The Torah provides that a Jewish soldier may, by following a specific process, take a woman captive as his wife and convert her to Judaism as an אשת יפת תואר (Devarim 21:10-14).

Is this provision currently in effect in the modern day? For example, would a Jewish Israeli soldier participating in the 2023 military actions in Gaza be permitted to take a gentile Gazan woman as an Eshet Yefat To'ar? Now, obviously, our hypothetical soldier should first CHLOR and also check current Israeli military regulations on relations with the enemy, but assuming all of those things were done and were favorable, would it be permitted under the Torah?

Alternatively, if Reuven is serving in the Russian Army today, and he finds a gentile Ukrainian woman he takes a fancy to while fighting in the war there, would the law apply? Obviously, he would have to first get Putin's permission according to dina d'malkhuta dina, but supposing he did get such permission, would Torah law then permit him to complete the acquisition?

Obvious possible answers:

  • The law applies to the present day.
  • The law applies to the present day only for wars fought in Eretz Yisrael and/or as part of a majority Jewish military force.
  • The law does not apply today.

2 Answers 2


R Eliezer Melamed (here) addresses your question and writes it is not in effect anymore

In any event, seeing as the heter of eshet yefat toar is against the evil inclination so as to regulate the behavior of a soldier under cruel and evil societal conditions, thus saving him from transgressing more serious prohibitions.

Today, thanks to the positive influence of the Torah’s morality the laws of war among Western nations have changed for the better, both from the aspect of the status of members of defeated populations lives’ not being handed over as property to the occupiers, and also, given that military laws are enforced more effectively on soldiers.

[As such] the heter of eshet yefat toar is null and void. The law has returned to its former position, that it is forbidden for a man and a woman to maintain sexual relations outside the framework of marriage in accordance with halakha.

  • 1
    Quite the chiddush
    – shmosel
    Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 19:45
  • @shmosel not necessarily: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/133142/…
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 14:57
  • 2
    @RabbiKaii So the third temple won't have sacrifices now that society is so over that?
    – shmosel
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 18:37
  • 1
    @shmosel did you see the Rambam in Maurice's answer? That may indicate yes, according to that understanding of that opinion
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 18:38
  • 1
    @RabbiKaii The Rambam doesn't say mitzvos are voided once they're determined to be anachronistic. That's what the Reform say.
    – shmosel
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 19:32

That is specifically said by a milchama in Eretz Yisrael - meaning right now we have no malchus, we are officially kicked out of Eretz Yisroel - there happens to be a country ran by Jews there, but just like shemitah midioraisa doesn't apply just because there is a country in Eretz Yisroel that happens to be ran by Jews, the concept of milchemes reshus etc. wouldn't apply.

  • 2
    Poskim discuss whether shemitta will be again dorayta once a majority of Jews will live in Eretz Israel
    – mbloch
    Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 15:15
  • Re status of this war as a milchemes mitzvah, see judaism.stackexchange.com/a/137996/11501
    – mbloch
    Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 15:16
  • @mbloch I'm not farmiliar with that, that sounds quite interesting - were could I read up on it? But either way we aren't at that point, but my point is that a state that happens to be ran by Jews which is in the land of Israel does not reapply the dinim of malchus. Even by a milchemes reshus they would ask the Urim Vetumim - it wasn't like the modern state of Israel just with a beis hamikdash. It was a whole different metzius.
    – Kovy Jacob
    Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 15:17
  • 4
    Why would eshes yefas to'ar only apply to a milchemes mitzva? Or even only in eretz Yisrael?
    – Lo ani
    Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 18:30
  • 3
    @RabbiKaii that should be sourced, then
    – Lo ani
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 15:08

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