There is a mitzvah deoraita (Biblical commandment) to bury a person executed by bet din (Jewish court of law). Similarly, there is the law that a righteous person should not be buried next to a wicked one, derived (Sanhedrin 47a) from the story of Elisha Hanavi in Sefer Melachim (II 13:21).

The Gemara in Yevamot 32a discusses the definition of tzadik (righteous person) and rasha (wicked person) with regard to these laws and concludes that those who committed multiple severe offences (e.g. Eishet Ach and Achot Ishah) which give them the status of rasha gamur (completely wicked person) should be buried in the grave-yard where they bury those who died at the hand of Beis Din by serefa and skila (such as one who was mechalel shabat) and not in the graveyard of "not-so-wicked" (Rashi) people who committed capital offences warranting chenek or hereg (such as murder).

Why is mechalel shabbat considered such a thoroughly wicked act? It would make more sense that other deeds such as murder are more wicked.

(I realize that symbolically, chilul shabbat is compared to things like idolatry, but so is getting angry. It's hard to hear that one who picks the chicken bone from the meat on Shabbos (violating borer, sorting) should be considered more wicked than a murderer.)

  • DailyHalacha.com says that the Gemara in Eruvin (69) records one view that likens Shabbat desecration to Avoda Zara (idolatry). Meaning, violating Shabbat is tantamount to the complete abandonment of the religion. But chilul shabbos is not one of the cases for which one must give up his life (יהרג ואל יעבור, or "be killed but do not transgress"). It seems therefore that יהרג ואל יעבור does not define severity of the sin. Nov 22, 2014 at 22:43
  • @AvrohomYitzchok ...or that punishments don't define severity of sins. That sounds more reasonable to me.
    – Double AA
    Nov 23, 2014 at 0:47
  • @DoubleAA I agree. Nov 23, 2014 at 10:23
  • @AvrohomYitzchok In fact, in ד' מיתות (Sanhedrin) the Gemara starts with what is a more "serious" infraction and works from there to figuring out which punishment is more "serious," not vice versa. Nov 24, 2014 at 20:29

1 Answer 1


I understand that for someone to R"L lose his status as a Jew (from shulchan aruch harav/ yora daiya/ kuntres aharon/ 2.10 it seems that he is legally considered a non-Jew for everything except for marriage) he has to be michalel shabos (violate Shabbos) publicly.

I understand that someone R"L for personal pleasure (not just to do something against G-D R"L [להכעיס Infuriatingly simla chadosho 2.13]) gets angry, or even (R"L to go against a commandment i.e.) kills, or commits incest, adultery is still considered to be a Jew for all halachos (i am not sure about anger (maybe not considered going against a commandment) but for the rest, it is just that legally we cant trust him that he toiled for a mitzva, because of the precedent that for pleasure he is ready to go against a commandment of the Creator).

But no so with one who is R"L michalel shabos publicly.

The Simla Chadash 2.16 brings the reason for why chillul Shabbat publicly is considered so wicked, because by doing that he is denying the whole Torah since he is denying the main principle in Judaism (shabos) that the world was made by G-D in 6 days...

וטעם שהחמירה תורה במצות שבת יותר מכל מצות שבתורה שכשם שהמודה בעבודה זרה ככופר בכל התורה כך המחלל שבת עוקר יסודי הדת שניתן להורות חידוש העולם כמ״ש כי ששת ימים וגו׳ והמחללו כופר בעיקר

( free translation )

And the reason that we are stricter with the violation of Shabbos than with all other sins, is because just like someone who acknowledges to עבודה זרה (idol worship) is a כופר בכל התורה (someone who denies the entire Torah), so too is the person who violates Shabbos, he uproots the basic tenets of our faith, since it (Shabbos) was given to show that the world had a beginning as the verse says "for G-d created the world in six days..." and someone who violates Shabbos denies this basic tenet of our faith.

ps from simla chadosho 2.13 if someone R"L Infuriatingly (to anger the creator) does something that is forbidden or R"L does not do something that he must (i.e. he has a lulav and esrog and he Infuriatingly not lift them) he is R"L as a non-Jew.

  • +1 ....you're also a Simlah Chadshah guy!?
    – MTL
    Nov 23, 2014 at 4:17
  • @Shokhet thank you, where were YOU, have a good week!!!
    – hazoriz
    Nov 23, 2014 at 4:25
  • 1
    Fair point, I should have answered....I was spending more time editing this one ;-)
    – MTL
    Nov 23, 2014 at 4:27
  • 1
    Also, your sourcing was off -- 2.16 ;-)
    – MTL
    Nov 23, 2014 at 4:27
  • @Shokhet i changed the translation a little bit
    – hazoriz
    Nov 23, 2014 at 4:42

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