A Nail-Biting Dilemma

Question

Dear Rabbi,

Can I still consider myself as someone who is “Shomer Shabbat” (a Sabbath observer) if I can’t help but bite my nails? I always bite my nails and pick my lip and I was wondering if this makes me not considered as a person who is Shomer Shabbat. (I think I have a nail-biting “disorder” since I was only eight years old). Thank you very much!

3 months

Answers

  1. I am happy to announce that you should certainly consider yourself as someone who is in the category of “Shomer Shabbat”! The fact that you struggle with certain details of Shabbat observance — especially if a medical condition plays a role — does not negate the fact that you do keep Shabbat.

    At least speaking for myself, although I think it is possibly true for others as well, it is normal to have a “struggle” — to a lesser or greater degree — with our success in mitzvah observance. But one’s effort to do one’s best is actually how one is able to become closer to God. And, as I have been taught, this spiritual growth occurs both through our triumphs and our (temporary) defeats!

    May I make an unsolicited suggestion? If you have not yet tried it, there is a form of nail varnish that is sold expressly to try and help people to stop biting their nails. It is transparent and it tastes absolutely awful!

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team