I have heard several different explanations from secondhand sources as to why the Lubavitcher Rebe zt''l didn't visit Israel. Did he ever explicitly state his reasons for not going?

  • 1
    I have no source, but I have heard it said that the reason he never gave an explicit reason for not going was so as to not be motzi shem ra on his father-in-law, who visited Palestine (1934) but who left it to live in Poland.
    – Shimon bM
    Feb 23, 2015 at 21:35
  • @ShimonbM He went in 1929 (he was on the boat out when the Chevron pogrom happened) Feb 23, 2015 at 21:38
  • Also the previous Rebbe said that he went because he had no "Ohel" (graves of ancestors) to go to as they were all in Russia. Feb 23, 2015 at 21:38

5 Answers 5


Here is a posting giving the reason that the Rebbe stated.

Why didn't the Rebbe ever visit Israel?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

[It is important to note that since the Rebbe took leadership of the Chabad movement in 1951, he never took a day off, and never traveled outside of New York.]

There are several possible reasons for why the Rebbe never visited Israel; some of them were voiced by the Rebbe himself in private on various occasions.

Halachically it is forbidden to leave the Land of Israel (although there are some loop-holes to this prohibition).

If the Rebbe would have visited Israel he would have been compelled to stay there, something which he did not want to do for the following reasons:

  1. The gravesite of his father-in-law, the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, is in New York City. It is the custom of Chabad Rebbes to go to the gravesite(s) of their predecessor(s) to intercede on behalf of all those who need blessings and prayers.

  2. The majority of Jews live in the United States. Certainly it would have been to Rebbe's personal advantage to move to the land of Israel and enjoy its holiness, but the Rebbe, the selfless leader of world Jewry wasn't concerned with his own welfare and spiritual advancement, rather he chose to remain in the location where he could maximize his influence on his fellow Jews. As the old adage goes, "the captain is always the last one off the sinking ship!"

Incidentally, the Rebbe demanded this sacrifice from his Chassidim as well. The Rebbe reiterated on many occasions that someone who lives outside of the Land of Israel, but is in a position where he/she is a positive influence on others, helping them in studying Torah or doing Mitzvot, it is his obligation to stay in his community and continue with this holy work.

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    Interesting that all of this says he communicated it "in private"; I've seen this source but I was looking to see if he ever explicitly stated something.
    – user5540
    Jan 4, 2015 at 19:14

In his own words (on video) here in Hebrew with English subtitles (the second half of the video). He states two reasons.

1) Lack of solid Halachic authority to return if he did go to visit, and decreased influence over American Jews and newly arriving Jewish immigrants to America if he stayed in Israel permanently.

2) Concern about sending a message to Jews in America that it is better to be in America, since they would say he regretted leaving America.

  • I have always understood the reason to be the first part of your #1 -- that the Rebbe didn't know if he would have halachic authority to return if he did visit Israel. I remember seeing a video of him tell someone this during Sunday dollars. He even told the guy that if the guy could find him a halachic source giving permission to return afterwards, he would go.
    – SAH
    Feb 23, 2015 at 21:06
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    @SAH, the video I linked is the Sunday dollars visit you are thinking of.
    – Yishai
    Feb 23, 2015 at 21:07
  • Sorry! Should have watched it first...
    – SAH
    Feb 24, 2015 at 1:09

This might be hearsay, but I heard that he never visited because he was afraid that the holiness of the land was too much for him to leave, and then he wouldn't be able to return to his hassidim in America who needed him.

  • 3
    I've heard that too, but I was looking if there was an explicitly given reason.
    – user5540
    Jan 4, 2015 at 19:14
  • I'm interested in a written source for this interpretation; AFAYK is there one?
    – SAH
    Feb 24, 2015 at 1:11

When someone asked the Baba Sali this question he answered that Mosheh Rabeinu was not able to enter Eretz Yisroel b/c Moshe is compared to the sun and Eretz Yisroel is like the moon and only Yehoshua who was like the moon was able to enter Eretz Yisroel.. he finished off saying "it is enough for a wise person with a hint".....

  • 2
    Welcome to MiYodeya Levi. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Also, MY is putting significant emphasis on sources since we don't really know you. If you haven’t done so already, you should take a look at the tour. I hope you'll look around and find other Q&A of interest and stay learning with us.
    – mbloch
    Jul 7, 2018 at 18:06
  • Can you please edit your answer to clarify whether Baba Sali gave this as a reason for the Lubavitcher rebbe's not visiting Israel or only about Moses's?
    – msh210
    Jul 8, 2018 at 6:12
  • the baba sali was asked about the rebbe
    – levi cohen
    Aug 28, 2019 at 17:18

I think The Rebbe ztz'l might have had a 'fear of flying ' I hope I didn't commit a blasphemy by saying this

  • 6
    I doubt you committed a blasphemy, but perhaps you could edit in why you think that may be the case? I wouldn't just assume people fear flying for no reason. What basis do you have for this claim?
    – Double AA
    Feb 22, 2016 at 17:18
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    Certainly in his earlier years as rebbe, transatlantic shipping was still very common and Israel even had a US-Israel searoute. So a fear of flying seems a poor excuse (although now it would be significantly better). Feb 22, 2016 at 18:03
  • 4
    Hello Chaim and welcome to Mi Yodeya. MY is puting significant emphasis on sources since we don't really know you. If you haven’t done so already, you should take a look at the tour. I hope you'll look around and find other Q&A of interest and stay learning with us.
    – mbloch
    Feb 22, 2016 at 18:34
  • for your information the rebbe flew to paris in the late 1940s to bring his mother to new york
    – levi cohen
    Aug 29, 2019 at 5:47

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