Are there any halachic implications from the Torah's choice of the terms Shabbat, Shabbatot and Shabbaton? And to what are they referring?

And what does the Torah mean when it calls the Shabbat a "Shabbat-Shabbaton" Vayikra 23:3 for example?

What does the term Shabbaton add to the term Shabbat in its meaning?

3 Answers 3


In connection with most verses in the Tenach Shabat seems to be a term, which is often linked with the seventh day (the day from sundown fridaynight till sundown saturday night; it was evening it was morning; the seventh day), from the roos Shavat which literally means to 'cease', to 'end' (with work) and from these derived 'rest'. It is the day of rest or ceasing with the result in having to stop or rest from work. The Shabat is the day on which HaShem (the seventh) ceased working and “rested.”

Shabatot is the plural form of Shabat.

Shabaton by its ending -on seems to be some kind of Qal pa'al form, while Shabat is a piel form. So one is intensive action while the other denotes a normal action. A rest/ceasing v.s. a complete and total rest/ceasing.

So Shabat Shabaton is a day of rest and ceasing with the meaning of an absolute rest and ceasing from work.

  • Radak explains that Shabat-on is like a tiny shabat, the time we add by ourselves to extend Shabat. source,upper left
    – Zeev
    May 1, 2016 at 11:56
  • The phrase Shabat Shabaton is like a superlative statement with the meaning: 'the most restful cessation (from work)'. Probably a reason why Onkelos translates it as Shabat, HaShabat.
    – Levi
    May 2, 2016 at 19:40

"Shabbatot" is the plural form of Shabbat ("-ot" is the plural feminine postfix, whereas "-im" is the masculine).

"Shabbaton" is the Hebrew word from which we get "Sabbatical". It is a period of time required to allow agricultural fields to be left fallow. It was adopted as the term for time allowing for humans to rest and rejuvenate.

The word comes from the root "SH.V.T", which I believe generally means sit or rest, with rest being the context-appropriate translation ("day of rest"), as per the commandment forbidding work on Saturday in honor of the seventh day of creation.

  • If Shabbaton is refering to the agricultural fields to be left fallow, it seems logical to call the Shalosh R'galim Shabatonim. But what about Yom Kippur and Shabat, which are both called: 'Shabbat Shabbaton'.. then the second meaning of Shabbaton would come in. Am I correct?
    – Levi
    Apr 30, 2016 at 19:28
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    Apr 30, 2016 at 21:30
  • I believe you're correct on the first part, @Levi. It seems "Shabbat Shabbaton" is an emphasized form of Shabbat. In the case of Yom Kippur, in that it takes precedence over Shabbat on the question of fasting (when it is otherwise forbidden to fast). The R'galim are a separate matter, being the three sacrificial pilgrimages (Passover, Shavuoth, Sukkoth) to the temple as described in Deut 16:16. Those are agricultural holidays, respectively taking place at the very start, the height, and the end of the harvest season. As such, I do not believe the term applies to them..
    – mkazin
    May 1, 2016 at 0:08
  • What I ment by 'the second meaning of Shabbaton' was that in the cases of the seventh day or Yom Kipput, which are the only ones being described as 'Shabbat Shabbaton', that the agricultural meaning would not applie to them, but the meaning of 'rest and rejuvenate' would most certainly applie to those days, as those days would be days of 'complete and total rest'; as on those days one would cease and rest from work.
    – Levi
    May 2, 2016 at 19:01

Shalom. According to Lv 23:2,3, though, it seems that there is no substantial difference between shabbat and miqra qodesh. Shabbat is miqra qodesh, and vice versa, both being shabbat shabbathon. Am I right?

  • You should give details. For example, Rav Hirsch. Apr 7, 2017 at 10:27

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