Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik
by R. Aharon Ziegler
Rav Soloveitchik was very meticulous and stringent in every phase of Hilchot Tefillah, the laws of prayer. He often cited the Rambam (Tefillah 5:1) that eight specific aspects of prayer must be adhered to while standing for Shemoneh Esrei. The first four are: Amidah, standing; Nochach HaMikdash, facing Eretz Yisrael; Tikun HaGuf, feet together and clean body; and Tikun HaMalbushim, proper and dignified attire.
He was once visited by a student who served in the Israel Defense Forces who asked the Rav the following question: He worked in the tank division and his job was cleaning and maintaining the tanks. Often, his uniform would get covered in oil and grime and he wanted to know if he needed to change clothing before davening Mincha. He emphasized that it would be possible to do so but it would be quite inconvenient and difficult. The Rav looked at him in amazement and said out loud, “Why would you need to change? You are wearing bigdei Kodesh, holy clothes”!
That is how the Rav felt about someone serving in the the Israel Defense Forces.