Struggling in Israel? Stop complaining, blaming others for your failures - opinion

There is no reason that you can’t be successful financially in Israel. It just takes some discipline and conquering the fear of success.

Investment graph (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Investment graph
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm – Churchill

It seems that over the last few days, almost all the social media posts I read are about how lousy it is to live in Israel. 

Long threads about how you can’t get ahead financially here, how bad the financial and customer services sector are, and that living in Israel is a lost cause. The first lesson I should take from this is to spend way LESS time on social media. The second is that history repeats itself.

Unfortunately, we have precedent of olim and potential olim complaining; it goes back thousands of years. This week we read the Torah portion that deals with the spies. The Lord tells Moses to send the leader of each tribe to check out the land that the children of Israel are about to enter. 

Moses then gives them instructions what to look out for and what information they should come back with. Upon their return the spies report, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large… We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are… The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height… We seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” (Numbers 13:27-33)

 US and Israeli currency (1 dollar bills and 1 shekel coins respectively) are seen in this illustrative photo of money. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
US and Israeli currency (1 dollar bills and 1 shekel coins respectively) are seen in this illustrative photo of money. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

This report seems hard to understand. It wasn’t long before that they witnessed miracles which destroyed the global superpower, Egypt, and led to their freedom. 

We also know from the next story of spies that Joshua sends, that the inhabitants of the Holy land were petrified because of those very same miracles. 

They knew they were to be conquered. Rahab told those spies, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you.” (Joshua 2:9)

As I have written previously, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks z”l cites the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. “He raised the obvious question. The Torah emphasizes that the spies were all leaders, princes, heads of tribes. They knew that God was with them. They knew that God would not have promised them a land they could not conquer. Why then did they come back with a negative report?

He answers, “What was their situation now, in the wilderness? They lived in close and continuous proximity to God. They drank water from a rock. They ate manna from heaven. They were surrounded by the Clouds of Glory. Miracles accompanied them along the way. 

What would be their situation in the land? They would have to fight wars, plough the land, plant seed, gather harvests, create and sustain an army, an economy and a welfare system. They would have to do what every other nation does: live in the real world of empirical space. 

What would become of their relationship with God? Yes, He would still be present in the rain that made crops grow, in the blessings of field and town, and in the Temple in Jerusalem that they would visit three times a year, but not visibly, intimately, miraculously, as He was in the desert. This is what the spies feared: not failure but success.”

Rabbi Sacks continues, “No less real, though, is fear of success. We want to succeed: so we tell ourselves and others. But often unconsciously we fear what success may bring: new responsibilities, expectations on the part of others that we may find hard to fulfill, and so on. So we fail to become what we might have become had someone given us faith in ourselves.”

How can a fear of success hold you back?

IN A piece for Very Well Mind titled “What is the Fear of Success” Kendra Cherry, MSEd and psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, writes, “The fear of success can have a serious negative impact on a person’s life. Some of the ways that it might hold you back from getting what you want in life include:

  • Lower life satisfaction: One study found that this fear significantly reduced satisfaction with life.
  • Difficulty pursuing goals: Research also found that a fear of achievement was correlated with difficulties initiating and maintaining behaviors. Because these first steps toward a goal are so difficult, people who fear success may struggle to get started. Or they may find that they start projects and then lack the motivation to finish them.
  • Low expectations: Researchers have also found that people with a fear of success tend to adopt low academic and career goals compared to their abilities.

When it comes to our own financial situation, we need to stop complaining and blaming others for our failures. Don’t be afraid. Start now, don’t procrastinate, and stick to the basic rules. It’s your path towards a secure financial future. You can succeed.  

Investing in long-term goals is more important than funding current wants and needs. You need to pay yourself first and make saving a priority. If you spend first and save second, you will find out that there is nothing left to save! 

Buy good, quality investments and hold them for a very long time. I know it’s boring, but it’s the tried and true way of building wealth.

There is no reason that you can’t be successful financially. It just takes some discipline and conquering the fear of success.

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