Nick Sugimoto, Senior Program Director of Honda’s Silicon Valley Labs, stood on stage today at OurCrowd’s 2016 Global Investor Summit and announced Honda’s groundbreaking strategic alliance with OurCrowd. His company’s slogan glowed behind him. It said: ‘The Power of Dreams’.
The $64 billion automotive giant is here seeking to invest in Israel’s game changing startup ecosystem and to tap into the Israeli software and hardware that will power the world’s next generation of smart cars. Nick said that Honda chose to start its engagement with OurCrowd’s portfolio companies and extensive startup network because Honda believes the collaboration will “help us develop truly transformational new products”.
Later this afternoon, Nick was gracious enough to accept my invitation to have a mini ‘havruta’ about how Honda’s tagline – ‘The Power of Dreams’ – is connected to the writings of the ancient prophets of Israel (a ’havruta’ is a Jewish custom of bonding through studying a sacred text together). Our sacred text was a passage entitled ‘The Great Dreams’ from the writings of Rav Abraham Issac Kook, Israel’s first chief rabbi and one of the most innovative and visionary Jewish minds of the past century. Rav Kook writes:
The great dreams are the foundation of the world. They are manifested on different levels. The prophets dream, as God is quoted in saying: “I speak with him [a prophet] in a dream.” The poets dream while awake, the mighty thinkers dream of perfecting the world. All of us dream of the time “when God will return the captivity of Zion”.
I explained to Nick that the ‘mighty thinkers’ Rav Kook writes about includes entrepreneurs seeking to change the world for the better. That on its most universal level, the ‘return of the captivity of Zion’ can be interpreted to mean the utopian vision of a perfected world that so many idealists dream about. Nick’s response was that great dreams were one of Hondas core values and that in management meetings, one of the key questions that is asked of Honda’s personnel is ‘what is your dream?’.
After reflecting on today’s OurCrowd summit, as a Jew, I believe that the current wave of Israeli hi-tech sweeping the globe has its origins in the ancient collective consciousness of the Jewish people. The phrase ‘when God will return the captivity of Zion’, which Rav Kook quotes, is part of a famous verse from the book the Book of Psalms. The full verse (Psalm 126:1) reads, “When God will return the captivity of Zion we will be like dreamers.” Our archetypal dream of returning to the Land of Israel has been passed down for millennia from one generation to the next, and was planted in the psyches of the Jewish pioneers of this past and present century.
This dream motivated them against all odds to survive, build communities and cities, and over recent decades to erect the infrastructure which has created modern day Israel and the country’s current technological boom. Looking at this morning’s announcement from this perspective, Honda’s move to invest in Israel’s cutting edge startup ecosystem is a physical manifestation of a spiritual process that started thousands of years ago.
I also shared two Hebrew words with Nick that he was really happy to learn: ‘Chutzpah’ and ‘Tikkun Olam’. ‘Chutzpah’ is a difficult word to translate but could be defined as a audacious and courageous willingness to challenge the status quo. ‘Tikkun Olam’ is one of the biblical injunctions of the Jewish people and means ‘to fix the world’.
I too believe in the power of dreams. My great dream, is that Israel’s next revolution will be spiritual. That our amazing technological progress will become organically informed by the unique mystical light of our Jewish heritage. This means we won’t just be exporting hi-tech to the world, but higher – more conscious – thinking as well. May Hashem bless us with the strength to tap into the true spiritual power of Israel’s dreams and that we fully realize what it means to be a ‘light unto the nations’.