No parasha in the whole Torah is more exciting for anyone who has the spirit of entrepreneurship in his heart than Parashat Lech Lecha.
The command “Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you” is an admirable expression of the spirit of entrepreneurship. This is the inner call telling the entrepreneur to walk away from everything that is familiar to them in order to set out on a journey of self fulfillment.
This command is first heard by the greatest entrepreneur in the history of Israel – and perhaps in the history of all humanity – Abraham. He is not driven by materialism to set up an idol shop or a tower with its head in the heavens, but rather by a hand that guides him through a move that will in time pivot the human consciousness and shape the entire Western culture.
We are facing a similar challenge today. We are in the midst of a digitization-technologization process that is shaping and will continue to shape the new global consciousness. It is an era that calls for a modern-day Abraham, the Abraham that is in each and every one of us. That is, entrepreneurs and investors that will heed to their inner calling and rise up to the challenge of building the new world order.
The greatest pivot in human consciousness
In the days of Abraham, the polytheistic faiths dominated all of the ancient regions of Greece, India, Babylon, Mesopotamia and Egypt. It was a rich mosaic of cultures, faiths, and a great variety of worship rituals. It is in this reality that Abraham calls for a unified faith in a single entity, a virtual, immaterial entity that would form the basis for creating a new civilization. That entity is God.
Abraham’s call is nothing short of a revolution. No more of the same, but rather something completely new. In the words of Peter Theil, a zero to one invention. At the heart of this vision is the concept of liberation from the limits of the materialistic world of polytheism, and as such of historical and geographical bounds. A liberation from the dependency on the outer world, replaced by focusing exclusively on the inner space. The transition to the God of Israel is manifested in the development of a single, unified language of faith, as well as in the tradition that is passed on from generation to generation. Together, this allows for a shared, collective space to develop and on top of it an entire history and culture. As of that moment, the term ‘human development’ can be introduced.
Following Abraham, Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses Our Teacher) introduces the ten commandments and in doing so creates a foundation for an operating system of human consciousness. As the years continue, other figures are added to the equation. Among them are the prophets of Israel, the R&D team of monotheism. After them we meet Paul the Apostle, a messenger of Jesus, followed by Muhammad, who helped spread monotheism across the world. The position of Christianity and Islam as a white label of the Abrahamic monotheism is what enabled the formation of separate cultures, independent of each other, which together make up the colorful mosaic in which we live today. Thus fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham:
Please look heavenward and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He said to him, So will be your seed.
It would be impossible to cover the breadth of the monotheistic venture in this short article, although we will revisit the issue in the coming weeks. For now, suffice it to take a moment to wonder at the incredible results of Abraham’s startup venture and understand the network effect and resonating impact it had on our world.
Ladies and gentlemen, history is repeating itself
Those of us who lived through the recent technological developments of the past few decades will have no trouble recognizing signs of Abraham’s conceptual pivot in it. The Internet, for example. Similar to the transition to the God of Israel, the transition to the Internet itself signifies surrendering the material in favor of the spiritual and developing a collective communicative space that has made the world a global village; as though we were living in the old land of Babylon, in the days when all Man spoke one language. The Internet forms the basis for the construction of a new civilization.
From this point onward, time after time we are met with instances of monotheistic thinking. The Microsoft revolution which made the DOS operating system accessible to anyone with a computer is one example. That system has been perfected over and over, until it became Windows, and on top of it Office was created. This fact enabled every person in the world to create and share content with each other. This is unlike, for example, IBM’s business model whose word processors signified a polytheistic worldview.
Then came Google, which democratized information. WordPress soon followed, allowing every business owner to open an eCommerce website and sell their goods across the world. Then GitHub, which enabled every developer to build whatever application or software their minds conjured. Like Abraham, we too break down geographical, language and political borders. We build global platforms and operating systems the whole world can share. Like Abraham, we busy ourselves with shaping human consciousness and building a new civilization.
Who would have believed the Abraham’s relocation would repeat itself 3000 years later in the form of the Zionist enterprise, which saw milions of Jews from around the world go forth to the land that was shown to them, the same geographical area right above the Great Rift Valley that was promised to our ancestors.
Beyond building a home for the Jewish people, we must linger at the question of the significance of the Zionist venture. As Abraham who arrived at the land of Canaan built an enterprise that would transform the world and human consciousness, we must ask ourselves: What is our purpose in returning to our homeland once more?
In returning to the land of Zion, we have created a new Jewish collective that would utterly transform Jewish consciousness across the world. Thanks to that we have been given, Israelis and Jews alike, the chance to play a key role in building the new world order in the age of digitization. When I think about Abraham’s life’s work, his relocation from Ur Kasdim to Canaan and the profound changes that took place among the Jewish people over the past decades, I feel that we are on the verge of reaching the full potential of our Jewish consciousness. It is a potential embedded deep within us for creating, for developing and for undertaking Tikkun Olam ventures. It is the kind of opportunity that is unlikely to repeat itself for another 3000 years. And that is a tremendous comfort in times when the Jews are fighting wars from within and from without.