Ask the Rebbetzin – Shabbat

Q: I am very ill, slowly deteriorating, and living alone – my lovely children have grown up and the three here in the UK are married, not living anywhere close. I’m trying to move to be closer to them but it’s proving very difficult. I have a good non-Jewish home help, and if I need council carers they will come in to help me wash and dress, but mostly I have to manage. As I slowly lose abilities to do things, I’m struggling so much with Shabbat – last Shabbos for the first time I didn’t even manage to make kiddush either time, or eat solids, and now have to light candles in a glass container as I go to sleep soon after. I’m in a lot of pain, and unable to read more than a page or so before it’s too much. How do I adjust internally to find a deep knowing I am still in Shabbat kodesh, even if the physical things that I’ve done all my life are now becoming impossible? Any suggestions appreciated.

A: Before delving into your distress over observing Shabbat, I want to highlight a crucial point: with every breath you take, you fulfill the mitzvah of “Ve’chai ba’hem.” Your steadfast dedication to Hashem despite your challenges serves as the ultimate kiddush Hashem – a rare opportunity that few encounter.

The Yetzer Hora endeavors to undermine such a profound accomplishment. It aims to dismantle your inner peace and weaken your resolve. Combat its destructive tactics by recognizing that even the smallest actions you take amidst your suffering hold immense significance in the eyes of Hashem. Your longing to sanctify Shabbat, amidst all your pain, is akin to countless magnificent deeds performed by others each week – even if you are unable to do anything.

While Shabbat is designed to cleanse our souls, your enduring struggles epitomize this purification every moment of every day. You’re edging closer to the spiritual pinnacle we all strive for. May the Healer of all flesh bring healing and redemption not only to you but to all members of the Jewish community. 

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Rebbetzin Sara Feldbrand is an educator and writer. The Rebbetzin’s best selling books have been praised by many well known rabbis, educators and mental health professionals. Some of her books have been translated into French, German and Russian. She is currently available to conduct workshops on topics such as tefillah, personal growth and emotional resilience. She also counsels, mainly through her email address: