Lieutenant-Colonel Avihud Schwartz, head of the Department of Halacha in the IDF Rabbinate; Rabbi Prof. Avraham Steinberg; and Colonel Chaim Weisberg, deputy to the Chief Rabbi of the IDF Rabbinate

By Toby Klein Greenwald

Several events hosting Rabbi Professor Avraham Steinberg, head of the editorial board of the Talmudic Encyclopedia and director of Yad Harav Herzog, will be held at the Bnai Yeshurun Congregation in Teaneck, N.J., on the Shabbat and Motzei Shabbat of Parshat Mishpatim, February 10, 2024. On Shabbat he will speak on the topic of “Medicine and Halacha” and on Motzei Shabbat on “War in the Light of Halacha,” which is also the title of a new volume of the Encyclopedia.

The Rabbi will also be a guest speaker at the Chemed Medical and Ethics Conference ( in Stamford CT. on February 16-18.

Additional events were held in January at the Clanton Park Community in Toronto, Canada, in the Young Israel of Scarsdale, NY, and in the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst.

At a moving ceremony at the headquarters of the IDF’s Military Rabbinate on January 3, 2024, in the presence of senior officers and heads of the Talmudic Encyclopedia, the first 3,000 copies of the new volume of the Talmudic Encyclopedia were presented. The entire volume is dedicated to topics related to “War in the Light of Halacha.” The Encyclopedia will be placed in each of the IDF synagogues and made available to all permanent and reserve military rabbis.

The free distribution of the titles was made possible thanks to the donations of six generous Torah-loving donors, each of whom funded the purchase of 500 titles for distribution in the IDF. The donors are from Israel as well as from New York, Los Angeles and Miami.

The second edition of “The War in the Light of Halacha” is now being printed, and on behalf of the Encyclopedia’s administration, it was stated that the demand for the new book is high and from among broad circles of the public – national religious, ultra-Orthodox, traditional, and secular — who show an interest in Jewish and halachic issues.

In order to distribute the book in the various communities in Israel and around the world, the board of the Encyclopedia enables the purchase of a certain number of books to dedicate to the commemoration of one or more specific soldiers who have fallen in the war.

The first soldier to have a special edition bear his name and commemorate him is Col. Yonatan Steinberg, of blessed memory, Brigadier General of the Nahal Brigade, who fell on October 7th while defending the Gaza Strip.

Col. Steinberg had previously served as the commander of the Center for Tactical Training in the IDF, the commander of the Binyamin Brigade, the Assistant Brigade Commander (Operations) of the Steel Formation, and the commander of Battalion 931. He had studied at Horev Yeshiva High School in Jerusalem and in the Ma’ale Eliyahu Yeshiva in Tel Aviv.  He lived in the community of Shomria with his wife and six children. Shomria is a former secular kibbutz that was resettled mostly by members of the community of Atzmona, who had been uprooted from their homes in Gush Katif in  2005. Col. Steinberg’s wife, Yisca, had grown up and lived in Atzmona before their marriage.

The editor-in-chief of the encyclopedia, Rabbi Prof. Avraham Steinberg [no relation to Col. Yonatan Steinberg], recipient of the Israel Prize, said that the new volume joins the “Treasures of the Encyclopedia” series, in which each volume is dedicated to a unique topic, and is based on the relevant entries for it that appeared in the 51 encyclopedia volumes that saw light until now: Chanuka, Yom Kippur, the Passover Haggadah and more.

Therefore, there are six central and comprehensive topics of “War in the Light of the Halacha” that appear, based on existing volumes of the Encyclopedia, and three more topics that have been added.

Prof. Steinberg: “The difficult war that was forced upon us on the very holy day of Sh’mini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, that fell on Shabbat, in which thousands of ‘b’nei beli’al,’ villains, members of Hamas-ISIS from Gaza, attacked the Jewish residents of the ‘Gaza envelope’ communities, created a need for a study of the issues of the war in the light of Halacha. In the beginning of the volume dedicated to this study, there appears a concise summary of the halachot relating to the war of ‘Ezrat Yisrael Mi’yad Tsar,’ ‘Saving Jews from their oppressors’ which is the halachic definition of the current war.

“In the second section we have placed the topics ‘War’ and ‘Orchei Milhama’ (which relates to who are the people required to go to war and who are those who are exempt) from volume 30 of the Talmudic Encyclopedia, along with an Appendix on the halachic issues related to the war, authored by Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin zt’l, the first editor and the one who lay out the blueprint for the organization of the Talmudic Encyclopedia.

“In the third section, the entries from the Talmudic Encyclopedia dealing with social issues were added: ‘Ahavat Yisrael’ – ‘the Love of Israel,’ ‘Mahloket’ – ‘Discord,’ and ‘Ona’at D’varim’.” [The definition of Ona’at D’varim’ is 1. Hurtful talk, e.g. saying something to make someone feel badly for no reason, and 2. Deception, e.g. leading someone to think you want to buy their product when you have zero intention to do so. – TKG] Rabbi Steinberg adds, “These topics are important in the face of the need to reform Israeli society.


“We believe that this volume will contribute to the strengthening of the spiritual and Torani resilience of the IDF and Am Yisrael, and we hope and wish, with God’s help, for an overwhelming victory and good news of salvation and comfort.”

For more information, contact Beni Gur, or the website of the Talmudic Encyclopedia: The writer, an award-winning journalist, wishes to thank members of the Jerusalem Translators Group for their assistance in translation of various halachic terms.





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