Is It Worse to Sin on Shabbat than During the Week?

Is it worse to do an averiah on Shabbat than during the week? The Chofetz Chaim (in the Hakdama) famously claims that doing an aveirah in the Mikdash or shul is worse because it is shows a lack of mora mikdash. Not to mention that there are numerous sources that suggest that mitzvot and aveirot are more serious when done in Eretz Yisrael (or only count there). Would the same be true of one violated the sanctity of time by sinning? This question arises in a discussion in a Yerushalmi in Demai (4:1, I discussed it in a shiur: here). Normally, when one has Demai, produce received from a Am HaAretz who we are not sure gave Maasrot, one cannot eat from it without separating Maaser again, and you cannot believe the Am HaAretz if he claims he already gave it. However, on Shabbat, the Mishna rules that you can ask the Am HaAretz and he will be believed. The Gemara suggests two rationales for this – either Kavod Shabbat or Eimat Shabbat. Kavod Shabbat means that as we want people to have food to enjoy Shabbat, we have leniencies that make it easier to have food. Eimat Shabbat means that we assume the Am HaAretz is afraid to lie on Shabbat, so we will believe him. Rashi in Ketubot 55b offers the first explanation (he calls it Oneg Shabbat). Tosafot offer the second. The Yerushalmi itself assumes that you need both, and the only question is which reason is primary (see there for how it plays itself out). At any rate, the issue I was wondering about is whether Eimat Shabbat indicates that it is actually worse to do aveirot on Shabbat? The Rambam and others assume not – the notion that it is worse to sin on Shabbat is just a helpful misconception that unlearned people have that allows us to be assured they are telling the truth. Other Rishonim assume that even unlearned people wouldn’t assume that. Rather, as there is a unique connection between Maasrot and Shabbat, as once Shabbat has passed one can no longer snack (eat arai) from produce without being mafrish Terumot and Maasrot, they think it is worse to lie about Maaser on Shabbat.

Conceptually, however, it is fascinating to think about the possibility that sinning on Shabbat is actually worse. When I was looking, I had only found a passage in the Kabbalistic work, the Sefer HaSulam, that seemed to go in this direction, though his exact Kabbalistic explanation I don’t fully understand.

סימן קפה – ספר הסולם

חזל אמרו עם הארץ, אימת שבת עליו“. הנה תלמיד חכם הוא בחינת שבת, הנה שבת היא בחינת גמר התיקון. היינו, כמו שבגמר התיקון אז כבר יהיו הכלים מתוקנים, ומוכשרים לקבל ולהלביש את אור העליון, כמו כן שבת הוא בחינת גמר, היינו שאור העליון יכול להופיע ולהתלבש בתחתונים, אלא שהוא רק בבחינת אתערותא דלעילא.

I later found a teshuva by the Minchat Yitzchak in which he assumes this fundamental understanding. In the middle of a series of divrei Torah on the Parsha, the Minchat Yitzchak writes about the sin of Kayin. He cites a Midrash that has God accusing Kayin of being someone who does not put on Tefillin when he responds to his deceitful “Am I my brother’s keeper?” line. To explain this accusation, he suggests that not wearing Tefillin on Shabbat is a function of its special status (an Ot). By lying on Shabbat, Kayin was denying the special status of Shabbat. Thus, he became liable for not wearing Tefillin. It seems that this analysis assumes that sinning on Shabbat is in fact worse than sinning during the week – it is a rejection of the kedusha/ot of the day. [This of course assumes Kayin was not an Am HaAretz. I guess one could say there is nothing fundamental about this, but if Kayin thought it was worse to lie on Shabbat and lied anyways, that showed he was rejected the uniqueness of Shabbat. However, this does not seem to be what the Minchat Yitzchak is suggesting.]

שות מנחת יצחק חלק ד קונטרס דברי חפץ

ויאמר דאל קין אי הבל אחיך ויאמר לא ידעתי השומר אחי אנכי.

בספר נחיע הביא מדרש (עיבספר תכלת מרדכי בראשית נד), בשעה שאמר קין השומר אחי אנכי, אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא, קרקפתא דלא מנח תפילין אתה עכ, וצריך פירוש

והנה במדרש שם משמע, דתיכף לאותו מעשה דקין והבל, ויאמר דלקין אי הבל אחיך, וכדאיתא, משל לאיפרכוס שהימהלך באמצע פלטי‘, מצאו הרוג, ואחד עומד על גביו וכועיין שם, – ובזה שהשיב קין השומר אחי אנכי, חוץ ממה שהיגונב דעת עליון חו, עוד אפילו עם הארץ, ירא מלשקר, משום אימת שבת, כדאיתא (בפד דמאי), בשבת אוכלו על פיו, ומפרש בירושלמי שם, משום דאימת שבת עליו, וירא מלשקר ואומר האמת עיין שם, – וטעם שאין מניחים תפילין בשבת, איתא (בעירובין דצו ושנ), רע אומר ושמרת את החוקה וכו‘, יצאו שבתות וימים טובים, שהן עצמן אות עיין שם, – עכ אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא, כיון דאי אתה מתירא מלשקר, מפני אימת שבת, הרי קדושת שבת, אינו שורה עליך, אפילו כמו על עם הארץ, ואינו לאות אצליך, – וניתוסף עליך עוד, קרקפתא דלא מנח תפילין, והבן.

However, R. Elyakim Krumbein pointed out that, while they may not use the phrase Eimat Shabbat, there are several mainstream sources that may point in this more fundamental direction. Specifically, many of the Achronim argue that even if eat pat paltar, bread bakes commercially by non-Jews, and does not limit himself to pat yisrael, on Shabbat he should try to only eat pat yisrael. This position is found in the Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim 242:5), Peri Megadim (ibid Eshel Avraham 4), Mishna Berurah (ibid 6), Chayei Adam (Shabbat 1:4), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (72:6), and Yalkut Yosef (Orach Chaim 242:1). The Peri Megadim even suggests that this is related to the obligation to eat betaharah on Yom Tov. While we don’t actually need to be ritually pure for Shabbat, we try to raise the level of the food we eat. The Eliyah Rabbah (242:10) challenges this entire idea, but there are still many Achronim who accept it.

This may point in the direction that doing mitzvot, aveirot, chumrot, etc on Shabbat are fundamentally different. However, this may only be a form of hiddur – just like people wear nice clothes, they eat “frummer foods.” So is this actually proof that Shabbat metaphysically changes mitzvot and aveirot – I don’t know.

Another possible avenue to explore this is a strange argument made be several Achronim (mainly R. Shlomo Kluger) that if one is not sure if he said Yaaleh V’Yavo or the like on Shabbat, he can assume he did because of Eimat Shabbat. I don’t know whether this is meant as a psychological statement that people are serious on Shabbat, or that Eimat Shabbat actually prevents people from sinning or making mistakes, which is even more extreme than anything we’ve seen above. It seems that R. Shlomo Kluger meant the former. R. Ovadiah (Yabia Omer Orach Chaim 7:28:5) lists many other Achronim who agree with R. Shlomo Kluger. From his citations, it seems that they are all making the psychological argument. However, one could argue that Eimat Shabbat only makes sense if we’re talking about conscious sins – as is noted by the Shevet HaLevi (4:18).

At any rate, if anyone has suggestions or sources, please let me know.

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