Wright Brothers Day

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You may wonder what you can do in just twelve seconds. Could you make history? Could you even make dinner in that amount of time?
It took less than a quarter of a minute and it is still remembered from 1903. December 17, 1903 is the day that Wilbur and Orville Wright recorded a twelve second flight on a manned aircraft in a heavier-than-air powered vehicle with a pilot who could control the vehicle’s direction.
Their interest in aircraft started with a toy helicopter powered by a rubber band which their father gave them. From this toy the brothers, especially Orville, would try to fix different mechanical devices. Eventually the brothers owned a bicycle repair and rental store. This expanded to bicycle manufacturing. From here they got the money they needed to work on their aviation experiments.
It wasn’t luck which gave them the first recorded flight in North Carolina. It was a lot of hard work, experimenting over and over again, trying new things and adjusting old ones. Research and insight and testing and researching and testing some more.
The main difference between their aircraft and those before them was that they devised a three-way control to steer their plane. They controlled the wings’ left and right movement, the nose going up and down, as well as the nose moving side to side. Their plane was twenty-one feet long, had a forty-foot wingspan, a twelve horsepower engine designed by the brothers and weighed six hundred and five pounds.
History was made when they flew for a mere twelve seconds. But, after their historic flight, they did not stop. On that same day they made three more flights which were all successful, although their last flight of the day was flipped over by a gust of wind and damaged the plane totally. The brothers collected the parts and shipped them back to their bike shop. And of course they didn’t stop working on flying.
Think of their determination! They must have put so much time and effort into what produced those exciting world breaking twelve seconds and then they kept tinkering and improving. They did not just change the future of air travel, they also helped the economy and perhaps even more important, they helped people dream. But not just dream; realize that their dreams could also become a reality.
So, since this is being posted on Jewish Values Online, why am I writing about Wright Brothers Day? They were not Jewish and airplanes are not used in Jewish ceremonies. Jews are known as the people of the book, not of travel, so what gives?
Jews like to delve into issues and discuss them. (Talmud study has been around for ages and is an important part of Judaism.) We also like to celebrate and we like to commemorate. Brits, baby naming’s, bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, holidays and of course Shabbat.
And although aviation is not written about in the Torah, people getting from one place to another is. As an extension, travel has become so much more convenient with the use of airplanes. And getting somewhere is important in Judaism.  We should work hard getting from where we are to somewhere else, not physically but spiritually and emotionally. People are not meant to be stagnant. They are meant to grow as people, to mature and to make more and more of their lives. We are not meant to get to a plateau and sing our praises and call it quits. No matter what we accomplish, or no matter how spiritual or helpful to others we become, we can always do more. We can push our limits! We can “fly” further. We can get more control. We can fly higher. No matter how you look at it, we can always improve.
A further connection to Judaism is that the Wright brothers did not just dream, they acted on their dream. As I mentioned above, the brothers worked hard to develop a machine that they could fly. This took much determination and hard work. We too should work hard on our dreams. And even if we fully achieve one dream, we can come up with a new one, or modify the old one to be more advanced. Life is a continuum. Don’t stop dreaming. And don’t stop working towards your dreams. And very very importantly, don’t stop working on yourself.
It is important to work on fulfilling all your potentials. Don’t be satisfied with how you are. Be happy with who you are and satisfied with what you have, but strive to always be on the move improving yourself!
Marcia Goldlist is a regular contributor of blog postings on Jewish Values Online. She was the author of one of the blog postings selected for the Second Quarter 5779 Jewish Values Online Best Blogs.
Please note: All opinions expressed in Blog Postings and comments on the Jewish Values Online site and through Jewish Values Online are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, beliefs, or position of Jewish Values Online, or those associated with it.
 I live in the United States. My brother lives in Israel. He was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and his life prognosis is between days and months. I work as a teacher and my job would not allow me to take off more than a few days. Also, financially, I cannot afford to go to Israel twice. Therefore, I feel a conflict of mitzvot (commandments). Should I go to visit my brother when he is alive and miss his funeral or should I wait until he passes away and go to the funeral. Which mitzvah is more important and what would you advise me to do in this situation? How do I balance these mitzvot?
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