Friday, October 22, 2010

Faith, Unity, and Survival

People often use faith and unity as inspirational slogans, but in the case of the 33 trapped Chilean miners, faith and unity actually sustained them. For 69 difficult days, these men not only had to find a source of hope but also a way to deal with one another. They soon figured out that all they had was God and each other, and they made the best of it. Although all the facts of how they survived have yet to be revealed, the youngest of the trapped miners, Jimmy Sanchez, provided an insight into their mindset. In a letter sent up through one of the narrow tubes that served as lifelines before they were rescued, he wrote: "There are actually 34 of us, because God has never left us down here."

As an interesting side note, the gematria (numerical equivalent in Hebrew) of ‘לב א (one heart) is 33 - the same as the number of men who were trapped in the mine. Perhaps this can serve as a subtle reminder that when a group of people are able to achieve unity, miraculous events can happen. By working together from deep beneath the earth's surface and having faith in God that they would eventually get out, they beat the odds and survived. Of course, there have been other mining accidents that did not have a happy ending, but that only makes this story even more exceptional. It was an "uplifting" event in every sense of the word:

We, as Jews, are not literally stuck in a hole, but we often put ourselves in a metaphorical one when we don't treat fellow Jews decently. Yet, we can dig ourselves out of it by following a similar approach. Firstly, we'll only improve our predicament when we're able to deal with each other's differences on a consistent basis. Secondly, since good interpersonal conduct is almost impossible to fully master, it will be of infinite benefit to believe that God will help us along the way. By having unconditional faith in God (which can be difficult) and working together as a unique blend of individuals (which is arguably even more difficult), greatness is possible. Once these criteria are met, we will become a people of one heart - just like the Chilean miners.

In other words: trust in God, be good to others, and amazing things will happen.

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