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September 3, 2015 / 19 Elul, 5775
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2,000 Feet, 69 Days, 33 Miners, 1 Lesson


Everything we experience in life serves as a hands-on lesson concerning 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 arrived. Their dream became a reality. They would finally see the light of day, the joy of freedom, the hug of loved ones, and the tears of their children.

But first 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, or engineers. They had no inside knowledge of the capsule’s mechanism.

But they didn’t need to know.

What was important was realizing this was 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 they descend into this material world, exchanging a heaven of pristine light for an earth of confusing darkness.

Indeed, the Talmud tells us, in Pirkei Avos, end of chapter 4, that the soul is forced to descend against its will.

It would rather stay in heaven 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 God chooses to “reside.”

God engineers our “rescue mission” from above and provides the spiritual cable that 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.

God told Noach to enter the capsule – the ark that 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 teivah,” said the Baal Shem Tov, founder of chassidism.

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

“A candle is a mitzvah and Torah is light” (Mishlei 6:23). Every mitzvah reveals so much light in this world – and brings us close to Mashiach.

In the mid-1960s a seven-year-old girl was walking with her mother in Montreal. The child asked her mother for something and was told, “No, you cannot have it.”

The child became upset, ran to a nearby lamppost, lifted her foot, and gave it a resounding kick. At that precise moment, the entire city of Montreal was blanketed in darkness. The girl was petrified. She ran to her mother in a panic, believing her kick to be the cause of the power blackout.

If one small act, as seen through the eyes of an impressionable child, can cause so much darkness, imagine how much light we can bring with one mitzvah, one act of kindness.

Imagine doing that one mitzvah which will usher in the redemption.

We can do it.

If not today, when?

One more mitzvah can bring Mashiach today.

And this will change the world.

For good.

Rabbi Yisroel Engel is director of Chabad Bais Menachem in Denver, Colorado.

About the Author: Rabbi Yisroel Engel is director of Chabad Bais Menachem in Denver, Colorado.


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More Articles from Rabbi Yisroel Engel

Everything we experience in life serves as a hands-on lesson concerning 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 arrived. Their dream became a reality. They would finally see the light of day, the joy of freedom, the hug of loved ones, and the tears of their children.

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