Thursday, July 18, 2019 -
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The Chilean miners in our souls

Dear Tzviling,

I and a billion others are watching with pride and excitement as the 33 miners in Chile are being rescued. As a regular reader of your column, I have noticed your penchant for deriving practical lessons from experiences in life — from the ordinary to the incredible. Can you shed some light on what this heroic effort can teach me, a simple Jew, living here in Englewood?

Nava (via e-mail)

Dear Nava,

Thank you for your thought provoking question. You are correct. Everything we experience in life serves as a hands-on lesson in our purpose on earth.

Consider this: Thirty-three miners plunge into two months of darkness 2,000 feet below the surface, disconnected from their source. After 69 days of eternity, the moment they were praying for has arrived.

Their dream became a reality. They would finally see the light of day, the joy of freedom, the hug of their loved ones and the tears of their children.

However, they needed to prepare for this transition before a 13-foot capsule would whisk them up and away to heaven on earth.

Special socks, dark glasses, high calorie fluids, properly anchored straps and an escape hatch were precautions that were set into motion. “To make it out safely,” they were instructed, “you must follow these guidelines.”

And follow they did.

The miners were not doctors, scientists, nor engineers. They had no inside knowledge of the capsule’s mechanism.

But they didn’t need to know.

What was important is realizing that this is their connection to light, to freedom and to life.

The story of the miners is the story of our souls.

Our souls come from a source of light. Divine light.

And then the soul descends into this material world, exchanging a heaven of pristine light for an earth of confusing darkness.

Indeed, the Talmud tells us the soul is “forced” to descend against its will.

It would rather stay and bathe in light and holiness.

But it descends for a purpose, a higher calling.

It will confront darkness and transform it.

It will make this world a place where G-d chooses to “reside.”

G-d engineers our “rescue mission” from above and provides the spiritual cable which elevates us, connects us to the Divine and empowers us to bring light into a world of darkness, meaning into a world of chaos, and goodness into a world of evil.

G-d told Noah to enter the capsule — the ark which would save him and his family from the raging floods of evil and the vicissitudes of life.

The Hebrew word for ark-capsule is teivah.

Which also means “word.”

The words of prayer. The words of Torah. The food and garments for the soul.

This is the deeper meaning of “Enter the taivah,” says the Baal Shem Tov, founder of the chasidic movement.

Enter the protection of Torah and mitzvos, which elevates us and, indeed, the entire world, to our divine source, the surface of light.

This will change the world.

For good.

SEND your questions to to be answered with wit, wisdom and humor by identical twins Rabbis Yisroel Engel (Denver) and Shloime Engel (Montreal) who share their combined 100 years of experience.

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