Visiting Eretz Yisrael:
A. Is there a Mitzvah and Halachic obligation to visit Eretz Yisrael:
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.
The Rebbes opinion regarding moving to, and visiting, Eretz Yisrael:
In a public talk in the year 1955, the Rebbe discouraged the campaign of encouraging every Jew from leaving the Diaspora for the sake of fulfilling the Mitzvah of dwelling in Eretz Yisrael due to several factors. One of the mitigating factors for the negation is the fact that the Poskim rule that one must be more careful in his religious observance when he lives in Eretz Yisrael, and if he will not be more careful, then he is not to travel to Eretz Yisrael.
The requirement for a “spiritual visa”: Accordingly, the Rebbe stated on a number of occasions that one must have a spiritual visa from G-d to be allowed to visit Eretz Yisrael, which means that he is of proper spiritual stature and observance to be allowed entry into G-d’s personal palace.
The need to add in Torah observance while there: The Rebbe thus directed individuals who planned to visit Eretz Yisrael that they should add in their observance of Torah and Mitzvos while they are there, and that this addition should be done daily during their stay.
Greater evil inclination: The Rebbe stated that dwelling in Eretz Yisrael is a great responsibility. The Rebbe stated that in Eretz Yisrael there is a much stronger evil inclination which challenge people in their religious observance, and it is unclear if the people who successively overcome their inclination in the diaspora will be successful in doing so also in Eretz Yisrael.
Sins are more severe: The Rebbe stated that a sin in Eretz Yisrael is considered a lot more severe by G-d than that same sin that is transgressed in the diaspora.
Visiting for tourism purposes: 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.
Better use the money for charity: In one letter, the Rebbe discouraged an individual from visiting Eretz Yisrael due to the lack of foreseen benefit of such travels, and due to that since he plans on staying in Eretz Yisrael for several months, it enters him into the unnecessary question of whether he is now allowed to leave Eretz Yisrael. The Rebbe stated to the individual that since there is no foreseen benefit in his travels, it is better to use the money which he allocated for the travels for purposes of charity. Certainly, he should not enter himself into financial distress in order to make the travels.
Not to stay for more than 30 days: The Rebbe directed individuals visiting Eretz Yisrael to not remain there for thirty consecutive days, due to it entering him into the unnecessary question of whether he is now allowed to leave Eretz Yisrael. This will be further discussed in D.
Studying the laws prior to travel: Prior to travel to Eretz Yisrael, one should study all the laws relevant to Eretz Yisrael that are not fulfilled in the Diaspora.
B. The Mitzvah’s fulfilled upon visiting Eretz Yisrael:
The following are a list of Mitzvos fulfilled, or which can be potentially fulfilled, upon visiting Eretz Yisrael.
- There is a Mitzvah to walk four Amos in Eretz Yisrael, as whoever walks four Amos in Eretz Yisrael receives a portion in the world to come.
- One who visits Eretz Yisrael has the capability of fulfilling many Mitzvos that cannot be fulfilled in the Diaspora, including:
- Teruma Umaaser. [The Rebbe encouraged those visiting Eretz Yisrael to fulfill the mitzvah of Teruma Umaaser with a blessing. This can be acheived by asking a friend in Eretz Yisrael who owns a fruit tree to give him one of his fruits in order for him to fulfill the mitzvah. It cannot be fulfilled with a blessing when buying a fruit in the market, as fruit from the market has a status of Safek Tevel, of which a blessing cannot be recited upon tithing it.]
- Hafrashas Challah on a similar to Biblical level.
- Arlah restrictions from a Biblical scriptural level.
- Neta Rivaiy according to all opinions.
- Kilei Hakerem and Kilei Zeraim restrictions.
- Chadash restrictions apply according to all in Eretz Yisrael.
- Reishis Hageiz.
- Aliyah Leregel: Even after the destruction of the Temple, the custom was to gather from all the surrounding cities of Jerusalem and visit the Temple for the festival. This is done even today. One who visits Eretz Yisrael during any of the Shalosh Regalim has ability to fulfill this mitzvah.
C. The Halachic leniencies given to the Mitzvah of visiting Eretz Yisrael:
We find certain Halachic ramifications, and leniencies, associated with the Mitzvah to visit Eretz Yisrael:
- Allowance to travel even within three days before Shabbos: One who travels to Eretz Yisrael, is considered to be traveling for the sake of a Mitzvah, and may hence travel on a ship or caravan even within three days before Shabbos.
D. Halachic matters that one must be aware of when visiting Eretz Yisrael:
One who visits Eretz Yisrael must especially be careful to avoid transgressions and sins, and to fulfill not only the Mitzvah’s that are relevant even in the Diaspora, but also the Mitzvos relevant specifically to Eretz Yisrael [i.e. Mitzvos Hateluyos Ba’aretz]. Accordingly, prior to travel, one should study all the laws relevant to Eretz Yisrael that are not fulfilled in the Diaspora. Some Poskim rule that if one is unsure if he will be capable of avoiding transgression and guarding the laws relevant to Eretz Yisrael, then he is to avoid visiting it altogether.
