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ArticlesWe're All Rescue Miners
by Rabbi Avi Shafran
The death this past week of 37 miners in central
Those events, along with the loss of 29 miners in the collapse of a West Virginia mine in April, and that of nine other American miners in eight accidents since, have served, no doubt, to cause countless people to imagine what it must be like to be confined thousands of feet below the earth’s surface, physically separated from loved ones – indeed, from the entire world.
And it was surely a rare individual who, following the recent drama in
And then consider that each of us undergoes a similar experience each and every day.
We wake up in the morning.
It’s not only the fact that in sleep we are unconscious, not in control, or that people can and do die in their sleep; or even that sleep, like death, is insistent, and will only allow itself to be postponed so long. The rabbis of the Talmud said something more; they considered sleep itself to be a virtual microcosm of death – “one sixtieth” of it, in their turn of phrase and thought.
The regularity with which we are granted new life each day dulls us, regrettably, to the indescribable import of the fact. That is only human nature, what Emerson alluded to when he wrote: “If the stars would appear but one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the City of G-d.”
But recognized or not, the import is there all the same, and demands every sensitive soul’s attention. And that is why, while all too many of us awaken each day with grumbling about the speed with which morning arrived, Jewish tradition mandates that a Jew’s first words upon awakening in the morning are to be those of the short “Modeh Ani” prayer of gratitude. It is one of the first things observant Jewish parents teach their young children.
“I gratefully acknowledge You,” the prayer goes, “living and eternal King, for having returned my soul to me with compassion. Abundant is Your faithfulness.”
Few of us, thankfully, will ever experience anything like what the trapped miners in
© 2010 AM ECHAD RESOURCES
[Rabbi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath
All Am Echad Resources essays are offered without charge for personal use, sharing and publication, provided the above copyright notice is appended. Parts of the above essay were distributed, under a different title and in a different context, in 2006.
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