• Sleep Tight: The Rebbe on Nightmares

    I have been, baruch Hashem, blessed with a few children. While they are well-behaved during the day, they have a very difficult time sleeping through the night. One child gets nightmares and wakes up screaming and another one has a bed-wetting issue. Has the Rebbe ever addressed these issues, so that I may learn from his responses how to address the needs of my children? Rabbi Gershon Avtzon of Yeshivas Lubavitch – Cincinnati answers • Click to Read


    I have been, baruch Hashem, blessed with a few children. While they are well-behaved during the day, they have a very difficult time sleeping through the night. One child gets nightmares and wakes up screaming and another one has a bed-wetting issue. Has the Rebbe ever addressed these issues, so that I may learn from his responses how to address the needs of my children?


    Over the years the Rebbe has written to many people about similar circumstances and challenges. Before going through the various directives and guidance, it is important to have a perspective on the Rebbe’s general approach to healing. In an paradigm-shifting letter (Igros, Vol. 18 p. 28; #6530), which was written to the famous Chassid Rabbi Zalman Duchman, the Rebbe lays out the following foundations:

    Principles of a Jew’s Health and Wellbeing

    (1) The Jewish person is made up of his body and soul. They don’t just co-exist, rather they are dependent on each other.

    (2) The strengthening of the soul brings about the strengthening of the body.

    (3) The soul itself gets strengthened when you touch and reveal the inner dimension of the soul. (4) The inner dimension of the soul is revealed through the inner dimension of the Torah, i.e., the teachings and ways of Chassidus.

    (5) If it is a child that needs healing and is not of age to be able to learn Chassidus, the responsibility falls on the parents of the child.

    With this foundation, let us examine the directives that the Rebbe wrote to people on different occasions that were having sleep issues:

    1) It is certain that a Mezuzah in the home needs attention. There can be an issue with the Mezuzah itself, or with the placement of the Mezuah. Once you are checking the Mezuzos of the house, it is advisable that both pairs of Tefillin of the father should be checked. (Igros, Vol. 12 p. 443; #4259).

    2) There can be an issue with the nutrition that the child is receiving. Making sure that the child is getting the proper food and also that the level of the Kashrus of the food and drink that the child is digesting, can really help to bring improvement. (Igros, Vol. 17 p. 245; #6394).

    3) The Rebbe also suggested that “a picture of my father-in-law the Rebbe be placed at her bedside before she goes to sleep. This should continue even for several nights after the child resumes a normal sleeping pattern.” (From a handwritten note of the Rebbe dated 21 Teves 5711; Iggeres Hachinuch p. 322).

    4) If it is a boy: ensure that while sleeping and saying Krias Shema the child is wearing a kosher Tallis Kattan, and that each corner has the necessary 8 strings. In addition,write down before going to bed — excluding Shabbos and Yom Tov — what learning needs to be made up the following day. (Igros, Vol. 13 p. 29; #4302).

    5) To parents of a daughter that was having trouble sleeping at night and both parents were involved in the education of girls: by bettering the education in the school that you are involved in, you will see a positive difference in regards to the health of your daughter. (Igros, Vol. 12 p. 443; #4259).

    [It is fascinating to point out that the Rebbe encouraged those parents to stop giving certain medications to deal with the sleeping issue. As I am unaware of the details of that particular circumstance, I did not include it in the general approach of the Rebbe. — RGA]


    In regards to bed-wetting in particular, the Rebbe writes (Likkutei Sichos Vol. 36 p. 323): “The advice given is well-known: There must be menuchas hanefesh (an inner calm and tranquility) and hesech haddas (distraction) in regards to this particular issue and not to exaggerate the situation. Obviously, one should minimize the liquid intake before bed-time.”

    The Moshiach Connection: 

    Galus is compared to nighttime, when things are dark ( — no revealed G-dliness) and we are asleep ( —- not fully aware of the truth of creation, and not inspired to serve Hashem). The time of Geula is the time that we wake up from the slumber of Galus and become aware of the true reality of the world.

    It is not enough to wait for Moshiach to come and then wake up, rather we should begin waking up to the true reality while it is still night. The best way to do that is by learning about Moshiach. In the words of the Rebbe (Balak 5751):

    “Even when one’s emotions are still “outside” the parameters of Redemption, G-d forbid – because he has not yet emerged from his internal exile, he can nevertheless learn the Torah’s teachings concerning Redemption, and thereby be elevated to the state of Redemption. One then begins to “thrive” on matters of Redemption, borne of the knowledge, awareness and feeling that “Hinei zeh ba.



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