Is there a Mitzvah and Halachic obligation to visit Eretz Yisrael-Part 1?
A. The law:
Obligation: It is debated amongst the Poskim as to whether there is a positive Biblical command and obligation to dwell in Eretz Yisrael even during times of exile. According to all opinions, however, there is no obligation for one to simply visit Eretz Yisrael, if he does not plan to remain there and dwell there.
Mitzvah: There is a Mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisrael, even if it is not viewed as an obligation. Likewise, despite the above lack of obligation to visit Eretz Yisrael, some Poskim learn that there is a Mitzvah involved in visiting Eretz Yisrael even during times of exile, even though one plans to return to the Diaspora after his visitation. So is evident from the fact that the Sages state that whoever walks four Amos in Eretz Yisrael is guaranteed to receive a portion in the world to come. So was seen done by many Jews throughout the generations, and so was done by Gedolei Yisrael, who visited Eretz Yisrael, even though they did not plan on remaining there to live.
The intent of one’s travels: It is only considered a definite Mitzvah to visit Eretz Yisrael if the purpose of one’s travels is to merit to walk four cubits in Eretz Yisrael and receive a portion in the world to come. Furthermore, even if one’s main intent is for business purposes, it is possible to learn that this visitation is considered a Mitzvah. However, one who travels to Eretz Yisrael simply for the sake of vacation and leisure, it is questionable whether it is considered a Mitzvah being that he does not have any intent at all to be there for the sake of the mitzvah of walking in Eretz Yisrael. [Nonetheless, it is possible to argue that although his travels may not be considered to have a Mitzvah status, in actuality, when he walks four cubits in Eretz Yisrael, he is considered to fulfill the mitzvah even though this was not the initial intent of his travels. Vetzaruch Iyun. Practically, the Rebbe discouraged people from traveling to Eretz Yisrael simply for the sake of tourism and as a tourist attraction, being that it is the palace of the king, and therefore one should only visit if doing so will add in one’s holiness and fear of heaven.]
Eilat, and southern Israel: According to most Poskim, as is the opinion of the Rebbe, the city of Eilat is not considered part of Eretz Yisrael, and hence there is no Mitzvah to visit Eilat. The same applies to various areas in the southern desert of Eretz Yisrael, south of Beir Shiva, which are either not considered part of Eretz Yisrael, or are under debate as to whether they contain the status of Eretz Yisrael.
Coming up in future lessons:
- The Rebbes opinion regarding moving to, and visiting, Eretz Yisrael:
- The Mitzvah’s fulfilled upon visiting Eretz Yisrael:
- The Halachic leniencies given to the Mitzvah of visiting Eretz Yisrael:
- Halachic matters that one must be aware of when visiting Eretz Yisrael:
 See Encyclopedia Talmudit Vol. 2 Erech Eretz Yisrael p. 223; Likkutei Sichos Vol. 2 p. 619 Parshas Reiei; Shulchan Menachem Vol. 7 pp. 138-150
 See Kesubos 111a; Rambam Melachim 5:11; Encyclopedia Talmudit Vol. 2 Erech Eretz Yisrael 3 p. 223
See regarding the general Mitzvah of dwelling in Eretz Yisrael: Sifri Devarim 12:29; Tosefta Avoda Zara 5; See Likkutei Sichos ibid in name of Sefer Hachaim that there is no prohibition to live in the Diaspora if one thinks of and awaits the redemption.
The following Poskim rule that there is a Biblical Mitzvah and obligation [i.e. positive command] to dwell in Eretz Yisrael even during times of exile: Ramban Sefer Hamityzvos Hosafos of Mitzvas Asei 4; Ramban Bamidbar 33:53 and Vayikra 18:25; Sefer Chareidim 1 Mitzvos Hateluyos Ba’aretz 15; See Sefer Eretz Yisrael of Rav Mintzberg; Noam 16 p. 51 that all the Poskim from the Rif until the Shulchan Aruch rule like the Ramban; See Tashbeitz 3:288; Tashbeitz Katan 559; Maharit 2 Y.D. 28; Mabit 1:245 and 3:131; Minchas Chinuch in end of Sefer; Peas Hashulchan 1:14
The following Poskim rule that there is no obligation to dwell in Eretz Yisrael during times of exile: Rambam does not list this Mitzvah as part of the 613; Rebbe Chaim in Tosafus Kesubos 110b; Igros Moshe E.H. 3:102 [See there that according to most Poskim there is a mitzvah to dwell in Eretz Yisrael even during times of exile, although nonetheless even according to their opinion, this is not an obligation, and it is just that if one decides to live there then he fulfills a mitzvah, although he is not obligated to fulfill the Mitzvah and leave the Diaspora.] See Likkutei Sichos ibid in name of Sefarim that there is no obligation upon every single Jew to live in Jew to live in Eretz Yisrael, and hence we witness that many Gedolei Yisrael did not live in Eretz Yisrael.
 Maharit 2:28; Encyclopedia Talmudit Vol. 2 Erech Eretz Yisrael p. 223
 See regarding traveling within three days before Shabbos on a ship or Sharayah: Admur 248:9 “unless one is going for the sake of the mitzvah such as to make Aliyah to Eretz Yisrael”; Michaber 248:4; Razah in Hamaor Shabbos 19a; Rivash 17-18; Tashbeitz 1:21; See regarding a spouse who desires to move to Eretz Yisrael: Michaber E.H. 75:5
 Admur 248:9 “Even one who goes to Eretz Yisrael for the sake of business and not for the sake of settling there…some opinions say that it is also considered a mitzvah being that the sages state…”; M”A 248:15; Rivash ibid; Kneses Hagedola 248; Encyclopedia Talmudit Vol. 2 Erech Eretz Yisrael p. 223
 Admur 248:13; Rambam Melachim 5:11; Kesubos 111a; M”A 248:15; Rivash ibid; Kneses Hagedola 248
 The Rebbe Rayatz visited Eretz Yisrael in the year 1929. The Rebbe also testifies that slightly prior to his passing on Yud Shevat 1950, the Rebbe Rayatz stated to the Rebbe he that he desires to visit Eretz Yisrael. The Rebbe then asked his father-in-law as to how he can do so with so much work left to be done here in the Diaspora, to which the Rebbe Rayatz replied that it is a nice dream. The Rebbe exclaimed on this that in his thoughts the Rebbe Rayatz was already found in Eretz Yisrael. [See Toras Menachem 1 Achron Shel Pesach 5750 p. 26]
 See Admur Kuntrus Achron 248:8
 Heichal Menachem 3:270
 See Mitzvas HaShemita chapter 2; Encyclopedia Talmudit Vol. 2 p. 206 [Erech Eretz Yisrael]
 Kefar Chabad Gilyon 867; See Encyclopedia Talmudit Vol. 23 Erech Yom Tov Sheiyni p. 105 footnotes 1178-1179; Tevuos Ha’aretz p. 24; Orchos Rabbeinu 2:368; Ir Hakodesh Vihamikdash 3:19; Koveitz Noam 6. P. 1690