By Rabbi Mordechai Levin
Published by the Omaha World Herald – November 27, 2010
Many of us watched recently as 33 miners in Chile were rescued and brought to the earth’s surface from a collapsed mine half a mile below. Their experience echoes the words of the Hebrew Bible (Psalms 118:5) “From the narrow places I called out to God, He answered me and set me in a broad place.”
Several things saved the miners. They were saved by their solidarity and commitment to one another, by the discipline they had for collective decision-making, exercising, and self-regulating their hunger, faith and prayer. They were also saved by the refusal of their fellow human beings to give up, the use of the most innovative and creative scientific expertise, and the commitment of resources from their country.
There are at least two important messages from this story. The first one is that even in a desperate situation, in the darkest places or moments, there might be some hope. As it is written in the Talmud: “Even if a sharp sword is actually resting on a man’s neck, he should not hold himself back from praying for God’s mercy.”
The second message is based on the fact that the miners were granted another life, a new beginning. Most of the time, we do not appreciate the fact that we should feel happy just because we are alive. Let us imagine ourselves in a situation — like the miners — in which we were about to die. Then let us picture ourselves being given another chance. How joyful would we feel? Immensely happy.
We do not need to be trapped inside a mine to be aware that every day grants us a new opportunity. Today — as every day — we are granted a second chance. With this awareness, what should we do different today?