Sarah: Wednesday night, 11 Kislev

All night I’d been busy blaming people. It was so convenient. My parents, my teachers, the friends who hadn’t been there for me… Now I lay in my hospital bed, walking my fingers along the IV tube and thinking. Obviously, my education was to blame. My teachers must have planted the seeds back when I was young and vulnerable. But then, what about Yaela? Yaela had gone to a secular high school in Ramat Aviv, became a baalas teshuvah when she was 20, and joined our community. She started dressing her daughters in two wraps from age three.

And wait — there was also Shira. She’d gone to the Hebrew University High School — a totally secular place, of course.

So if, out of all the girls from my high school, I was the only one who’d joined Rabbanit Chana’s group, and if the group included women from all backgrounds, that meant…?

It meant that I missed them terribly. That I needed them. That I was going to call them, right now. I would call Rabbanit Chana, Udel, and Miriam. I’d call them all.

There was just one problem — my phone was blocked from reaching those numbers. I’d dictated all their numbers to Tatty myself so he could block them for outgoing calls.

But I had to call them. What had come over me? How could I have thought of leaving them? I must have been crazy — it wasn’t as if I had a whole crowd of other friends waiting for me. Who else would listen to me, understand me, make me feel part of a very elevated group? Who would help me with Rivky without expecting thanks? And besides, I wanted so much to be the best I could be. That’s what I’d always wanted.

Of its own accord, my right hand reached for the drawer of the bedside cabinet. I took out the items that were folded there. I opened them, and with an effort, pulled one over my shoulders, and the other over my head. Ow, that hurt. There. I was back in my shal. And my redid.

Carefully, I slid out of the bed, and straightened the rumpled shal. A sweet feeling enveloped me. I felt like my real self again.

Wheeling the IV stand along with me, I made my way to the nurses’ station.

“I need to use the phone.”

“Sarah?” Jenny, the head nurse, was looking at me in astonishment.

“I have to make a phone call. It’s important!”

“Who do you want to call?”

“My… my friends.”

“Sarah, it’s the middle of the night,” she reminded me.

“I know. But I have to call them.” I needed to get out of the hospital already. I would call Rabbanit Chana. I would ask her to forgive me. I’d tell her that I spoke to her that way only because I was in shock from the wound and woozy from the medication.

“I’m sorry,” Jenny said. “We don’t allow patients to use the staff phones.” Then Achinoam, the other nurse on duty, came back from a patient’s room.

“Please,” I begged her. “Let me use your cell phone.”

(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 702)