Innovation: Necessity is the Mother of Invention
“See, I have imparted to you laws and rules, as Hashem my God has commanded me, for you to abide by in the land that you are about to enter and occupy. Observe them faithfully, for that will be proof of your wisdom and discernment to other peoples, who on hearing of all these laws will say, “Surely, that great nation is a wise and discerning people.” Deuteronomy 4:5-6.
How did Israel become a modern innovation hub? Israeli educational system also encourages students to think critically. As a result, Israel’s educational institutions have cultivated a nation of professors, engineers, scientists, researchers, and doctors. Israel has a notably high concentration of Nobel Prize laureates who have earned a combined 12 Nobel prizes since 1966. Israel’s diversity is also seen as a contributor to the innovation ecosystem. As Jews returned from the four corners of the earth, they brought with them their diverse skill sets and educational backgrounds. Other reasons attributed for Israel’s success in leading innovation technology, include the mandatory army service, public-private partnerships, cultural habits and informal hierarchy.
The early pioneers of the modern State of Israel were able to make the desert bloom and turn swamp-filled land into agricultural gold. The Jews that lived in Israel during the Ottoman Empire and the British Mandate drained swamps, dug wells, strategically fertilized soil, developed and adopted irrigation techniques, studied with experts, and built up agricultural schools. As a result of having to build these communities with limited resources, Israelis were required to innovate and find solutions to maximize limited water supply, raise livestock, plant food in desert conditions, and deal with the challenges of living in a land with hostile neighbors.
After the miracle of the 1948 War of Independence, the Jewish people finally reestablished a country of their own. But life was far from utopian. There were constant threats of war, international boycotts supported by Arab countries, and Jewish immigrants fleeing persecution that poured in, despite a proper infrastructure to accommodate them. This was in addition to the fact that Israel had no organized government, military, economy, currency reserves, food and water security, or adequate housing. Israel’s first years were marked by severe austerity and grave uncertainty. The people of Israel would have to create an entire country from scratch. Which is exactly what they did.
“And the desolate land, after lying waste in the sight of every passerby, shall again be tilled. And men shall say, “That land, once desolate, has become like the garden of Eden and the cities, once ruined, desolate, and ravaged, are now populated and fortified. And the nations that are left around you shall know that I Hashem have rebuilt the ravaged places and replanted the desolate land. I Hashem have spoken and will act” (Ezekiel 36:34-36).
Within a decade of its independence, the State of Israel became self-sufficient in all foods aside for meat and grains. The redemption and revitalization of swampland into forests, dry rocks into vineyards, and a barely self-sustaining presence to become a modern global exporter of fruits and vegetables is clearly a “fruition” of Divine Promise delivered by the prophets that the people would return to rebuild the land.