Spacecrafts and Visions

April 11, 2019

RabbiWQAidzerheadshot-206x259“We are on the moon. But not in the way we wanted.” With great excitement, I have followed the journey of Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft as it headed for an attempted moon landing. It successfully launched in February, transitioned from an Earth orbit to an orbit around the moon, and came in for its final approach today. On its way down, it snapped a “selfie” of the Israeli flag on its side and the moon in the background. Unfortunately, there was a mishap in the final moments and instead of a controlled landing, the spacecraft crashed. So, as the mission control room said, Israel made it to the moon, just not in the ideal way it had desired.

There’s a lesson in this, of course, and not just about the challenges of complex aeronautic manoeuvers. Israel has always been a country of sky-high aspirations and lofty visions. In the Declaration of Establishment of the State of Israel, it proclaimed, in part, that it: “it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.”

I know that Israel has not yet found the ideal way to enact this vision (any more than the United States has yet achieved its foundational ideals). And yet I proudly share in our people’s ancient ties to the land of Israel and our goals for its ultimate future. I believe deeply in an Israel shaped by Jewish values, where prophetic ideals become the norms of everyday life.

The results from this week’s election in Israel point to more challenges for the country in achieving that goal. I am concerned by the vitriol of the campaign, the surfacing of bigotry and hatred, and the floating of ideas that undermine the rule of law and the survival of democracy. It will take great effort to move society forward.

Despite the setback with the spacecraft, despite an election that may portend trouble ahead, still, I envision an Israel striving to fulfill its lofty dreams. Israel has not made it to the moon in the way it wanted, not yet. But we lift our eyes to the heavens and continue to try.