He sat in his prison cell sulking. I'll call him Steven. Time was playing tricks on him. It seemed like only yesterday and at the same time a lifetime ago that he had everything—a loving wife, beautiful children, a high-powered job on Wall Street and luxuries that the average person couldn't imagine.

Steve was like a man falling into an abyss with nothing to hold on toBut now he was sitting on a hard chair in a dank cell in Upstate New York and he knew all too well how he had fallen. Being rich hadn't been enough. He had needed to be richer and he was doing a fine job of that until he was caught doing illegal insider trading. He was convicted and sent to jail for a number of years. His wife and children still showed their love for him, but there was only so often they could visit and he missed them terribly. Soon after his internment, he heard stories of how too many of the other imprisoned men had gotten "Dear John" letters from their wives and girlfriends, ending loving contact just when they needed it most. Steve feared he would also be left alone, and he was like a man falling into an abyss with nothing to hold on to, nothing to anchor him.

One day, which seemed like every other day of listlessness and sadness, Steven was told he had a visitor. He was soon introduced to Rabbi Richard Bieler, the prison chaplain who had moved up from New York City to take the position. Steven, who was far removed from his Jewish roots, nevertheless was not averse to Rabbi Bieler's visit. When you hit rock bottom, any friendly face is like somebody throwing you a lifeline.

On his first visit, Rabbi Bieler chatted with Steven. Nothing about Judaism, a lot about what Steven needed to talk about. On the next few visits, the rabbi interjected some words of hope, drawing on Jewish sources. Steven took some solace in this and, in subsequent visits, they continued to shared basic human interaction with more and more of Judaism being thrown into the mix.

They got to know each other as people, and Steven looked forward to every one of this rabbi-in-training's visits. They even learned a little Torah, which was probably the first activity of this kind for Steven in years.

Then came the day when Rabbi Bieler would have to tell Steven he was leaving, moving back to New York City. Steven took the news relatively well and thanked the rabbi for all he had done on his behalf. They wished each other all the best and then went on with their lives.

For Rabbi Bieler's part, he walked out of that prison and went on to his next job. For Steven's part, he was not finished intersecting with this rabbi's life.

A number of years later, Rabbi Bieler was walking down a Manhattan street when he came upon a man who looked very familiar in one sense and not familiar in another sense. Then he realized it was Steven, who was far removed from his prison garb. He had on an expensive suit, was immaculately groomed and was carrying a briefcase.

Rather than being diminished by his prison experience, he had a new, positive direction in his lifeThey shook hands warmly, each one happy to be in the other's presence. The rabbi asked Steven what had happened since they had last seen each other. Steven replied that he had so enjoyed the time they had shared so long ago. He added that the Torah sessions –– though relatively few –– had given him a thirst for more Torah knowledge. When the next prison chaplain came in, they learned on a regular basis and his connection to Judaism became the anchor that had been so missing in his life. When he got out of a jail a few years later, rather than being diminished by his prison experience as many are, he had a new, positive direction in his life.

He told Rabbi Bieler how his relationship with his family had strengthened. He told him about getting a new job. And he told him how Judaism mattered to him.

"I'm very happy for you," said the rabbi.

"What's new with you?" asked Steven.

The rabbi said he was leaving the next morning on a trip to Israel with his family.

"Enjoy," said Steven.

The rabbi added that there was a custom of putting notes into the Kotel (Western Wall), a form of communication with G‑d. "You can make requests for things you need," said the rabbi. "Would you like me to put in a note for you?"

"Most definitely," said Steven.

The rabbi took out paper and pen, handed it to Steven and said, "Write what you want to say."

Steven took no more than two seconds to write and handed the note back to the rabbi.

Surprised by how quick he was, the rabbi asked, "What did you write?"

Steven responded, "I wrote something that G‑d doesn't hear often enough. You could look at it."

Rabbi Bieler opened up the piece of paper and it read, "Thank you."

Postscript: To this day, notes Rabbi Bieler, "Steven thanks G‑d for the fact that he had a second chance." A second chance that includes Rabbi Bieler officiating at the wedding of one of Steven's sons.