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The Cave of Life

Friday, 13 July, 2018 - 11:05 am

The world watched in amazement as 12 boys and their coach were rescued in dramatic fashion from deep inside a flooded cave in Northern Thailand. It was an intriguing story with a great ending.

The valor of the Navy SEALS and divers, the stamina of the boys, the selflessness of the countless volunteers and the efforts of thousands of rescue workers all contributed to this incredible rescue.

But, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of those boys. After a week or so in the cave, with no light, no food, and no strength – how do you continue to hope?

The only hope they had was that others were thinking of them, frantically searching for them. Imagine the relief they felt the moment they were found. They still didn’t know if and how they would exit the cave. But, at the minimum, they knew that they were found. And they now knew that there was a worldwide effort to save them.

That alone – the knowledge that others are trying their utmost on your behalf, that the entire world is praying for you – is enough to lift one’s spirits even in the darkest of places.

In a sense, the boys were rescued not only by the heroic efforts of the divers, but also by the collective prayers of humanity across the globe.

***

Life sometimes feels like a cave. And sometimes the cave of life feels dark and endless, with no exit in sight.

In fact, the Jewish people’s existence sometime feels like it’s traveling through an endless cave in the depths of the earth. It’s been nearly two thousand years since the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed. That was just the beginning of immeasurable suffering that our nation has experienced.

Today, Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av, marks the beginning of the Nine Days, a particularly sad time on the Jewish calendar.

How do we find the courage and strength to be upbeat in our personal lives and communal journey?

***

In this week’s double parsha Matot-Mas’ei we read about the 42 stops the Jewish people made on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. They wandered for forty years. Each time they arrived at an encampment they had no idea how long they would stay and where they would head next. It must have been difficult and discouraging. They were trapped in their own cave of confusion.

So, how did they know when and where to march forward?

The Torah tells us that the Cloud of Glory led the way. They knew that if the clouds moved, it was time to depart. When they stopped it was time to pitch their tents. They had the most dependable and accurate GPS system one can imagine! Knowing that G-d was showing them the way, cheering them and caring for them – made their journey bearable. In fact, it made it an enjoyable journey, an odyssey filled with excitement and devotion.

*

We, too, are on a journey. In our private lives and in the shared nationhood of Jewry, we do not live in an aimless void.

G-d charts the course of our lives. Hashem is guiding us forward.

Knowing that the world’s greatest Cheerleader is cheering me on, praying for me and caring for me – gives me the boost I need to march forward every day.

*

These Nine Days are indeed a tragic and sad time. But, they are not a dead end. They are but a stop on the journey to the best time ever – the coming of Moshiach. Hashem is caringly guiding us toward that very special era of peace and harmony. This ought to give each of us an extra spring in our step, knowing that the Diver-in-Chief is rooting for us and about to rescue us.

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