“You will eat and you will be satisfied and you will bless the L-rd, your G-d, for the good land that He gave you. (Devarim 8:10)

“The 2010 Copiapó mining accident began on Thursday, 5 August 2010 with a cave-in at the San José copper–gold mine, located in the Atacama Desert 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of the regional capital of Copiapó, in northern Chile. Thirty-three men were trapped 700 meters (2,300 ft.) underground and 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the mine’s entrance via spiraling underground ramps.” (Wikipedia)

August 23, 2010, NYTimes.com, Trapped Chilean Miners Send Message

SANTIAGO, Chile — Thirty-three miners trapped underground for 17 days in a collapsed gold and copper mine in northern Chile sent up a message tied to a drill on Sunday, telling rescuers they were all alive.

President Sebastián Piñera said the paper message was tied to a drill that rescuers used to bore through to the area near an underground shelter where the miners are located. But he said “it will take months” to get the trapped men out. “It will take time,” the beaming president said at the mine head, “but it doesn’t matter how long it takes to have a happy ending.”

The miners’ message, written with red paint, read “The 33 of us in the shelter are well.” Mr. Piñera held up the piece of paper on television, as drivers honked horns here in the capital and diners applauded in restaurants.

The miners are four and a half miles inside the winding mine and about 2,300 feet vertically underground. They are inside a mine shaft shelter the size of a small apartment. The authorities said they had limited amounts of food. Rescuers plan to send narrow plastic tubes called doves down the narrow borehole with food, hydration gels and communications equipment. Relatives hugged one another and thanked G-d as news of the message reverberated outside the entrance to the mine, where they had been camped out since the mine caved in on Aug. 5.

August 27, 2010, NYtimes.com, Video Messages from Trapped Chilean Miners

Relatives of 33 miners trapped in a collapsed mine shaft far below in Chile’s Atacama Desert have been shown a video of the men. “We have organized everything very well down here,” says the miner recording the video, whose face appears only in glancing shots. “Here is where we meet every day, here is where we plan, where we pray,” he says.

October 12, 2010, NYTimes.com, aol.com, The Day of the Rescue

President Obama said earlier, “While the rescue is far from over and difficult work remains, we pray that by G-d’s grace, after 68 days underground, all of the miners will be able to emerge safely and return to their families soon.” …

Edison Peña Villarroel, 34, the fitness buff who ran several miles a day in the mine, has emerged. “Thank G-d we’re alive,” he said. Mario Sepúlveda, the second miner to be rescued and the narrator of the much-watched video that took viewers on a tour of the underground quarters, told Chilean journalists, he never lost faith in G-d…

Darwin Cortez, brother of miner Pedro Cortez, the 31st miner up, sprayed champagne across the crowd.  He said: “Thank G-d, thank G-d. They are all safe. It’s a miracle!”  One by one throughout the day, the miners had emerged to the cheers of exuberant Chileans and before the eyes of a transfixed globe.

Sometimes, we gain life-altering insights through the experiences of others. As one miner after another surfaced expressing thanks to G-d for their survival, this gratitude was echoed by their family and friends and relayed to the world at large by over 1,300 journalists. This message of appreciation to a Greater Force for a new lease on life was contagious.

Fortunately, it is not necessary to endure a near-death experience to appreciate the awesome opportunity of each day. Judaism teaches that each Jew, even on routine days, must articulate appreciation to G-d, to cultivate the understanding that life itself is a huge gift. In this week’s Parshas Eikev we derive the source for Birkas HaMazon, thanking G-d after enjoying a meal with bread.

It is through the means of Brachos that we come to acknowledge and appreciate the overwhelming goodness with which we are truly blessed. And yet, as political science Professor Stephen Baron at SUNY-Oswego writes (aish.com), even 100 daily Brachos may only express a fraction of the appreciation we should really feel. It is in this context that we launch our quest to understand the role of Brachos in Judaism.

Click here for the NLE Morasha Syllabus shiur on the Concept and Practice of Brachos.


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