Humans can cover a mile in that time – horizontally.
In four minutes yesterday it covered 24.2 miles – vertically.
I am of course talking about the inaugural test flight of Space X which exploded soon after take-off.
So obviously a failure? Actually no.
As Eric Berger, Senior Space Editor at A.R.S Technica explained.
After Thursday’s test, the Internet was on fire. For many people, Elon Musk has done and said some hate-able things of late, and they were ready to hate on him and his rocket company. After all, how stupid could engineers be for celebrating a spectacular failure like this? This is a totally understandable take. For a general audience who sees NASA at work, an agency that can’t afford to fail, this looks like failure. NASA failures often involve the loss of human life or billion-dollar satellites. So yeah, government explosions are bad. But this was not that. For those who know a bit more about the launch industry and the iterative design methodology, getting the Super Heavy rocket and Starship upper stage off the launch pad was a huge success. Why? Because one could sit in meetings for ages and discuss everything that could go wrong with a rocket like this, with an unprecedented number of first stage engines and its colossal size. The alternative is simply to get the rocket into a “good enough” configuration and go fly. Flying is the ultimate test, providing the best data. There is no more worrying about theoretical failures. The company’s engineers actually get to identify what is wrong and then go and fix it. But you have to accept some failure…so, yes, SpaceX’s rocket exploded on Thursday. The company will learn. And it will fly again, perhaps sometime later this fall or winter. Soon, it probably will be flying frequently.
It is not difficult to understand. Failure is part and parcel of success.
Yet, next Tuesday night, we will celebrate 75 years since the launch of the third commonwealth of the Jewish People.
That launch, on Erev Shabbat 15th May 1948 was met by the might of five Arab armies determined to make sure that the new state would be stillborn. That our 2000-year-old dreams would crash back down to earth.
Failure was not an option; failure has never been an option for Israel. Every one of Israel’s wars had the same calculation. Win = Survival, Loss = Annihilation.
Miraculously then and ever since, Israel has survived and thrived, ‘to be a free nation in our own land’ became a reality.
In those 75 years since launch, the Jewish State has soared so high. It has ingathered the exiles ‘m arba kanfot ha aretz’, from the four corners of the Earth. It has established the only democracy in the Middle East. It has been a light to the nations, sending rescue missions all over the world.
Yet, this was not any launch, of a new country. This was the relaunch of an ancient nation who had become a nation in Egypt 3000 years ago, who were taken out by Hashem in a blaze of miracles, who received the Torah at Sinai and then, after a slight delay, set about building a national life in Israel. Eventually they were defeated by the Babylonians in 586BCE. They returned under the Persians, fought off the Greeks and then in 66CE rebelled against the Roman Empire hoping to repeat the victory of the Maccabees and regain Independence in their own land. However, they were defeated, and for a second time in their history the Bet Hamikdash was destroyed on the 9th Av in the year 70 CE.
They rebelled again in the days of Bar Kochba and were defeated again, millions were slain and blood flowed freely, it was the beginning of the longest exile ever endured by a people.
As our nation, bloodied, defeated and desolate left the land of Israel they cried tears of pain and sadness. Jerusalem was no more but in the heart of the Jew it still glowed brightly – If I forget you o Jerusalem may my right hand lose its cunning – Im Eshkachech – we never forgot – and we would need all the hope and all the faith to survive the upcoming centuries.
Throughout the centuries, the Jewish people did not forget their homeland. In every prayer, every blessing, at every event, whether joyful or sad – we remembered the Land of Israel and Jerusalem and prayed for our return as promised in the prophets.
Can these bones live son of man? These bones are the whole house of Israel. They say our bones are dried up and our hope is gone… thus says the Lord Hashem I’m going to open your graves and lift you out of your graves my people and bring you to the land of Israel. (Yechezkel 37:3-12)
From dry bones and ashes of the Shoah, from total despair and desperation Israel was resurrected from the dead and new life was breathed into the Jewish people. The launch was fuelled by the hopes and dreams of generations of Jews who never gave up the belief that one day we would return.
Seventy-Five years ago, there were just 600,000 Jews in Israel. Today there are nearly 7 million coming from over 100 countries.
In those seventy five years Israel went from having one asphalt road to building Ben Gurion International Airport, some of the best hospitals in the world and build more roads and infrastructure per capita and faster than any other place on the planet.
Israel has transformed a barren desolate non-productive land into one of the most powerful economies in the world.
There are more Torah institutions and more Jewish learning in the Land of Israel than any other time in Jewish history.
From a group of underground and under armed freedom fighters the IDF has emerged as one of the most respected militaries in the world.
We stand in awe what Israel has achieved, our nation has been reborn and that nation is changing the world. We bless the protectors of our land – tzva hagana l yisrael and we bless the state of Israel – reshit smichat geulateno – the beginning of our redemption.
Yes, at the minute there is tension, there are huge discussions about the future of the State, big questions that deal with Judicial reform, conversion and Religion and State. There is yelling, screaming, shouting. I have been a delegate this week at the World Zionist Organisation congress in Jerusalem. Jews from all around the world, and we do not agree on everything, and yes tensions have been high. However, thank God we have a Jewish State to be so emotional about!
We all agree that we love the State of Israel and want the best for Her, we are just not agreed on what that should be! Baruch Hashem we all care about this country that seventy-five years ago this Tuesday night came into being.
At the congress, we said a thank you to Avraham Duvdevani, who had been the Chair of the WZO for over 10 years. He spoke to the packed delegate hall, and ask us how? How did all these miracles happen? How did Medinat Yisrael become such a glorious success? His answer was simple and succinct.
‘Hashem is a Zionist.’
So next Wednesday, I along with thousands of others, will joyously recite Hallel, to thank Hashem for bringing us back, to thank Hashem for allowing us to live in this generation when we have returned.
We will sing loudly and proudly.
Zeh Hayom Asa Hashem, Nagila v Nismacha Vo. This is the day that Hashem made, let us rejoice and celebrate.