Matan-ya Bar-Lev was born on April 20, 1948 to Ben-Zion and Miriam in New York. Before he was a year old he returned to Israel with his parents. In Jerusalem he studied at the Rothschild Elementary School and at the Netiv Meir High School where he was active in the Bnei Akiva youth movement. as a counselor. He then studied at the Or Etzion Hesder Yeshiva.
Matan-ya was drafted into the Armored Corps in June 1988. After successfully completing a tank commander's course, he died on March 14, 1989, on his way to represent his unit at an IDF national contest on knowledge of the country and the history of its wars. He was buried in Mt. Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem.