L ast year as the 3rd of Cheshvan approached, I just knew something amazing would happen in my life.

The year before on Gimmel Cheshvan, my son became a chassan, and the year before that on the same date, my daughter got married. By Rosh Chodesh I was eagerly trying to guess what wonderful things Hashem had in store for me three days hence, and on the 2nd of Cheshvan, I even called my sister and told her, “Devorah, something great is going to happen tomorrow. Make sure to answer your phone.”

As I had (and have) several children in the parshah, I naturally assumed the Great Event would again be shidduch-related: Perhaps we’d finally be redt the shidduch of our dreams. Or maybe a shadchan would call to arrange a package deal.

Last year Gimmel Cheshvan was on Friday, and the early morning of the Big Day found me diligently at work in the kitchen, racing to prepare Shabbos early so that I’d be present and able to savor the miracle hours that were sure to come. Little did I know I’d be living through the miracle just seconds later.

Boom! Crash! Crackle! Snap! What the…? My entire kitchen is instant smoke and blackness. My tichel blows off and flies across the room. My glasses fly off my face and into the sink. I’m engulfed in smoke and jagged shards of glass and twisted metal and splattered food and blasted open cabinets and falling ceiling plaster. I’m standing in the eye of an explosion. Am I alive? Burned? Maimed? Cut? Bleeding?

It was the pressure cooker — filled with arbis (chickpeas) — having somehow morphed into an active bomb (I still shudder thinking of the Boston Marathon bombers who killed three and injured hundreds with a couple of homemade pressure-cooker bombs) as it blasted the cooktop apart, sending sharp projectiles of mangled metal skidding across the floor and through the air. It also took out the kitchen window just above the cooktop, demolishing the blinds and leaving a deformed aluminum frame in its wake — but also creating an instant exit path for the smoke and the force of the blast.

A second or two of eerie silence, and then everyone came running — my thoughtful daughter dashing in with another tichel, my son (who’d taken a medic course) pulling me out of the smoke to check how badly I was injured, my neighbor, taking in the destruction and chaos and bursting into tears upon seeing that I was still alive.

A quick body check revealed that not only was I alive, I didn’t have a scratch. Did I mention that I was standing less than a foot away from the cooktop? Did I say that all around and above me, cabinet doors were blasted open as dishes and plaster rained down? “Geveret,” the insurance assessors told me when they came later to evaluate the damage, “bederech hateva at lo tzrichah lihiyot bachayim” (loosely translated: “You’re a walking miracle”).

Well, I may not have been scratched on the outside, but inside was a different story. Every time I walked into the kitchen (the restoration team did an amazing job cleaning up, despite the aggravation we’re still having over insurance claims and their inflated billing), I would see myself engulfed in smoke, surrounded by a bubble of protection from Hashem to keep me safe, and I’d hear Him say something like “I’m the one in charge of miracles around here.” I began having these flashbacks several times an hour, and all nightlong for weeks afterward. I sensed myself being carried through the day by Hashem’s benevolence and protection — a profound place to be spiritually, but just not sustainable in my day-to-day functioning. There was no room in my head for anything but the image of being in Hashem’s casing of protection as destruction raged around me. This is surely how angels feel.

And so, after several months, I asked a therapist friend for help in getting me out of this PTSD and into “regular” life again. Amazingly, after a few sessions of EFT and the TAT acupressure technique, there were no more kitchen flashbacks. The obsessive images simply disappeared. But so did the real, tangible feeling of living in Hashem’s protective bubble, the headspace of angels — collateral damage that still saddens me. And I wonder: Is it possible to get that back without having to live through a catastrophe in the process? (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 564)