Ask the Rebbetzin – Shabbat Observance

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Q: I am baal teshuva, we started to keep Shabbos about 5 years ago. My husband was supportive at first but now he is drifting away. I love to invite people for Friday dinner but my husband is resentful to invite more observant people from the community and therefore no one invites us. We are older people in our 60’s and no longer have children at home. On Shabbos, despite preparing a delicious meal and serving it on a beautiful table, I feel very lonely and somewhat sad. I am at a loss how I can inspire my husband. Local Rabbi offered to study with my husband, but he declined.

I will appreciate any advice. Thank you

A: It must be incredibly challenging to feel a disconnect between you and your husband regarding Shabbos. Don’t be discouraged. Stay true to your own Shabbos observance.

Your focus should be on creating the desired atmosphere at the Shabbos table. When you are alone, talk about what he likes. Prepare a Shabbos thought that can be discussed. Illustrate to your husband the transformative effect Shabbos has on you – how it brings you joy, serenity, and a profound sense of inner peace. Your demeanor during Shabbos, marked by happiness and tranquility, can serve as a compelling example for him to follow. Show your husband how Shabbos makes you more enjoyable to be with.

Consider what can be done so that your husband does not feel deprived or isolated.  It might be worthwhile to extend invitations to his friends to join you for dinner (I am assuming that they are Jewish. If they aren’t let me know) A Shabbos invitation must include the option of staying within walking distance. Even if they choose to drive you’ve done your part provided you feel that their stay with you will inspire them to keep Shabbos in the future.

I can see why your husband might feel uncomfortable learning with the Rabbi but there are so many easy to read halacha books available. Perhaps studying with you would be an option. How nice if you could convince your husband to go for semicha online. It will be challenging but there is nothing demeaning about reaching for the highest possible level.

Maintaining patience, understanding and a positive attitude will be key as you navigate this journey together. Remember every small step forward is a victory worth celebrating.

I have left the most important suggestion for last. Never underestimate the power of prayer. I remember hearing about a Baal Teshuvah who was a professional. He eventually became an outstanding Torah scholar. How? His wife didn’t stop beseeching Hashem to make it happen. You too should keep praying for Hashem to guide your husband on his path towards greater observance.

May the blessings of Shabbos permeate both your hearts, bringing you closer to each other and to the divine presence.

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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: