What the Rav said:
Every fall will turn into an ascent. This is all ‘falling down for the sake of being raised up’.
All the fallings are really the opposite. A person goes through descents, and he doesn’t realise that now he’s able to bring the entire world back to Hashem in teshuva.
He can relate to people, that this also happened to me too, I also went through this. Just make teshuva.
Secular people don’t know how to make teshuva. They want to make teshuva but they don’t know how. So, you come along and say to them, Look, I did it, you can too.
Go to houses, show them that you too used to walk around in your swimsuit on the beach, you too had a hair down to your waist, you used to look like a monkey, you used to look like an animal.
Why did you need to go through all this? So that you can bring others back in teshuva.
Go from door to door, knock on doors, tell them that you used to be like this and that, I used to look like you too, exactly like you, and now I have a beard and payot…
All of this happened to you, so that you would show others the path, and you will know how to bring others back in teshuva.
Very powerful words.
For those of us who are Ba’alei Teshuva, we often want to pretend that our secular life never happened. What was, was, but we don’t want to talk about it now.
The Rav is telling us ‘adarabah!’ – on the contrary! Your past is your strength.
The fact that I went through what I went through, and that I’m standing here today as a (trying to be) orthodox, practicing Jew, is a gift from Hashem.
With that gift, you can do something that perhaps no-one else in the world can do. You can reach people who find themselves in those places where you used to be.
There’s a saying in the Gemara, ‘a prisoner can’t free himself from jail’. However, someone else can – if they have the key.
And, you know what? You may just hold the key to help a lot of people get free from their jail-cells.
So, next time you have an opportunity, reach out to a person who’s where you used to be, and tell him, I used to be there too.
Maybe, you can guide him on the path to freedom?