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The Hoshano for Shabbos which starts אום נצורה contains the phrase
יושבת וממתנת עד כלות שבת Which I translate as “She (Khilas Yisroel) sits and waits for Shabbos to go out.”

I don’t find this very complimentary. We instituted asking in our family, “How long is Shabbos in till?” rather than “When is Shabbos out?”

Why did the paytan choose this formulation?

  • ...so Eliyahu HaNavi can come in with good news? – Monica Cellio Oct 7 '12 at 14:45
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I don't know that "Why did the paytan choose this formulation" can be answered. I don't think that the Paytan himself ever explained his choice of formulation( I haven't seen any evidence of such, and I'm under the impression Paytanim rarely did), and everything else is speculation.

As to a question of "Why would the Paytan choose this formulation", I found in a Yesmechu pamphlet for Sukot 5770(PDF, 2nd page, under "אמרת השבת") two reasonings:

  1. The Imrei Chaim of Visnitz, in Imrei Chaim, vol. 4, p 90, s.v. "א"י והי' כי תבוא", says that one should read it as יושבת וממתנת עד כלות - הנפש על - השבת( "She sits and waits until the extinguishing of the soul over the Shabbat"), so strong is the desire of Keneset Yisra'el for the Shabbat.
  2. R. Yoel of Satmar interpeted the Paytan's words as meaning that Am Yisra'el sits and waits until the time of Iqar Shabbat( the required time of the Shabbat) will pass, so they can show their devotion by adding meha-Chol el ha-Qodesh, which they always long to do.
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"She waits passively. All the while until the end of shabbos." (Meaning -- she doesn't do stuff on shabbos to prepare for non-shabbos.)

  • 1
    This was the sense of meaning I first heard, but I like the accepted answer very much, too. – Zachariah Oct 7 '12 at 15:45
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Because the Shamor part of Shabbos is passive. I always assumed it's a reference to מחשיכין על התחום (Mishna Shabat 23:3)

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Tosfot Pesachim 105a והנ"מ, based on a Midrash Tehillim, mentions that in their time they were very strict not to drink water after mincha on Shabbos, and as a gezeira, not to eat a meal during that time either. The Rosh (beginning siman 13) says that the minhag was not to learn then either, because Moshe died on Shabbos afternoon.

The mesivta gemara gives more details, and explains why we don't follow these practices anymore. (Although apparently there is still a limited version of this minhag Drinking Water During "Shalosh Seudos").

If the paytan did follow them, maybe this is what he was referring to. They could presumably take walks or have non-Torah conversations, but at least in some situations (raining, people who live alone, ...) there may not have been much for people to do other than sit and wait. So it's a praise of Klal Yisrael that they followed their minhag and just waited around.

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