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My father, passing someone on the street on שבת, says "גוט שבת, גוט שבת" (Yiddish, "good sabbath, good sabbath"): that is, he repeats himself. I thought it might be his own idio-custom — until I came across someone else who does the same. Neither could really explain to me why he does it, though the one not my father told me "that's the minhag [=custom]!". Does anyone know where this repetition comes from or why people do it?

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"Thank you, thank you very much" - Elvis Presley – jake Mar 25 '13 at 16:36
Once each for shamor and zachor, undoubtedly. – HodofHod Mar 25 '13 at 16:40
Perhaps once for the Neshama Yesaira – Gershon Gold Mar 25 '13 at 16:57
Well, saying it once, you don't really mean it, do you? So you say it again as in: "no, really, do have a good sabbath!" – yair Mar 26 '13 at 23:02
frumsatire has a funny video about this where he mentions this and also mentions what people say "mazal tov mazal tov" (two times) at weddings so as to get out of awkward situations and not talk to people you don't want to talk to, kind of like a conversation ender, just say the phrase twice and walk away – Efraim Feb 3 '14 at 7:25

4 Answers 4

I thought it was greeting like Sholom. You say Sholom when you meet someone, and you say Sholom when you depart from someone. Therefore, you say Gut Shabboth twice as in nice to see you and have a good day.

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I'm trying to imagine someone speaking Yiddish but pronouncing 'ת' as 'th' – Daniel Apr 10 '13 at 18:25

The custom to respond to a greeting/wish-for-peace by giving some additional blessing - and expressing that additional blessing by 'doubling' the received wish - seems to go back at least to the times of the gemara: see Gitin 62a, where it talks about greeting gentiles working the land during shmita, and refers to "doubling" the "Shalom."

(Apparently the Maharsha there says that "Derech Eretz obligates one who receives 'Shalom' to return it and double it," but I haven't seen that Maharsha inside; that's a quote from Kollel Iyun Hadaf's summary.)

The idea is stated in expanded form by Daas Zekeinim on Devarim 20:10:

וגם המקדים שלום לחבירו צריך לכפול לו לשלום ולו' לו שלום עליך וברכה טובה וסמך ללשון זה מדכתיב כי תקדימנו ברכות טוב כלו' כי תקדמנו בשלום צריך להחזיר לו ברכת טוב פי' ברכה טובה ולכך אמר ר' יוחנן מימי לא הקדימני אדם לשלום ואפי' עכו"ם בשוק שאין דרך מהר כ"כ ולקדם לו שלום הקדמתי לו לפי שאם יקדים לי הייתי צריך לכפול לו שלום)

"That if he greets me first, I would need to double Shalom to him."

The Alshich on Rut 2:4 says that this "adding on" to a received greeting is also what's happening when Boaz speaks to his workers:

כי למה שהיה לו אמרו לו יברכך ה וגם כוונתו לבלתי הוסיף על הדבר אשר דבר הוא שתי תיבות בלבד כמוהו ע"כ בראותו שהיו מקפידים לבלתי מתבטל ע"כ עזב את הקוצרים ושאל לנערו הנצב עליהם כי הטל הוא להשיב לו על כל דבריו ואמר למי הנערה הזאת כאשר יתבאר בס"ד. עוד יתכן למדונו שצריך המשיב שלום להוסיף על השואל בשלמו

This only addresses responding with a doubled "גוט שבת," not initiating greetings this way; however, I think I do actually see this more often as a response than a first greeting.

(Based on an article on the halachot of sheilat Shalom by Rabbi Y. Freilich, which cites the book Shalom Rav (Hebrew; don't know the author's name) Section 6:39 when describing this specific practice of saying "Gut Shabbos, Gut Shabbos.")

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I say this, for the same reason that I instinctively reply "fine, and you?" before knowing what I'm saying, if someone asks how I am, despite coughing up blood or something.

I would be surprised if there was an answer other than "because that's what I've always done."

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Apparently my question was unclear. I've edited it to clarify that I was asking about the repetition. Is that what you meant in your answer? Anyway, welcome to the site and thanks for this (attempted?) answer. – msh210 Mar 25 '13 at 16:27
@msh210 Yes, I say it twice, because that's what I've always done. – 930913 Mar 27 '13 at 22:32

I remember hearing that the reason may be the Chazal that tells us that two angels accompany every Yid from shul on friday night and the double "gut shabbos" is meant to address both of these malachim (do not have a definite source)

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What about the rest of Shabbat? Also isn't 2 angels plus 1 person = 3 gut shabboses? – Double AA Jun 8 at 19:06

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