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I recently planted a tree in a Keren Kayemet forest in Eretz Israel. I heard from someone that this is a mitzvah, but when I asked a rabbi he wasn't sure although he acknowledged it was a very good thing to do for Eretz Israel. Is planting a tree in Eretz Israel a mitzvah?

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R Eliezer Melamed (Rosh Yeshiva in Har Bracha) writes that it is

We have already learned that the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel does not involve only conquering it, but also requires the settling and developing of every part of it. The Ramban stresses this point that "We should not leave the Land under foreign rule or desolate, as it says: you should inherit the land and settle it."

Planting fruit trees in the Israel fulfills one aspect of this mitzvah, which obligates Am Yisrael to cultivate every part of the Land and not to leave it desolate. [...] Those living in Eretz Yisrael, however, have the mitzvah of planting fruit trees regardless of their profession.

[...]

The Chatam Sofer writes (in his commentary on Masechet Sukkah 36) that working the Land of Israel in order to harvest its holy fruit fulfills the mitzvah of settling the Land and the mitzvah commanding Am Yisrael to harvest the grains of the Land.

See here for the full details

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  • So as long as it is a fruit tree it is a mitzvah? What about pines?
    – Gabriel12
    Jan 18, 2016 at 11:40
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    @Gabe12 If the trees are there to reclaim, and replenish the land (such as reclaiming a swamp) then that still applies. It seems that fruit trees are given as an example. Jan 18, 2016 at 11:52
  • I just realized you said that this is for people living in Eretz Israel. What if I don't live here, does it still count?
    – Gabriel12
    Jan 18, 2016 at 14:14
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    @Gabe12 yes if you read his full article he says it does so, it is planting trees outside Israel to which we are not obligated
    – mbloch
    Jan 18, 2016 at 14:16
  • See the new answer
    – Double AA
    May 30, 2021 at 15:11
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The Chasam Sofer to Sukkah 36 quoted as the source for this clearly states that this is the case only when most of Am Yisroel is living in Eretz Yisroel. I am not saying that it is not a Mitzvah, but to use the Chasam Sofer as the source for this nowadays, is not accurate.

רבי ישמעאל נמי לא אמר מקרא ואספת דגנך אלא בא"י ורוב ישראל שרויין שהעבודה בקרקע גופה מצוה משום יישוב א"י ולהוציא פירותי' הקדושי' ועל זה ציותה התורה ואספת דגנך

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    This is a fair point. That said, it's plausible that one can learn from this source the details of the maaseh mitzva even according to other opinions who think the time of the mitzva of yishuv eretz yisrael applies without most Jews there
    – Double AA
    May 30, 2021 at 14:30
  • Yes, that would definitely be a possibility according to the other opinions. Who are the other opinions though? I have not seen any early Poskim state this. Can you share some sources? May 31, 2021 at 15:10
  • Seemingly Yehoshua is of the other opinion, given that he conquered the land before most Jews lived there. He's a pretty early authority. It's hard to imagine why anyone would argue in fact. We know rules about Amira LeAkum and Mezuzah are different in Israel nowadays because of yishuv haaretz.
    – Double AA
    May 31, 2021 at 15:25

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