click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​




V'etchanan(Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11)

V'etchanan 5761

GOOD MORNING!  How much of your success is due to your brains, good judgment, risk taking and experience versus "coincidence"?

Here's the story! The night is November 28th, 1944. You are on the submarine Archer-fish under the command of Captain Joe Enright, patrolling Tokyo Bay. Into the field of your periscope steams the super-aircraft carrier, Shinano, over 70,000 tons (40,000 tons bigger than the U.S. carriers Essex or Yorktown!). Its existence is unknown to the intelligence forces of the United States government! Originally intended to be a battleship, the Japanese lost so many carriers at Mariana Islands, Leyte Gulf and Midway that they put their hopes for victory on fielding this mega-aircraft carrier. It was created with a special concrete-filled double hull to make it virtually impenetrable to torpedoes and with watertight compartments in order to make it almost unsinkable.

Captain Enright has his troubles. The day before his radar went down. In fixing it his technicians had to test it, thus revealing his presence. Now he sees the carrier, but it's traveling too fast at 20 knots (the Shinano had a top speed of 27 knots, but with only 8 of its boilers operable, it could only make 20 knots; a fleet submarine's top speed was 18 knots and push come to shove, 19 knots). Wanting to keep contact with the carrier, Enright continuously uses his radar (a non-standard strategy as it announces his presence; he figures they already know he is there from the previous day's radar testing).

When the Shinano heads south there is no way the sub can keep the carrier in contact, so Archer-fish sends off a contact report to Comsubpac in Hawaii informing them of the target and course. Archer-fish follows the deduced course of the aircraft carrier in hopes that the submarine will get ahead of the carrier when the carrier will zig back to its main course. (When a carrier is in sub-infested waters it does not want to maintain a straight course to give the subs an easy setup to shoot their torpedoes; instead it zigs and zags to the right and left -- starboard and port -- of its course. Sure enough, the carrier is spotted heading back towards the deduced course! The sub submerges to set up a shot. The angle is oblique, but it will have to do. Wait! The carrier is turning due north! A perfect 90 degree, perpendicular shot. Off go a spread of 6 torpedoes at 8 second intervals. Four torpedoes hit ... and about 6 hours later, the super-aircraft carrier sinks with about half of her crew.

Great job! Captain Enright receives the Navy Cross. He did everything right. He sunk the equivalent of the Japanese Bismarck, the last hope of Japan! The application of brains, daring and experience! Now ... here's what Captain Enright didn't know!

The Shinano was commanded by Captain Abe (and no ... he was not Jewish). Captain Abe is directed by the Japanese High Command to move the Shinano to the Inland Sea because they fear that a previous B-29 raid had photographed the Shinano and subsequent bombing missions will target the boatyard where the Shinano is being completed. Captain Abe protests that the Shinano is not ready -- the waterproof compartments have not been air-tested to ensure that they will contain incoming water; there are gaskets missing and doors are mis-aligned. Four of his twelve boilers are not yet operational. The High Command tells him, "Go anyway! And go at night because we have no planes to escort you!"

Captain Abe has report of a submarine using radar (remember the testing to put the Archer-fish's radar back on line?). He assumes there is a wolf pack of submarines out there. When he hears the constant radar (remember: the Archer-fish couldn't keep up, but wanted to keep contact) he commands his four battle-proven destroyer escorts to maintain position around the Shinano. He figures that the submarine is a decoy to draw the destroyers off of their positions so that another sub can sneak inside the perimeter and sink the Shinano. When one of his destroyers spots the sub and takes chase, Captain Abe calls him back and reprimands him -- right before the destroyer can fire upon the sub or depth charge the sub. Had the destroyer pursued the sub, the Shinano could have escaped contact!

After heading south, the Shinano is forced to slow down because of a hot bearing in its propeller shaft, making her speed less than the flank speed of the submarine. Captain Abe is told of the sub's radio broadcast (when the sub could no longer keep radar contact with the Shinano). Figuring that the sub is radioing his new heading to other subs, Captain Abe alters his course back to the north -- towards the Archer-fish which has moved ahead and now lies in wait because of the Shinano's zig and slower speed (due to the hot ball bearing).

When Captain Abe receives report that the radar wave from the sub has ceased (when the submarine submerged for the oblique torpedo shot), he says, "Aha! (or the Japanese equivalent) "the sub is about to fire torpedoes!" So, what does Captain Abe do? He alters his course to the west to ruin the torpedo setup, thus instead putting himself in a perpendicular position to the sub for a classic, perfect setup for a torpedo shot!

Before the four torpedoes hit, Captain Abe has given the order to batten down the hatches. Unfortunately, due to missing and broken gaskets, and mis-aligned doors, the order proves worthless. Rather than heading for shore to beach his carrier and save it, he assumes that four torpedoes cannot do major damage. So, he heads at his best speed towards his destination -- thus forcing more water into his hull ... until it's too late to save the ship and he sinks.

Now, here's the question! What sunk the Shinano? Captain Enright's seamanship and strategy or Captain Abe's assumptions? The answer: both! The lesson: We have to do our best in life. Take into account the information available to us and make our decisions. The outcome? It's out of our hands! Success is in the "hands" of the Almighty. If the Almighty wants that aircraft carrier sunk, it will sink. If He doesn't, it won't.

Want evidence? One year previously our same Captain Enright was commanding the U.S.S. Dace. Comsubpac sent him a Top Secret message. They had intercepted the Japanese naval code and broken it. They gave Captain Enright the location, course and speed of the aircraft carrier Shokaku (which was involved in the bombing of Pearl Harbor). Captain Enright positioned himself in the perfect spot to intercept the aircraft carrier. At the appointed time, there was the aircraft carrier -- 9 miles away (too far to intercept)! The current had slowed to 1/3 of its normal speed, accounting for the different position of the carrier. Captain Enright stood at his periscope, brokenhearted, and watched the carrier sail over the horizon, powerless to do anything. The lesson: do your best, but know that ultimately success is in the hands of the Almighty.


Torah Portion of the Week
V'etchanan

Moshe pleads with God to enter the Holy Land, but is turned down. (Remember, God always answers your prayers -- sometimes with a "yes," sometimes with a "no" and sometimes with a "not yet".) Moshe commands the Children of Israel not to add or subtract from the words of the Torah and to keep all of the Commandments. He then reminds them that God has no shape or form and that we should not make or worship idols of any kind.

The cities of Bezer, Ramot and Golan are designated as Cities of Refuge east of the Jordan river. Accidental murderers can escape there to avoid revengeful relatives.

The Ten Commandments are repeated to the whole Jewish people. Moshe then expounds the Shema, affirming the unity of God, Whom all should love and transmit His commandments to the next generation. A man should wear Tefillin upon the arm and head. All Jews should put a Mezuzah upon each doorpost of their home (except the bathroom).

Moshe then relays the Almighty's command not to intermarry "for they will lead your children away from Me." (Deut. 7:3-4)



CANDLE LIGHTING - August 3:
(or go to candlelighting.org)

Jerusalem  6:58
Guatemala 6:12  Hong Kong 6:44  Honolulu 6:50
J'Burg 5:24  London 8:24  Los Angeles 7:34
Melbourne 5:17  Miami 7:48  Moscow 8:12
New York 7:52  Singapore  6:58



QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

Coincidence is
God's way of staying anonymous.



Dedicated in Honor of

the Anniversary of
Mr. & Mrs. Alvin Lloyd Brown

Published: July 24, 2001

Give Tzedakah! Help Aish.com create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.


  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment
stub
Sign up today!