Rashbam, on Bereishit (Genesis) 1:5, states:

ויהי ערב ויהי בקר - אין כתיב כאן ויהי לילה ויהי יום, אלא ויהי ערב, שהעריב יום ראשון ושיקע האור, ויהי בוקר, בוקרו של לילה, שעלה עמוד השחר, הרי הושלם יום א' מן השישה ימים שאמר הקב"ה בעשרת הדברות, ואח"כ התחיל יום שני, ויאמר אלהים יהי רקיע. ולא בא הכתוב לומר שהערב והבקר יום אחד הם, כי לא הוצרכנו לפרש אלא היאך היו ששה ימים, שהבקיר יום ונגמרה הלילה, הרי נגמר יום אחד והתחיל יום שני.

“And it was evening, and it was morning” – It is not written here, “And it was night, and it was day”, but rather, “and it was evening, and it was morning” – the first day became evening and the sun set, and it became morning, the morning following the night, for the dawn broke” – behold, one day was completed from the six that Hashem spoke of in the Ten Commandments, and afterwards began the second day: “G-d said, ‘let there be a firmament’”. The text does not come to state that the evening and the morning are part of a single day, for it only needs to explain how there were six days – that the morning broke and the night was finished: behold, one days was completed and another day began.

The Rashbam believed that the day begins in the morning, not the night (Understandably, this lead to controversy). He even states that this is the intention of the Aseret HaDibrot with regard to Shabbat-- that Shabbat should begin on Saturday morning.

Is there any documentation that the Rashbam actually kept Shabbat in this manner? Is there any documentation of the opposite?

And furthermore, would ruling in this manner constitute Zaken Mamrei (a rebellious elder)?

  • 9
    Not about Shabbat in particular, but see Rashbam's comments on שמות 21:2 for his general philosophy regarding whether he rules according to his raw-pshat interpretations. ("Not," basically. "ידעו ויבינו יודעי שכל כי לא באתי לפרש הלכות, אע"פ שהם עיקר... ואני לפרש פשוטן של מקראות באתי. ואפרש הדינים וההלכות לפי דרך ארץ. ואעפ"כ ההלכות עיקר, כמו שאמרו רבותנו: 'הלכה עוקרת משנה'".)
    – Rish
    May 30, 2016 at 21:07
  • The Ibn Ezra, is his אגרת השבת, clearly was concerned that people would act L'maaseh like this (he.wikisource.org/wiki/…, sorry, but no english).
    – user9907
    May 30, 2016 at 21:25
  • Sure, but he never actually mentions Rashbam, and it's also theorized that he's attacking Karaites who acted this way. Whether or not there was a risk of other people acting on this understanding, I see no indication that Rashbam himself did so, particularly when he's so emphatic about not making halachic rulings from his pshuto-shel-mikra interpretations of the text.
    – Rish
    May 30, 2016 at 21:31
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    Incidentally, I'm not sure "Shabbat should begin on Saturday morning" is the correct read of Rashbam even within this context. "אחד מן הו' ימים שאמר הקב"ה בעשרת הדברות" probably doesn't mean the ששת ימים תעבד ועשית כל מלאכתך ויום השביעי שבת; we're talking about a day of Creation here in בראשית, and so he's presumably talking about the six days of כי ששת ימים עשה ה' את השמים ואת הארץ. The historical reason, not the commandment regarding our own keeping of Shabbat. (He may think that this reason would include sharing start-and-end times, but he didn't actually state that.)
    – Rish
    May 31, 2016 at 0:12
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    What do you know about Zaken Mamre that you ask about it here? I don't really understand your question about it. Perhaps you want to ask it separately?
    – Double AA
    May 31, 2016 at 1:59

1 Answer 1


With all due respect, I think you've misunderstood Rashbam's commentary on this verse. He is not delineating when a day starts or ends, but indicating how six days passed. He maintains (1:4) that the first day of creation started in the morning; if so, how do we have six days of creation?[1] He answers that even though we don't have six exact calendar days, we have six twenty-four-hour periods, from daybreak to daybreak.

[1] This question only arises with the supposition that a calendar day begins at nightfall — or some time other than daybreak — so that's likely what Rashbam held.

  • I don't think I'm on the level of a WADR :)
    – user9907
    Jun 1, 2016 at 11:08
  • alhatorah.org/…
    – Double AA
    Oct 16, 2016 at 3:39

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