The exodus from Egypt,  Tu Bishvat, and your money


“Israel was not created in order to disappear – Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom,” John F. Kennedy.

After having a month’s break to come down off the sufganiyot sugar high, we just stuffed ourselves again, this time on all kinds of regular and dried fruit in celebration of the Tu Bishvat holiday.

There is no better feeling than eating too many dried apricots or dates, and then washing them down with too many sugary dried pineapple and kiwi slices. Talk about a sugar high! But let’s not complain. We have it great in Israel.

Remember the old country? Boxer (carob)? I will take some fresh, locally grown fruit anytime if the option is carob!If it’s time for Tu Bishvat, that means that we must be reading in the Torah portion of the week about the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. This week is the climax: the splitting of the sea. Is there a relationship between the two?

The relationship between the Jewish Exodus and Tu Bishvat

I think there is a very strong relationship. Rabbi Yissocher Frand writes, “The book Ziv Haminhagim gives a beautiful explanation of this linkage. Tu Bishvat is the Rosh Hashanah (New Year) of trees. Look outside today and gaze at the trees. They appear deader than door nails! Is this the time to celebrate The New Year of Trees? There is not a leaf to be seen. It would seem more appropriate to celebrate Tu Bishvat in the springtime, when the trees are in full bloom, – April or May. 

‘THAT PINK crepe myrtle is 7-8 years old’ (credit: NATAN ROTHSTEIN)

The answer is that the trees look dead. They look like they will never see another green leaf in their existence. But right now the sap is beginning to run within them. If one travels up to Vermont –  the maple syrup capital of the world – he will find Vermonters dressed up in earmuffs boring holes to extract the sap from the maple trees.

This is the time of the year when the sap is flowing within the trees. The leaves and the beauty of the fruits that the trees will produce in the spring and summer are all being prepared right now, in the dead of winter. The trees represent the idea that, even when something looks terribly bleak and looks like it has no future, one should not give up on it.”

After the sea split and the children of Israel were safe, it’s written “They came to Marah and they could not drink the water, for it was bitter.” [Exodus 15:23] God instructed Moses to throw a tree in the water. The question that begs to be asked is why a tree? Rabbi Frand answers, “The symbolism is as we said before. The people felt hopeless. They were a million people in the desert with no food or water. The natural reaction was: “What is going to be? How are we going to live? What will be our future?”

At that point, Hashem showed them a tree. The tree is the symbol that when all looks futile and bleak, desolate, and destroyed, we see that the situation can turn around. Rebirth happens! There can be renaissance and renewal.


Spend just a few minutes watching the news these days and it’s understandable if depression sets in. Not only do we have to deal with the tragic loss of so many soldiers, but we have to listen to all the talking heads, sitting comfortably in their studios, preach how we can’t win the war against Hamas, totally demoralizing and playing into to the hands of the enemy.

Now more than ever this joint message of Tu Bishvat and the Exodus should give us the strength to continue on.

While the situation on all fronts looks hopeless and bleak, we need to understand that ultimately, we will prevail. Victory could come at any second, and we need to remember not to give up. Better days will follow.

Investors need to take this lesson to heart. Far too often they focus on the immediate present without any broader perspective. They lose sight of their long-term goals, because of short term fear.

The data is overwhelming how individual investors tend to panic when markets drop significantly and sell, only to wait too long to buy back their investments, losing huge amounts of money.

Don’t get caught up in the dire predictions propagated by the media.

Keep your eye on the long-term and things should work out just fine.

May all the families of the fallen be comforted. May the hostages be released. May the wounded have a speedy recovery. May our dear soldiers be safe and protected.

The information contained in this article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. or its affiliates.

Aaron Katsman is author of the book Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing (McGraw-Hill), and is a licensed financial professional both in the United States and Israel, and helps people who open investment accounts in the United States. Securities are offered through Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. ( Member FINRA, SIPC, MSRB, FSI. For more information, call (02) 624-0995 visit or email [email protected].