Monday, May 31, 2010

Saying "Good Shabbos"

Why is it that in most communities I have been to, people walk right by you without wishing you a “Good Shabbos” or “Shabbat Shalom”? I grew up in an “in-town” community, which was considered small for “in town,” i.e. we had way less than 10 shuls and 5 pizza stores, and even if you didn’t say hello to every other frum person you saw on the street, at least on shabbos if you passed someone frum, you would say “Good Shabbos,” even if you didn’t know their name.

I do think this is more of an “out-of-town” thing, as people who live in smaller communities tend to know all or most of the other frum people living there, so they are friendly enough with everyone to say “Good Shabbos” and then have a longer conversation than that. “In-towners,” on the other hand, tend to have the attitude of, “If I don’t know you, why should I say hi to you? There are a million frum people around, and if I say hi to you, then I have to say hi to everyone else.” I think this is ridiculous, and that even if you have to say “Good Shabbos” to every person you pass by, every 2 seconds, it is Kavod HaBriyot to say “Good Shabbos” to every person you meet.

This applies even if it is a woman and a man who are passing each other on the street. If a man doesn’t want to look at me, even though I’m dressed Tznius, I understand and respect where he is coming from. Look down when I pass you, but at least say “Good Shabbos.”

At this point I am not offended if I say “Good shabbos” with a smile and receive no response, but when I see newly religious Baalei Teshuva or someone who is becoming a Baal Teshuva, greet the person passing by with a hearty “Good Shabbos” and see their face fall as they don’t receive a reply, I wonder how many times a person can be ignored before they are turned off to Torah Judaism. Perhaps you have your own reasons for not initiating the greeting, but to ignore someone is an active lack of respect. And it bothers me even more when the ignorer is someone who is machmir in other aspects of Halacha. If you truly love Hashem and have devoted your life to Him, then how can you not devote yourself to His people, as we are commanded so many times in the Torah? Bein Adam L’Chavero is just as important as Bein Adam L’Makom, that’s why it takes up half of the 10 commandments.


  1. To defend the tri state area (if that's what you mean by "in town," the only place "Gut Shabbos" is a rarity is in some areas in Brooklyn. Everywhere else, except for some awkward dudes, seem to have a system in place.

  2. Yes, I meant the tri state area. And I, like you, thought there was a system in place. But after a bunch of recent visits to different communities, I find that it's not so common anymore. Pleny of people I passed did not say good shabbos and did not even respond to me when I said good shabbos to them.

  3. Hmmmm. Interesting. Insecurity has people in such a tight grip that they can't even get themselves to greet another on Shabbos. So we'll just have to be the goodwill ambassadors. We'll keep going at it until they'll feel stupid by not responding.

  4. i think shabbat shalom is the only real greeting


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