Yesterday, a flight from Tel Aviv headed to the USA did an about-face and flew back to its starting point as its landing gear acted up. At that time, a state of emergency was called at the airport and a fleet of ambulances and emergency personnel was assembled (about 80 ambulances all lined up waiting for casualties that can be viewed here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLsbGEIdtH8&feature=player_embedded#at=283). For hours, the plane circled the sea, trying to jettison and burn the fuel on board to minimize any explosion upon landing. Then, in the wee hours of morning, the plane came cruising in and landed without mishap. Safe, on the ground.
During those many hours of the plane being literally “up in the air” calls went out for Psalms to be recited to give the merit for a safe landing for the plane. Seems that the prayers were heard as the plane set itself down as soft as a butterfly on a flower.
And then today El Al officials issue statements and comments how the plane was never in danger, that they were never really worried. Uh, then why’d you order all those ambulances to the airport? Hello!!
It is the smugness of survival often that wipes away the past fear of danger. How many times do we make G-d promises in the dark of night, only to forget them in the light of morning? How many times do we walk away from what should be wake-up calls, saying, nah, that was nothing?
An old joke you probably heard already but it bears retelling: A man is at the race tracks and prays, “G-d, you know I need money. For my effort I placed a bet on that dark horse in the back and You make my pick win. If you do that, I’ll be forever grateful and serve You loyally” The horses begin racing, and the dark horse, the old nag that never won a race yet, begins to gain on the other more agile horses. The man is praying like never before, “c’mon, G-d, let him draw even with the others in the pack.” Sure enough, round the bend the horses go, and the dark unlikely horse gains even with the lead horse. “G-d, get him in the front and I promise I’ll serve You like never before.” The dark horse gains an inch. As the horse heads to the finish line, the devoted praying man looks up and says, “It’s okay, G-d, I’ll take it from here.”
Done with G-d when the tight moments are over is a recurring human error.
And El Al has done it today, forgetting yesterday’s danger so as to have no obligation to thank G-d’s mercy.