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Kol Mekadesh Shevi'i is one of the zemirot traditionally sung in the ashkenazic tradition at the Friday night meal.

It contains the following perplexing lyric:

כל שומר שבת כדת מחללו

Whoever observes shabbat according to the rules, desecrates it.

What on earth does this paradox mean? How can observing shabbat in the correct manner mean that one is desecrating it?


This question is Purim Torah and is not intended to be taken completely seriously. See the Purim Torah policy.

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    I think the key has to be כדת, then. – Dr. Shmuel Feb 25 at 14:26
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    I've often wondered this too. – Harel13 Feb 25 at 15:08
  • I thought it means that if one acted as a guard on Shabbos he was breaking Shabbos. – rosends Feb 25 at 16:06
  • Not only ashkenazic traditions – Dr. Shmuel Feb 27 at 1:06
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I think you may have incorrectly parsed the sentence, because you did not look at the preceding clause. It should be read as follows:

כל מקדש שביעי כראוי

Whoever sanctifies the Sabbath properly

לו כל שומר שבת כדת מחללו

To him, anyone who keeps the Sabbath according to the law desecrates it

Read this way the supposed paradox falls away. It's not making an objective claim that someone who keeps the Sabbath in fact desecrates it. The claim is, rather, that from the perspective of one who sanctifies the Sabbath properly, one who merely observes the law is as if he desecrated the Sabbath.

Now what are these two categories? These are explained in other Talmudic passages. In Megillah 12a we find:

מאי כדת אמר רבי חנן משם רבי מאיר כדת של תורה

What is "according to the law"? R. Chanan in the name of R. Meir said "according to the law of the Torah".

In Ketubot 3a we find:

כל דמקדש אדעתא דרבנן מקדש

Whoever sanctifies according to the Rabbis, sanctifies.

Thus we see from these two passages that שומר שבת כדת means that he fulfills the Torah laws of the Sabbath, while מקדש שביעי כראוי means that he also fulfills the rabbinic laws of the Sabbath. From the perspective of fulfilling rabbinic laws, one who only fulfills the Torah laws is indeed desecrating the Sabbath.

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    Seems logicall. – Dr. Shmuel Feb 26 at 3:58
  • +1. Well done. Extra kudos for including a reference to Megillah in your answer. – Joel K Feb 26 at 6:55
  • I would add that כדת can be an acronym for כדעת תורה or כדברי תורה. – Harel13 Feb 26 at 7:27
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    I'm not actually sure this is Purim Torah. I mean that as a complement – Daniel Kagan Feb 26 at 22:16
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You are mistranslating one key word. The proper translation should be:

Whoever observes shabbat like Dot, desecrates it.

Dot is the name of a popular cartoon character from the days of Chazal. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Dot

Evidently, the author of this song did not think Dot was Shomer Shabbos.

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The last word in the phrase, מחללו - desecrates it is a reference to the word דת, not the word שבת. So the meaning of the full phrase is:

Whomever observes Shabbat like a religious person, desecrates him.

Today's religious Jewish world is highly competitive, as you know. Every person is trying to "outfrum" his neighbor. My kashrut is better than yours. My shul or yeshiva is more religious than yours. It's all a false attempt at doing and saying things that make them appear better and more religious than you and fluff their ego while mitigating your own fine observance.

Same idea happens with Shabbat. If you observe Shabbat like a (more) religious person, by being more religious than your neighbor, you are desecrating your neighbor's ego and personality. This is a serious sin as it hurts your neighbor's feelings, and is, possibly a form of revenge. It may also be a form of "stumbling block before the blind", as you make others view you as more religious than you actually are. It's also being self-dishonest.

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The poetry of this song refers to when one is a שומר חנם.

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    But a שומר שכר has the problem of שכר שבת – b a Feb 25 at 18:02
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It refers to a Goy, who is prohibited from keeping Shabbos. If a Goy transgresses one small halacha, he has not 'kept shabbos' and therefore has not transgressed his prohibition.

Ergo, he who 'observes Shabbos according to its laws', desecrates it.

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