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In Kol Mekadesh that is sung Friday night it says המאחרים לצאת מן השבת וממהרים לבא which seems out of order. Do we not first rush into Shabbos and then delay its departure? Then why do we sing it in the opposite order?

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Also note that the song is in the reverse of the order in the gemara (Shabbos 118b): וא"ר יוסי יהא חלקי ממכניסי שבת בטבריא וממוציאי שבת בצפורי. – Fred Jun 10 '14 at 19:59
up vote 10 down vote accepted

I once heard an answer as follows: The Torah was given on Shabbos, so the first extension of Shabbos was the מאחרים לצאת they did that evening. It was only the following week that they fulfilled ממהרים לבא.

A similar answer is that at the time the song is being sung, it is already Shabbos, so the next event that will occur is מאחרים לצאת, not ממהרים לבא.

Another approach is that one may have ulterior motives for beginning Shabbos early (e.g., he is tired, hungry, had a long week, etc.). But to extend the ending of Shabbos truly shows one's respect of the day. Thus, we first say מאחרים לצאת to prove that yidden truly value Shabbos, and then the ממהרים לבא is understood to be for Shabbos' sake, rather than for one's own benefit.

[However, let me also point out the obvious: לבא rhymes with אוהבו and the other words at the end of those stanzas; לצאת would mess up the poetry. Just saying!]

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I'll go along with Dave's answer and just make an additional comment (rather than a full answer). Whenever I sing the song, I personally get the feeling reflected in Dave's second and third explanations. I feel like I am so glad Shabbath is finally here that I don't want it to end, and since I know it will eventually end I can't wait for next Shabbath already, even though it only just started perhaps an hour ago. – Seth J Jul 8 '11 at 16:19
Plus there's the whole rhyme thing. But I think the feelings it evokes enhance the poetry as much as, if not even more than, the rhyme itself does. – Seth J Jul 8 '11 at 16:20

I once heard an answer that throughout the years in the desert, the Jews always knew exactly when Shabbos started and ended becuase they had the pillars of cloud and of fire. However, these were taken away when Moshe died, which was on Shabbos. That night, they did not know exactly when Shabbos ended, so they delayed ending it until they were sure. The next week, they started early for the same reason.

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Beit Aharon: When Bnei Yisrael got the Shabat at Marah, they didn't know its taste. Then when they first tasted it, it was so good that they didn't want to leave it. Then, they waited all week for the next Shabat and they hurried up to get into it.

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The week begins when Shabbos ends. It would seem to me that this is just giving the chronological order of events.

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