In Parshat Lech Lecha (Breisheet 13:17), Avraham is told:
Rise, walk (hithalech) the land through its length and breadth, for to you I will give it.
This reminds us of Yishayahu 42:5 where we read:
Thus says God the Lord, He that created the heavens, and stretched them out; He that spread forth the earth, and that which comes out of it; He that gives breath to the people upon it and a spirit to those who walk within it (laholchim bah).
The Talmud, Ketubot 111a explains the words “and a spirit to those who walk within it”: Rabbi Yirmiya bar Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan, “Whoever walks four amot (cubits) in Eretz Yisrael is assured of a portion in the World to Come.”
Maharit (Tshuvot Maharit II, Yoreh Deah 28) suggests that this may even apply to a tourist who has no intention of settling in the Land of Israel. Maharit declares that there is no known mitzvah associated with visiting the Land of Israel, yet one still receives merit. He even suggests that one who was not able to fulfill the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel when they were alive still receives merit for being buried there.
Receiving merit is a step in the right direction and that is why it is so wonderful to see so many tourists visiting Israel on a regular year. However, with numerous travel restrictions in place due to Covid, many people who would have wanted to travel to Israel don’t have that opportunity.
Unfortunately, during these difficult times, there are those who can only get in to Israel to bury a loved one.
May we merit to have tourists safely come back to walk the Land of Israel and may Jews continue to make aliya and fully observe the mitzvah of Yishuv Ertetz Yisrael, the Settlement of the Land of Israel.