In 1887, at the age of 40, he immigrated to Ottoman Palestine. He initially worked in a vineyard in the Yehud moshava, before being recruited by Edmond James de Rothschild to be headmaster of a school in Zikhron Ya'akov. On Tu Bishvat that year he took his students to plant trees in Zikhron Ya'akov. This custom was adopted in 1908 by the Jewish Teachers Union and later by the Jewish National Fund.
After falling out with Baron Rothschild's administrators he moved to Vilna. In 1902, he helped to found the Mizrachi movement and became the editor of its periodical HaMizrachi. In 1903, at a reception for Theodor Herzl, he presented the Zionist leader with a small Torah scroll in a carved holder as a gift of honor from the Vilna community.
Yavetz used the Bible in a new thematic and stylistic manner with the object of reviving ancient ways of life. He has been called a "proto-Orientalist."
- Prophets of the Past: Interpreters of Jewish History, Michael Brenner
- With Tu Bishvat near, a tree grows in Zichron Yaakov Haaretz, 25 January 2013
- Theodore Herzl: A Biography, Alex Bein, Jewish Publication Society, 1956, p.451
- Orientalism and the Hebrew Imagination, Yaron Peleg