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

Salt on the Table

Question: Is there a halachic necessity to have salt placed on the table before reciting the Hamotzi blessing and is it necessary to observe this custom on weekdays as well? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 40a) states: “Rava bar Shmuel said in the name of Rav Chiya: One may not recite the Hamo......

Read Halacha

Question: May one eat bread without washing one’s hands if one does not touch the bread with one’s hands directly and instead holds it with a napkin and like?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Chullin (107b) states: “The Sages permitted a cloth (i.e. they permitted eating bread without first washing one’s hands by wrapping one’s hands in a cloth) for those eating Terumah (meaning that during the time when the Bet Hamikdash still stood, befo......

Read Halacha

Eating without First Washing One’s Hands

In the previous Halacha, we have explained that one may not be lenient and nullify the edict of washing one’s hands prior to eating bread; even if one does not touch the bread with one’s hands directly and merely holds it with gloves or a napkin, one may still not defy this edict. If one......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Washing One’s Hands for a Bread Meal

The Enactment of Washing One’s Hands for a Bread Meal There is a rabbinic enactment to wash one’s hands before sitting down to eat a bread meal. The Mishnah in Masechet Eduyot (Chapter 5) relates that Rabbi Eliezer ben Chanoch was excommunicated for having raised doubts about the necess......

Read Halacha


The “Asher Yatzar” Blessing vs. Birkat Hamazon

Question: In the previous Halacha, we have discussed if one becomes obligated to recite an after-blessing on food and before he does so, he uses the facilities and becomes obligated to recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing, one should recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing first and......

Read Halacha

Question: If one becomes obligated to recite an after-blessing after eating any food (for instance, by eating a Kezayit, approximately twenty-seven grams, of fruit) and before reciting the after-blessing, one used the facilities and becomes obligated to recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing, which blessing must one recite first: Should one first recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing or the after-blessing on the food one ate?

Answer: This question has already been discussed by the Maharshal (Rabbeinu Shlomo Luria, one of the foremost Acharonim who lived approximately five-hundred years ago in Eastern Poland and authored the Sefer Yam Shel Shlomo and others) in his responsa (Chapter 97) and writes that if one becomes obli......

Read Halacha

A Power Outage on Shabbat

Question: Last Shabbat, there was a power outage and for six hours, we had no electricity. Later on in the day when the problem was repaired, the Plata (electric hotplate) turned back on. Is it permissible to eat the foods that were warmed on the hotplate? Answer: Regarding the aforementioned mat......

Read Halacha

Reciting Birkat Hamazon in the Place One Has Eaten

Question: Is one obligated to recite Birkat Hamazon specifically where one has eaten bread or may one recite this blessing elsewhere? Answer: One who eats a bread meal must recite Birkat Hamazon in the place where one has eaten and one may not go to a different place and recite the blessing there......

Read Halacha