The following are list of matters that one is to be aware of:
- Terumos Umaasros: All produce which is grown by Jews in the Halachic territory of Eretz Yisrael is obligated to be tithed. Thus, one may not purchase and eat fruits and vegetables, legumes and grains, from a random store in Israel, and rather one must verify that it contains a reliable Hashgacha. If it does not contain a Hashgacha, or does not contain a reliable Hashgacha, then one is to remove the Terumos Umaasros on his own without a blessing. The Rebbe encouraged those who visit Eretz Yisrael that they should make a point of separating Terumos and Maasros with a blessing from Tevel Vadaiy in order to merit this unique Mitzvah.
- Arla: While the three-year Arla restriction on fruits of a tree applies even in the Diaspora, in the Diaspora one may be lenient in a case of doubt and hence it is permitted for one to purchase fruit in the Diaspora it from any random store, even if it does not contain a Hashgacha, and one has not verified its Arla status. However, in Eretz Yisrael, Safeik Arla is forbidden, and hence one may not purchase fruits [especially fruits with high Arla percentage] from a random store unless it contains a reliable Hashgacha which verifies that the stores produce is clean of any Arla fruits
- Meiyn Gimel: In the Diaspora, one who eats fruits of the seven Minim [i.e. dates, figs, pomegranates, olives, grapes] concludes the blessing with the words “Al Ha’aretz Veal Hapeiros.” However, in Eretz Yisrael, one concludes the blessing with the words “Al Ha’aretz Veal Peiroseha,” [and on wine, Al Peri Gafnah]. See here for the full details of this law: https://shulchanaruchharav.com/?s=peiroseha&ht-kb-search=1&lang=
- Keria upon seeing old city Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount: One who sees the old city of Jerusalem in its destroyed state, or sees the Temple Mount, is required to perform Keria to his shirt. One is to tear it one Tefach and is never to properly resew it. Some Poskim rule one is to recite the blessing of Baruch Dayan Haemes without Hashem’s name upon seeing the above areas and performing the Keriah. [When the Rebbe Rayatz visited Yerushalyim he performed Keriah, and recited the blessing of Baruch Dayan Haemes without Hashem’s name.] See here for the full details of this law: https://shulchanaruchharav.com/halacha/visiting-the-temple-area-keria-temple-mount-western-wall-aliya-liregel/
- The blessings and verses to be said upon seeing the various places in Jerusalem: One who sees the Temple Mount [the area of the Dome of the Rock] is to say “Beis Kadsheinu Vesifarteinu Asher Haleuch Bah Avoseinu Haysa Lesreifas Eish Vechaol Machaneinu Haysa Lecharva”. One is then to perform Keriah. One who sees [the old city of] Jerusalem from close proximity in a destructive state, is to say “Tziyon Haysa Midbar Shemama” and perform Keriah. This applies from the area of Mount Scopus [Har Hatzofim] and onwards.
- Visiting the Temple Mount: Gedolei Yisrael from all spectrums of Jewry prohibit visitation to the Temple Mount, including to those areas which have been determined to not be part of the Halachic Har Habayis and are not restricted in entry. See here for the full details of this law: https://shulchanaruchharav.com/halacha/visiting-the-temple-area-keria-temple-mount-western-wall-aliya-liregel/
- Not to stay for more than 30 days: It is forbidden for one who lives in Eretz Yisrael to leave it without justifiable reason. Accordingly, one who stays for 30 consecutive days in Eretz Yisrael enters into the Halachic question as to whether he is allowed to now leave Eretz Yisrael, and as to whether under what circumstances his leaving is permitted. Thus, the Rebbe discouraged people from remaining 30 consecutive days in Eretz Yisrael, and those who are forced to do so should visit Eilat in the interim, before the passing of 30 consecutive days. [Vetzaruch Iyun based on these directives, as to the basis of boys who come to Yeshiva, and girls who come to seminary for the year in Eretz Yisrael, and are not careful in the above. However, seemingly, the reason is due to Bittul Torah.]
