Cpl. Netanel Yahalomi, who was killed on the Egyptian border on Friday, had an unusual nickname: His army buddies called him "Halakhic Man" - the title of a well-known book by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik that describes Soloveitchik's view of how the ideal religious Jew thinks and acts.
"It was very important to him to integrate Torah study into everything he did," related his sister, Avital, after Yahalomi's battalion commander - who came to pay a condolence call at the family's home in Nof Ayalon, near Modi'in - told them of the nickname. "Even when he came home, it was important to him to learn Torah. He was a man of truth."
His mother, Tova, said she had spoken to him just the day before he died.
"He said he'd gotten a package from home that we'd sent him," containing good things to eat, Avital said. "He was home two weeks ago, and was supposed to come again only on Sukkot. He was supposed to be in the army for Yom Kippur.
"We sent him the package because we wanted him to have a good holiday. He was very sorry he wouldn't be able to pray with a minyan [a quorum of 10 men] on Rosh Hashanah, but told us he was excited because they managed to blow the shofar."
Blowing the shofar, or ram's horn, is the centerpiece of the Rosh Hashanah prayer service.
Netanel, the third of Shmuel and Tova Yahalomi's six children, was in a hesder program, which combines army service with yeshiva study - in his case, at the yeshiva in Ma'alot. Avital said he rarely spoke to his family of the dangers of serving on the Egyptian border.
"He never agreed to tell us exactly what he did in the army," she said. "He said he was forbidden to tell us anything."
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