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The Rambam in Hilchot Melachim 5:9 describes the prohibition of leaving Eretz Yisrael, and the reasons why one would be allowed to leave. This topic has been dealt with already on this site.

One heter that the Rambam does not list is leaving Eretz Yisrael to go on vacation or to visit family abroad. Yet this is clearly popular practice; many people travel back and forth frequently without a whim.

So how far does this Halacha go? Does Rambam mean that one can never step foot outside Eretz Yisrael for even a moment unless one of the listed heterim are in effect? Or does the entire Halacha only refer to leaving Eretz Yisrael for a longer period of time?

Note that the Rambam there also states that one may not dwell outside of Eretz Yisrael unless there is a significant famine going on in the Land. So his first Halacha wasn't referring to people leaving Eretz Yisrael permanently (for dwelling purposes): it was speaking of heterim for a temporary exit from the Land, and still Rambam only said it was permissible under those specific circumstances.

Please provide sources for your answer.

  • See the beginning of judaism.stackexchange.com/a/12829/5151 – Scimonster Aug 19 '16 at 14:00
  • Interesting historical perspective, but not sure how/if that answers the question. Is there an issur in stepping out of Eretz Yisrael? – Chaim Aug 19 '16 at 14:43
  • I wasn't intending for it to be an answer. Just pointing out that the situation today is very different from what it was in the Rambam's time. – Scimonster Aug 19 '16 at 14:44
  • My nephew lives in Giv'at Shmu'el and is a Boyaner Hassid. The rebbe told him that he may never leave Israel even when there is a family simcha and his parents request him to come. I'm not sure if the rebbe would make an exception when Chas Veshalom one of his parents or siblings dies. – DanF Aug 19 '16 at 14:49
  • Fascinating. I wonder if his approach is documented anywhere, and whether this Rambam is his basis. – Chaim Aug 19 '16 at 14:57
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R Shlomo Aviner (at the very bottom of here) uses this Rambam to forbid vacation outside of Israel for those who live there.

However R Shmuel Halevi Wosner (Shut Shevet Halevi 5:173, cited bottom of here) writes

The primary prohibition of leaving the Land applies only when one intends to establish his residence outside of Eretz Yisrael, but leaving temporarily is more lenient. Yet, he qualifies this leniency and writes that there must be some sort of concrete need for the person to leave.

Accordingly, it would be prohibited to leave Eretz Yisroel for a vacation if the trip does not serve a constructive purpose. It would be permitted if it serves a constructive purpose such as seeing the wonders and beautiful parts of Hashem’s creation, resting (when this cannot be easily achieved in Israel) and so on.


Writing more recently in OU Torah Tidbits (here, p. 68) R Shimshon HaKohen Nadel further comments on this Rambam

the Rambam's source is unclear. Upon further inspection, it would appear that the Talmud limits this prohibition to Kohanim. The Talmud (Shabbat 14b), teaches that Yosi ben Yo'ezer and Yosi ben Yochanan decreed impurity, on the 'Lands of the Nations', i.e. all the land outside of the Land of Israel. In his commentary to Ohalot (2:3), Rambam explains that the reason for this decree was that the gentiles were not careful to mark their graves. All of Chutz La'aretz therefore has a status of Tum'a d'Rabanan, rabbinic impurity, just like a Beit HaPras, a field of graves that was plowed under, which is suspected to contain human remains. A Kohen is rabbinically prohibited from leaving the Land of Israel and entering the Diaspora, as it is impure.

But the Talmud (Avoda Zara 13a) states that a Kohen can go to Chutz LaAretz for a court case, and pass through a Beit HaPras in order to fulfill a mitzva like marrying a woman or studying Torah. These conditions override the rabbinic prohibition.

[...]

But the Maharit (Kiddushin 31b) rules that the prohibition in leaving the Land of Israel is only if the intent is to settle permanently in the Diaspora. Based on this, many authorities are lenient regarding visits abroad (See Shevet Halevi 5:173 [quoted above]; Yechaveh Da'at 5:57; Tzitz Eliezer 11:94, 14:72; Magen Avraham 531:7; Tashbetz 3:288;).

  • Taking a vacation which does not serve a constructive purpose, whether it includes leaving EY or not is forbidden as for itself. Every act which man does must be done for a constructive purpose. After all this is what we are here for. – RibbisRabbiAndMore Jun 5 '18 at 8:03
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    any vacation to rest and be stronger to learnwould be for the sake of learning, and is considered part and parcel of the Mitzvah of learning Torah. The mitzvah of learning Torah is one of the purposes which permits leaving EY. – RibbisRabbiAndMore Jun 5 '18 at 8:08
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    As I said to rest and be stronger to learn better afterward would be for the sake of learning, and is considered part and parcel of the Mitzvah of learning Torah. – RibbisRabbiAndMore Jun 5 '18 at 8:20
  • Dear Ribbisrabbi, please see the even haazel hilchos milachim 3,5-6 where he is not as strongly apposed to bitul Torah as you would imagine.......אבל הדיוט מותר לו להתענג אף שזה יגרום לבטול תורה בהכרח ע״י השיכרות או בעילות נשים ולהדיוט אינו אסור אלא לבטל תורה בלי כל סבה שאז אם הוא מסיר לבו מהתורה עובר על ופן יסורו מלבבך כל ימי חייך ועוד הרבה פסוקים מחיובי ת"ת, ועי' בספר מעלות התורה בתחילתו שמנה יותר משלשים מ"ע ומל"ת על ביטול תורה. – shloma edelstein Sep 3 '18 at 3:15
  • @shlomaedelstein if you want to "ping" someone (i.e., have the system notify them), you need to put an @ sign before their name – mbloch Sep 3 '18 at 3:17
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אבל לשכון בחוצה לארץ אסור The very Rambam you quote is clear the issue is not short visits, he states living outside of Israel is the forbidden.

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