My phone rang on that icy night. I had a feeling it was her even before I looked at the name. Yes, I was right. It was my very pregnant client. “Elana, I think I’m in labor.”

This is the third year in a row that we’ve had a snowstorm in Jerusalem. It’s also the third year that I received a call from a woman in labor during the snowstorm. Such an exciting life, to be a doula!

“Hi, Shoshana, what’s happening?”

Such an exciting life, to be a doula!

“I’m shaking, I’m in pain. I think I’m in labor. I want you to come to my home.”

I looked out the window. Was that hail or snow or just cold wind? After all, I’m a Californian, what do I know?! I took a moment to assess the situation. Shoshana, a mother of eight, was about to, G‑d willing, have her ninth baby. I trusted her when she told me that she thought that she was in labor, I just didn’t know what to do about the weather. Jerusalem in the snow becomes an empty ghost town. No one is on the road. The taxis stop working. The buses stop working. The schools close. The shops close. You get the idea. Jerusalem, with even the threat of snow, shuts down.

“Shoshana, I’m going to call taxi companies and see if anyone will come get me, and I’ll call you back.”

I called all the companies that I knew and had my kids look through the yellow pages. But try as I might, no cab drivers wanted to be out in this weather.

Plan B. I called back Shoshana.

“Shoshana, I can’t get a taxi, and I certainly can’t walk so far to you in this weather. Call an ambulance now, before it’s an actual emergency, and I will walk to the Bikur Cholim hospital and meet you there.” (Thank G‑d, I am only a 10-minute walk from the hospital, and from the past two years’ experience knew that I could easily make it, even in the snow.)

Birthing bag, gloves, boots, coat and scarf—check. I grabbed a hot water bottle and held it under my coat. “This isn’t so bad,” I thought to myself. It wasn’t really snowing, just icy.

When I arrived, I saw Shoshana, who looked confused but happy to see me. She was lying down with a fetal monitor. “I was shaking with each contraction, I felt so sure, but actually I’m not in labor!” she told me.

I smiled my easy “No problem, this can happen to anyone” smile and massaged her shoulder.

I looked out the window. NOW it was snowing. An hour later, I trudged back home. It was now 10:30 at night. I was cold. My boots were wet. I was ready for bed.

Four a.m., my phone rang. Of course, it was Shoshana. “Elana, I’m having very strong contractions. I know it’s it this time. We’re going back to the hospital.”

“Okay, call me when you’re there and I will come.”

That happened so fast!

Take two: Birthing bag, gloves, boots, coat and scarf—check. This time the streets were covered in snow. How beautiful is my Jerusalem, covered in snow! I said Psalms as I walked carefully in the middle of the empty road. Beautiful, pregnant Shoshana was not yet ready to give birth, but was experiencing birth pangs. I helped her into the hot shower and stayed with her as we breathed together and I massaged her back and shoulders.

“I CAN’T DO THIS!” she screamed.

“Yes, you can! Let go. Open up. Let G‑d take out your baby.”

An hour later, the midwife checked her. Shoshana was now in active labor. One contraction, and she was fully dilated. At 6:30 a.m., as the sun started to come and illuminate the snowy streets of golden Jerusalem, Shoshana gave birth to a baby boy.

“That happened so fast!” the midwife exclaimed.

I smiled to myself as I thought of the night before.

G‑d told Abraham that his descendants would be enslaved and afflicted in a foreign land for 400 years,1 but He actually took us out after only 210 years. The Torah tells us:

And the L‑rd said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and I have heard their cry because of their slave drivers, for I know their pains. I have descended to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up from that land, to a good and spacious land . . . So now come, and I will send you to Pharaoh, and take My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt . . .2

Boy, did we have birth pangs in Egypt. They enslaved us, they oppressed us, and we weren’t even in active labor yet! G‑d heard our cry, and He speeded up the labor process. First He made it harder on us—Pharoah’sBoy, did we have birth pangs in Egypt! initial reaction to Moses was to further oppress Israel by forcing them to make their own mortar bricks. This extra push, the intense pain, was the nation’s final transition from active labor to birth, and within a year we were free. Instead of another 190 years of painful contractions, G‑d quickly “opened up” Egypt and hastily took us out. With the breaking of dawn, we were reborn.

In every difficult situation that you are in, no matter how long that you feel that you have been there, you have to understand that, yes, it could become more challenging, but the difficulty, the intensity of it, is actually the process which will end it. Cry out! Call to G‑d, scream out to Him! Because He hears you. In one long moment you are enslaved, but in the next moment you are freed. You are out. You are reborn. You are redeemed.