 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
 See Shulchan Menachem Vol. 7 pp. 138-150; Shaareiy Eretz Yisrael [Heichal Menachem] p. 247 and onwards; Likkutei Sichos Vol. 2 p. 619; 12 p. 257; Toras Menachem 15:111; 16:353; Igros Kodesh 13:193; 15:452; 16:353; 18:404; 19:49; 26:444
 Printed in Likkutei Sichos Vol. 2 p. 619
 Rebbe Chaim in Tosafus Kesubos 110b; Tashbeitz Katan 559; See Igros Moshe E.H. 3:102
 See Likkutei Sichos ibid and Vol. 12 p. 257
 See Likkutei Sichos Vol. 12 p. 257; Toras Menachem 15:111; Igros Kodesh 13:193; 19:49; 26:444
 Igros Kodesh 15:452; 19:49; 26:444
 Likkutei Sichos Vol. 12 p. 257
 Toras Menachem 16:353
 Heichal Menachem 3:270
 Igros Kodesh 18:404
 Sichas Gimel Tamuz 5716 p. 290
 Admur 248:13; Rambam Melachim 5:11; Kesubos 111a; M”A 248:15; Rivash 17-18; Kneses Hagedola 248
 See Encyclopedia Talmudit Vol. 2 Erech Eretz Yisrael p. 218
 Igros Kodesh 15:452
 Admur 117:1 in parentheses; Levush 117:1; Ran Taanis 2a; Midrash Shir Hashirim 4:2 “Just as a dove returns to visit its destroyed nest, so too the Jewish people visit the Temple during Shalosh Regalim even after the destruction; Sefer Chassidim 630 “Rav Haiy Gaon would travel to Yerushalayim from Bavel to be there for Sukkos”; Kaftor Vaferach 6 “We are accustomed together with the lands of Syria, and Egypt to visit the Yerushalyim by the Moadim”; Maharit 1:134; Maharitz Chayos on Nedarim 23a; Tashbatz 3:201; Maharalbach; Yaavetz 1:87; Chasam Sofer Hesped after Parshas Emor “It is a Mitzvah to visit Lalos Liregel even today”; Chasam Sofer Y.D. 233; Avos Harosh 1:117; Sdei Chemed Mareches Eretz Yisrael 1; Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:122; Piskeiy Teshuvos 529:13; Yechaveh Daas 1/25 “Certainly there is a Mitzvah also today”; Or Letziyon 3:24-12
 See Michaber and Admur Chapter 248
 Sichas Gimel Tamuz 5716 p. 290
 Tashbeitz Katan 559; Rebbe Chaim in Tosafus Kesubos 110; Igros Moshe E.H. 3 102
 See Shulchan Aruch Y.D. Chapter 331 for all details relating to this law
 Igros Kodesh 15:452
 Admur Seder Birchas Hanehnin 1:12 [omitted from Luach and from Admur in Siddur]; Michaber 208:10; Brachos 44a; Ketzos Hashulchan 60:2; Ben Ish Chaiy Maasei 1:1; See Igros Kodesh 15:439, printed in Shulchan Menachem 1:338; Piskeiy Teshuvos 208:15
The reason this ruling of Admur is omitted in his Siddur: Some suggest that the reason Admur omitted the above Nussach from his Siddur is because his Siddur mainly focuses on the customs of the Diaspora, and omits laws relevant to Eretz Yisrael [as is seen regarding the Musaf for Yom Tov prayer], and hence no negation or retraction from the above ruling can be derived from the omission. [See Igros Kodesh 15:439 for a similar point regarding that no inference can be made from Admur’s omission here of Al Michyasa and Peri Gafna; Rav Avraham Elyashvili in Seder footnote 96]
 Michaber 561:1-5; Moed Katan 26
 Bach 561 regarding Mikdash; M”B 5616; Kaf Hachaim 561:5
 Masa Harebbe Lieretz Hakodesh 7; See Hiskashrus 262
 Bach 561; Peas Hashulchan 3:2; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 561 footnote 9 that some say one is to see the floor of the Azara.
 Michaber 561:2; Moed Katan ibid
 Sefer Eretz Yisrael [Tukichinsky] 22:2
 Rama 561:1
 Michaber 561:2
 Michaber ibid and Rama 561:1
 See Michaber 511:6 and M”B 511:14; Rambam Melachim 5:9; Kesubos 11a; Avoda Zara 13a; Kiddushin 31b; Likkutei Sichos 15/202 footnote 15; 18:399; 25:151; Shulchan Menachem 7:147-148
 See Sichos Kodesh 5716 34, 2nd day of Chag Shavuos p. 276; Sichas night of Gimel Tamuz p. 290; Igros Kodesh 18:404; Gilyon Kefar Chabad 93 p. 12; 867
Source behind thirty days: See regarding the definition of a Toshav regarding Tzedaka that it is defined as thirty days: Admur 429:5; Michaber Y.D. 256:5; Bava Basra 8a; Rambam Matanos Aniyim 9:12; Rashba 667
 See Igros Kodesh 18:404; Sichas Gimel Tammuz 5716 p. 290 that the Rebbe instructed his emissaries which he sent to visit Eretz Yisrael that they should stay for less than 30 days in order not to enter into the Halachic questions of whether they may then leave Eretz Yisrael if they stay for longer.
 Kfar Chabad 93 p. 12; 867