted to Islam. Thus, the prophet states, “And they shall return from the land of the enemy” when the Jewish nation merits immigrating to the Land of Israel from these hostile countries. However, this return to the Land of Israel is still incomplete until the Jewish nation returns to a lifestyle observant of Torah and Mitzvot, i.e. returning to our true roots and heritage, and only then will there be “Hope for your future and your children shall return to their own borders”.  Only when the Jewish nation fulfills the will of Hashem are they called “children” (Kiddushin 36a) and regarding this does the verse states, “And your children shall return to their own borders”.

When our Sages said “The death of Jewish young men is as terrible as the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash” they meant to teach us an important lesson. The destruction of the Bet Hamikdash served as a form of salvation for the Jewish nation, for Hashem channeled his anger onto wood and stones as opposed to annihilating the Jewish nation. Nevertheless, Hashem cries and mourns over the destruction Bet Hamikdash, as Hashem says, “Woe unto me that I have destroyed my house and burned my sanctuary!” So too, with regards to the death of young Jewish men, especially those under the age of twenty regarding whom the holy Zohar states that that those who pass away before the age of twenty are passed into the hands of angels and every Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh they are brought up to the place of Hashem and Hashem blesses them. When Heavenly anger descends upon the world, Hashem gazes at these fine young men and has mercy upon the world.

This is why our Sages equate the death of young men to the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash, for here too, their death is not, G-d-forbid, in vain, for these young men atone for the entire generation and because of them, Hashem has mercy upon the Jewish nation and forgives them. Nevertheless, do not think that their death is not difficult and terrible in the eyes of Hashem, as the verse states, “Precious in the eyes of Hashem is the death of his pious ones.” Hashem himself will one day comfort the entire Jewish nation through the Ultimate Redemption and the Resurrection of the Dead, Amen.

Halacha Yomit: It is permissible and proper to recite a “Hashkava (memorial prayer) even on behalf of non-Jewish fallen soldiers of the IDF (such as from Israel’s Druze community), especially since they gave up their lives to protect the Jewish nation.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Mitzvah of Counting the Omer

The Torah states (Vayikra 21, 15): “And you shall count for yourselves, from the day following the Shabbat, from the day the waved Omer offering is brought, seven complete weeks shall they be.” Our Sages (Menachot 65b) have a tradition that the “day following the Shabbat” ref......

Read Halacha

Donating Tzedakah (Charity) in Order for One’s Son to Recover From an Illness

Question: Is it permissible to donate a sum of money to charity in the merit of which someone should become healed or for any other personal request or is it improper to do this since the Mitzvah is not being performed for the sake of Heaven, rather, for one’s personal purposes? Answer: The......

Read Halacha

Walking a Dog on Shabbat

Question: If one has a pet dog at home, either for leisure or as a seeing-eye dog for a blind individual, may one move it on Shabbat? Similarly, may one walk the dog in the street on Shabbat? Answer: We have explained in the previous Halacha that all animals are considered Muktzeh on Shabbat as M......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Chazzan’s Repetition of the Amida

-------------------------------- Along with the rest of the Jewish nation, we are heartbroken and mourn the loss of those who passed in the horrific Meron tragedy on Lag Ba’Omer. May their souls be bound in the binding of eternal life and may Hashem send consolation to their families and ma......

Read Halacha


Lag Ba’Omer (The 33rd Day of the Omer)

The 33rd day of the Omer is a day of festivity and rejoicing in honor of the saintly Tanna, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. There are indeed sources for this among the Poskim. We are therefore customarily more joyous than usual on this day and we do not recite Tachanun (supplication prayers). This year, 57......

Read Halacha

Moving Animals on Shabbat

Question: May one move domesticated birds that live in a cage on Shabbat in order to move the cage from place to place as necessary? Similarly, may one remove a dead fish from one’s aquarium on Shabbat? Answer: The Gemara (Shabbat 128b) states that it is forbidden to move or carry any anima......

Read Halacha

Tying Tzitzit Strings and Plastic Cable Ties on Shabbat

In the previous Halachot we have discussed some basic laws of tying and untying knots on Shabbat. The general rule is any knot that is either “professional,” i.e. requires some skill to make, or “permanent,” i.e. is meant to last for a prolonged amount of time, is forbidden t......

Read Halacha

Question: How many “Kezayit”s (olive’s volume) of Matzah must one consume during the Pesach Seder?

Answer: One is obligated to eat altogether three “Kezayit”s of Matzah during the Pesach Seder. Every Kezayit amounts to approx. 30 grams of Matzah. Nevertheless, there is room for stringency to eat four or even five “Kezayit”s of Matzah, as we shall now explain. The Order......

Read Halacha