It was late evening, and Mordechai was about to start getting ready to go to bed. Suddenly, the phone rang. “Mazal tov! Mazal tov! Your brother Srulik is a chatan!”
“Mazal tov!” Mordechai responded, joyously. His heart welled with joy, and, with the phone still in his hand, he danced around the living room. His beloved brother, Srulik, would be getting married soon!
The next day, Mordechai, together with the rest of his family, went to meet Srulik’s new kallah and her family. The kallah’s family had prepared a festive meal in honor of the new couple. The two families sat together, and, naturally, the conversation centered on the upcoming wedding.
“Would it be OK if we made the wedding in England?” the kallah’s father began. “We just moved here, so we have very few friends or family in the area.”
“We’ll talk it over, and try to figure out what works best for everyone,” answered Mordechai’s father.
Mordechai felt his stomach tighten. England! He had never been outside of Israel before. He hoped that the chatan and kallah would decide to hold the wedding in Israel.
A few weeks later, Mordechai checked the mailbox. He noticed the decorative envelope, sandwiched between the electric bill, and a supermarket circular. He eagerly ripped it open, and saw Srulik’s wedding invitation. Mordechai eagerly scanned the invitation for the address. “You are cordially invited… we look forward to seeing you… England.” Mordechai’s heart sank. How could he go to the wedding? He had never left Israel in his life! He couldn’t imagine ever being away from his beloved Land. And, yet, this was Srulik’s wedding! Srulik would be devastated, if Mordechai didn’t come. How could he not go? What should Mordechai do?
Answer of Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl, shlita:
Mishna Berura states (siman 531, se’if katan 14) that it is permitted to leave the land of Israel in order to perform a mitzva. A mitzva, in this case, even includes visiting a friend who lives outside of Israel. I maintain, though, that this particular allowance does not apply today, because it is possible to be in touch with a friend by phone or email, without resorting to leaving Israel. However, leaving Israel to attend a brother’s wedding is permitted. Ultimately, though, it is up to Mordechai to decide what he would like to do. On the one hand, there is great benefit to bringing joy to his brother. On the other hand, there is also great benefit in staying in Israel.
(As a side note, it is told about Rabbi Nebenzahl, shlita, that when he is compelled to leave Israel, in order to bring inspiration to Jews living in other places, he requests to sit in the seat closest to the rear of the plane, and, upon return, he requests to sit as close to the front as possible. This is allows him to gain a few minutes extra in the Holy Land.
I asked Rabbi Nebenzahl if this is true. Rabbi Nebenzahl confirmed this report, and added that he tries to uphold this practice, to the extent that the matter is in his hands.)