I'm sitting here now, with the news playing in the background of the Chilean miners being rescued one by one. On my way into school this morning they were up to ten or eleven. Now I hear the cheering as number twelve emerges, as the previous ones did, in good spirits, upbeat and healthy.

Truly a miracle. I remember a few months ago, 69 days to be exact, when the shaft collapsed, thinking to myself, what a horror, what a pity. Then, a couple of weeks later when they discovered that they were somehow still alive, I was amazed at the apparent miracle, but particularly at the daunting challenge that still lay in front of them—to stay alive, stay alert, stay upbeat until the rescuers could figure out how to get them out.

What a frightening situation! To be stuck in a very small space, for an indefinite period of time. The claustrophobia, the fear of the unknown, dividing tiny portions of food and making it stretch endlessly so that all could survive. I wondered at the time if I could ever do it.

As time progressed, the rescue efforts began, importing experts from around the world—doctors, engineers, psychologists, the list goes on. It was a mission facing unprecedented odds; each contingency needed to be addressed.

When they got a larger shaft open they were able to send down food, medicine, cameras and other critical items to keep the miners going. I could be wrong about this, but I don't believe that they were popping pills all day to fight depression.

How, I continued to ask myself, are they doing it?

Only the next few weeks and months will confirm, but based on the news reporting, I posit the following. Two key ingredients (ones that our faith demands of us as well) were employed in full force.

Ingredient One: They had a strict regimen of rules and regulations that all obeyed. Everyone was forced to realize that the future of each of them depended on the others. There was no such thing as "every man for himself." They divided food in a simple manner to make sure everyone ate. They had a strict regimen of exercise that everyone needed to adhere to, so that they could stay fit and sane and be the correct size to fit into the rescue capsule. They needed each other. They needed to get along and work as a team to get the job done. They were responsible for one another.

As a rabbi, I am often asked why there are so many rules in Judaism. Why isn't Judaism easier and less restrictive? This story provides a perfect answer. Life is a journey towards an ultimate rescue. If we did whatever we pleased without regard for one another, while we might temporarily feel free, we'd ultimately feel bogged down by our own selfishness, and we'd never get out of our cave. The rules of Torah are not there to restrict us, but to guide us through the labyrinth of life's caves and collapsed mines. They are the solution, not the problem.

Ingredient Two: Our mutual responsibility to one another. In Judaism, it's called Ahavat Yisrael. As it says in Ethics of the Fathers (1:14), "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I?" We are all responsible for one another, and the miners' story highlighted this perfectly. For the rescue to be successful, they had to work as a team.

The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, once compared our mutual interdependence to a mission in outer space: if one astronaut wants to light up a cigarette, he cannot simply do it. His selfish actions would jeopardize everyone's lives.

So too in our own lives—each person's life depends on the other. Sometimes this is obvious, as seen in Chile, and sometimes we need to dig a bit to feel and know it. But it is always true.