UPDATE  July 10 – Humanity celebrated the dramatic end of the 2-week ordeal ended today when Thai authorities announced that all 12 boys and their coach had been successfully rescued from the flooded cave complex. The boys had been given anti-anxiety medication for the treacherous journey to reduce the chance of panic. The boys are said to be in relatively good health, but are quarantined due to the risk of infection, specifically a fungus called speleonosis ("cave disease").

July 8, 2018 – The rescue mission is underway.

People around the world are holding their breath today as a team of expert divers attempts a perilous 5-hour underwater rescue mission to extract 12 Thai boys who've been trapped for two weeks in a flooded, remote cave.

With monsoon rains imminent and oxygen levels in the cave at a debilitating 15%, rescuers are now attempting to extract the boys in a feverish race against time.

The rescue path is a perilous 3-mile maze of zero-visibility tunnels – full of sharp boulders, excruciatingly narrow passages, wild currents, and boulders the size of a building. It is a journey one expert diver called the equivalent of scaling Mount Everest.

The precarious rescue is compounded by the fact that most of the boys cannot swim, much less use diving gear.

In today's connected world, this event has galvanized the attention of all humanity. Rescue squads, divers, medical personnel and engineers from around the globe – everything from Israeli communication technology to Elon Musk's multi-discipline team – have gathered to assist rescue operations.

This global outpouring of compassion and concern comes at a time when the value of human life is at times questioned. Two recent examples:

  • Some U.S. hospital administrators – in order to maintain high "productivity metrics" – have resorted to turning away dangerously ill patients.

  • A Florida court elected not to prosecute a group of teens who mocked and videotaped a drowning man – refusing to assist him during critical distress or to even call 911.

In Thailand, we now see the opposite side of the coin: going to great lengths to save the boys. A team of Thai Navy Seals has pledged to risk their lives for the mission; one former Seal has already died trying.

Another diver, a U.S. Air Force rescue specialist who has dived the world's most dangerous spots, flew to Thailand to assist the rescue. “Normally, I’d just turn around,” he said about his harrowing journey through the cave. “But then normally I don’t have 12 boys, and their entire lives, as an endpoint.”

The collective compassion for the fate of these boys, strangers in a faraway land, and the enormous resources expended to save them inspires hope in mankind. Along with the prayers of billions worldwide, this is a true Kiddush Hashem, fulfilling God's instruction to "be sanctified among the people " (Leviticus 22:32).

As we pray for a successful outcome in Thailand, one thing is certain: Humanity has come together beautifully, in common cause, to lift beyond ourselves and care about a fellow human being created, just as we are, in God's image.