In my campaign for legalizing the private teaching of Hebrew in Russia, I publicly insisted that my Hebrew lessons be accepted as a legitimate occupation. It did not contradict Soviet law, but the KGB did what they wanted to do. The popular Russian saying of the time was, “If you are arrested, it means you are guilty.” And I was arrested. I felt depressed, frightened, and beyond hope. I feverishly paced from one corner of the cell to the other like a caged animal.
In those terrible moments of my life it was Shlomo Carlebach who extended his hand to help me. In my mind I suddenly heard one of his songs, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” The lyrics inspired me, and the melody comforted me. My thoughts slowly turned in another direction. The walls of my cell began to expand and the gloomy atmosphere of the prison was replaced by the warm, familial embrace of the Jewish world, its past and ongoing future. I was ready to withstand any test. I was not alone.
The most important thing is not to give up.
Don’t ever give up on the world. Don’t ever give up on any human being. We are all created in G-d’s image, every one of us is so very holy. Every one of us has the capacity to be so good. We just need good friends to remind us.
The difference between young and old is: Those who still believe are young. Those who gave up are old.
What does it mean to honor myself? It means to wait. To wait to be better.
Each time I do something good, G-d blows His mind over it.