Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Chilean Miners - Spiritually Revisited

The Cave, the Real World & the Legacy of the Elders
By Tzvi Freeman

Let's allow ourselves a little imagination. Let's imagine that instead of miners in Chile, a father and mother with small children found themselves trapped within the earth's bowels. Maybe two such families. Let's say that the people above managed to lower to these two families food, light and energy, but without any communication. And let's say this remained the status quo for 100 or so years, until technology advanced to the point that they could be rescued.

Now let's imagine what might be happening down in that almost-forsaken cavern all those years. Children are growing up with no memory of the world above. The parents take it upon themselves to educate them. The class goes something like this:

"Child, you must know that this is not the real world. The real world is up there. See, where that light comes from, where the rope lowers down food and energy for us down here."

"What's up there, Mommy? What's up there, Daddy?"

"Up there, there are people. They walk upon the soil, upon which grows grass and trees. Up there, there is a big sky, all blue, with a bright sun shining over it."

"What is a sun?"

"A sun is a bright ball of fire that shines in the sky, lighting up all the world!"

"What holds it there?"

"It is just there, burning in the sky."

"You saw it?"

"We saw it every day."

"Wow! Can we go? Can we go?"

"Yes, my child, if we keep digging. We dig and those up there who send us the food also dig, and one day we will meet. Then you will also see the real world. In the meantime, remember always, this is not the real world."

Now imagine those children growing older and bearing children of their own. In the stale air of the cavern, the older generation has already passed on. And now it is up to the children to hold that same conversation with their children:

"Children, you must know that this is not the real world."

"Say what?"

"No, the real world is up there—where the food and energy comes from."

"So what's up there?"

"I've never seen it, but my father and mother told me there are people there, but not in caves. They walk on soil on which grass grows, beneath a sky…"

"What is a sky?"

"It's big and blue, and bright ball of fire called the sun hangs there."

"In the middle of the sky?"

"Yep, but it doesn't burn anything."

"Weird. You sure about this stuff?"

"Like I said, that's what my Mom & Dad told me. I trust them. You should too. And they said that if we keep digging, according to the instructions they gave us, one day we'll connect with that real world."

Keep that imagination going. Fast forward to the next generation:

"Okay, kids, class time."

"More tunnel geography today?"

"No, today is a special class. Something our parents told us that their parents said we must teach you all. It's called real world studies."

"That's okay, we already know how to live in the real world."

"No you don't, because you've never been there. This is not the real world. The real world, they said, is up there, where the food and energy comes from. There are people up there walking around on grass underneath a sky."

"Walking on what? Under…"

"Don't be disrespectful. This is what our parents taught us. And they heard…"

"So who says they got it right. Sounds like another fairy tale to me."

"You have to have more faith in your elders. They said that in the sky is a big ball of fire called a sun."

"That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. You can't have a ball of fire just suspended there!"

"Well then how does the food and energy get down here? Who sends it to us?"

"That's a lousy question. It just comes. That's just the way the world works."

Now imagine the rebellion seething, boiling and overflowing as the elders hopelessly attempt to defend a position they never really got straight to begin with.

And then, just as the legacy of the elders seems crushed to the ground, the ceiling bursts open and in crashes a real live person.

"Whoa! Where did you come from?"

"Oh, I'm from up there."

"Up where?"

"You know, up there beneath the sky, where the sun shines."

"You believe in that stuff, too?"

"Believe? Hey, that's where I'm from!"

"Tell us about it."

So this real live person begins to tell. And now even the most jaded among the cynics are sitting up to hear his words.

Now let go of the imagination and enter back into our world—where all this tale has happened and continues to happen again and again.

The tale is told in different forms about Abraham, about the Arizal and about the Baal Shem Tov. Where tradition had failed, these men of vision succeeded—because for them it was not just a story of the past; it was real, more real than the earth they stood upon. In that sense, it could be applied to many of the great tzadikim, each one in his or her own way.

And now, perhaps the event of the Chilean miners for whom we all prayed and cheered will help us apply the tale to yet another tzadik, one for whom we have waited all these years, the one who will be called the Moshiach.

May the ceiling burst open very soon.
More by Tzvi, here.


  1. AMEN! Thanks for sharing this. Shabbat shalom!

  2. beautiful post!..thank you for your profound words at WHT~!:)