Five Life Lessons from Reactions to Beresheet

I was uplifted by the positive reactions to Beresheet’s, Israel’s privately funded spacecraft, crash landing on the moon. I reflected that the reactions to this “failure” contained wonderful insights into how to respond to personal life failures.

  1. Watching from the control room near Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said: “If at first, you don’t succeed, you try again.”

That is the first and most important reaction. Just because I failed once, doesn’t mean I will fail again. Just because I failed at this, doesn’t mean I will fail at that. If at first, I don’t succeed, I should get up and try again. Most important, try again with the attitude that I will succeed.

  1. Netanyahu added another comment: “We reached the moon, but we want to land more comfortably, and that is for the next time.”

Reframing our failures is also important. We should never live in denial because if we do, we can’t correct our failures. But we should identify the particular area in which we failed and isolate it from our successes. Beresheet wasn’t a failure. It merely failed to land, but it succeeded in every other phrase of its operation. All in all, it was a success.

Once we separate our failures from our successes, we (a) know what to correct and (b) know that we can succeed.

  1. Opher Doron, general director of the Israel Aerospace Industries space division, had this to say: “The project cost about $100m (£76m) and paved the way for future low-cost lunar exploration.”

 Once we have isolated our failure, we need to put it in context. It isn’t entirely a failure. There are good things to be salvaged from every failure. The only way we learn is from our mistakes. Mistakes are invaluable to our growth trajectory. They are not merely a step down. They are preludes to our running leaps.

This can-do attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and I would not be surprised if Israel returns to land on the moon.

  1. Kimberly Cartier, an astronomer and science news reporter, tweeted that she was “sad about how #Beresheet ended” but “proud of the entire @TeamSpaceIL”.

This too is critical. Sometimes, we personalize our failures. We say, I failed because I am a failure, and it is not surprising that a failure fails. This self-defeating attitude can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

A healthy person says, I am not a failure, I am a success. My project failed because of certain circumstances that I will finetune and correct next time. If I didn’t know enough, I will learn more. If I didn’t take some factors into consideration, I will next time. I am not a failure. I am a success. My project failed.

  1. Finally, Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote: “Even more than the strength to win, we need the courage to try, the willingness to fail, the readiness to learn and the faith to persist.

These words speak for themselves. It is not only about winning and losing. It is about having the courage to get up and try again. The only way to succeed is to be willing to fail. Failure is the flip side of success, and if we are not willing to risk failure, we will never be able to succeed.

We are ready to learn, we have the faith to persist, and indeed we shall come back and succeed.

If that doesn’t sum up the ethos of Passover and its theme of personal liberty, I don’t know what does.

About the Author
Rabbi Lazer Gurkow, a renowned lecturer, serves as Rabbi to Congregation Beth Tefilah in London Ontario. He is a member of the curriculum development team at Rohr Jewish Learning Institute and is the author of two books and nearly a thousand online essays. You can find his work at
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