Is there an underlying feeling that urges people to go to the Holy Land?
Rav Michel Dovid Rozovsky zt’l was chief Rabbi of Grodno, Belarus. His passing left a great void and there was a difference of opinion between his family and community regarding who should take over that position. They all agreed that it should be given to his son. The question was, which son. The community chose Rav Shmuel zt’l (1913-1979). The family chose the oldest son, Rav Yehoshua Heschel zt’l.
It was decided that the question should be brought to Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski zt’l (1863-1940), pre-eminent Av Beis Din, head of the Rabbinical court in Vilna, to render a Halachic ruling regarding the matter. Prior to the case being judged, Rav Shmuel travelled to Vilna to meet with Rav Chaim Ozer. He shared that he was not interested in the position and that his brother, Rav Yehoshua Heschel was worthy to take over as Rav.
Rav Shmuel did not stop there. While the debate ensued, he suddenly acted differently in ways that would not have been befitting for a person of his stature. He went to the marketplace, dealing with products and pricing in ways that he had not done before, hoping to lower his image and impression that people had of him and thereby raise the prospects for his brother.
A ruling was reached. Rav Yehoshua Heschel was to be crowned the new Rav. Although the community accepted the ruling, it was begrudgingly. Rav Shmuel could not bear to see that his brother was not accorded due respect. He decided to leave Grodno, hoping that he would be forgotten by the townsfolk and that his brother would be treated with dignity.
The question was where to go. There is a technique called Goral HaGra, the lottery of the Vilna Gaon (1720-1797). With certain parameters and process, a Chumash would be opened and the sentence found would serve as source of direction. Rav Shmuel opened the Chumash to the words of Lech Lecha, “Hashem said to Avram, ‘Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make you a great nation; I will bless you, and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing.”
The decision was made. Rav Shmuel was Eretz Yisrael bound. As a post-script, the sacrifice that he made because of his selfless, pristine character did not cause him to lose out at all. In Eretz Yisrael he rose to be among the great of the generation and Rosh Yeshiva in Ponevezh. There was more. That move saved him from suffering the fate of those left behind, who were smitten by the Nazis ym’s.
When Rav Shmuel opened the Chumash to Lech Lecha, there was more to it than seeing that passage. It empowered him, tapping into a feeling which is part of our DNA. The actions of our ancestors become engrained within us. We find through the generations, even those who are not greatly knowledgeable are willing to give their lives to sanctify the Name of Hashem. That is because the actions of Avram at Ur Casdim, who was willing to give his life rather than dishonor Hashem, made an indelible mark on his soul and offspring for all time. So too regarding Lech Lecha. Making the move to the Holy Land had great challenges. The actions and response of Avram to the ‘calling’ of Lech Lecha, remains as part of the fiber of his progeny forever.
How far would we go for the sake of a brother? Do we view our giving to others as a loss or a gain? Do we weigh our actions carefully considering that the effects are passed through the generations?
Rabbi Hershel D. Becker
 Lech Lecha 12:1-2
 Rav Yisrael Leyush, based on Ruach Chaim, in Likras Shabbos Malchesa, pp.176-177