T hey said it was life-changing.

Gila is slightly wary of their effusive tones, gushing with the headiness of it all, and maybe a touch smug too. She wants her life changed — who doesn’t? She wants to live each moment in soul-state, to touch divinity every day amid the rush of dishes, PTAs, shidduch suggestions, and suppers, endless suppers — for her family, newlywed daughter, and the grandchildren that romp in her kitchen. But somehow the women she speaks to, the brimming testimonials on the website, it all builds her resistance to the teleconference course — like this is gonna change my life?

But she has to try.

She signs up, reads off her card details, and carves herself a cocoon of solitude — in the laundry room, of all places. It’s the only niche in the house she can get some quiet. Nestled among the linen and towels and the heady Spring Meadow fragrance, she listens intently and awaits the transformation.

Too much pep about the course has made a skeptic of her. Weeks go by and she swings her young-old legs against the laundry counter as the rebbetzin talks about bringing Hashem into your life. Her yellow notebook is abandoned and she reaches for the overflowing basket and begins to fold.

She’s upset at herself for losing the utmost concentration she’d promised to give this course, but somehow between one sock and the other, the rebbetzin’s ideas start to stretch and roll in her brain. The rebbetzin is talking about the deeper meaning of the tefillah of asher yatzar now. The concepts are crumpled and creased in her mind. But it’s nothing that cannot be ironed, she assures herself.

When the day’s session is done, Gila isn’t sure what to make of it. She hears, she feels something, but it hasn’t really resonated. The other women on the line make themselves vociferously heard at the Q&A session. They beg the rebbetzin to slow down, they think she’s crowding their brains and they’ll never learn like this. Gila speaks too, so many questions and doubts, and she leaves the laundry room thinking it is quite beyond her.

Several days later, she walks out into the snowy evening and slips on the ice. She is numb with cold everywhere but her hand; it is burning, searing at her side, and she shivers with sweat and pain.

At the hospital they X-ray her hand and pronounce it fractured. She will need a small operation to put it right. The operation should take 20 minutes, the doctor says. Her husband, who has driven her to the hospital, leaves to daven Minchah. He says he’ll be back soon, to take her home when the procedure’s over.

Gila has never done well with medical intervention. Somehow the sedation goes awry and knocks her out cold for three hours. The procedure on her hand is done, but she is in a gas-induced haze that stretches on ominously.

She finally awakes and through the fog, hears the nurse asking her to move her hand. In her semi-conscious state there is a wave of panic. Where is my hand? She cannot feel, cannot move a limb. Do I have a hand? (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 558)