The legend on the shirt of the miner captured much of the mood of an extraordinary day. It comes from Tehillim 95:4. “In His hand are the plumbed depths of the earth; the heights of the hills are His.”
The human race took time to watch, spellbound, as a nation and some eager assistants plucked 33 human beings from the bowels of the earth. They spared no effort or expense to snatch helpless souls from the precipice of death. The human race, inured to spectacular feats of design and engineering, nonetheless reacted with glee, sensing that they were witness to the human spirit at its best.
G-d was not left out, but kept in sharp relief by the participants. Some readers will react cynically to superficial displays of religious fervor; I choose not to. I much prefer to witness modesty in the accomplishment of the Chilean people, rather than the bravado of G-dlessness. Again and again, the players in today’s drama took pains to attribute their success to G-d. From the repeated references to Him by Chile’s President, to the miner whose first reaction upon setting foot on the surface of the planet was to fall to his knees in prayer, G-d was given an honorable role. Stephen Hawkings just a few weeks ago announced to the world that there was no room left for the existence of G-d. Perhaps he should debate a rescued miner.
The efforts of the last 69 days stand in sharp contrast to the Tower of Bavel we read about last week. According to Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch , the people behind the project were the first to make people the servants of society and government, rather than the opposite. When societal cohesion becomes an end rather than a means, the rights of individual – and the teaching of G-d – are shunted to the sidelines. In a proper society, all of its efforts serve the individual citizens.
The Bavel Tower people reversed their priorities; this caused human civilization to become fragmented and divided. The Chileans today got it right – causing hundreds of millions of people today to come together to share a magic moment.
We look forward to the day (may it come soon) when all people will come together as one to serve Hashem, not for a moment but forever, under the leadership of Moshiach.
For a change, Israel was not at the forefront in providing spectacular disaster assistance. The Chilean government didn’t ask for – and did not need – much help from abroad, other than the US drilling team. Yet, Jews may have played a much larger role than they might think. Jimmy Sanchez, the youngest of the miners, said “There are actually 34 of us because God has never left us down here.”
Given the source of world consciousness about the One G-d, Jews can take pride in their contribution to the rescue. They placed G-d in that mine in the first place.
(Thanks to Mara Kochba, LA, for the tip.)