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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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.
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:
"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:
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.")
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."
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)