Shomer Shabbat Meaning, Origin and Folklore

The Jewish Phrase Shomer Shabbat is originated from the verses of one of the 10 Commandments in Deuteronomy (5:14-15), which teaches the Hebrews to “observe” the Sabbath Day and purify it.

Shomer Shabbat or Shomrei Shabbos or Shomer Shabbos is written in Hebrew as שומר שבת‎, which means the Sabbath observer or the Saturday Sabbath Observer, who notices the mitzvoth orders related with Judaism’s Shabbat.

This begins on Friday at twilight and ends on Sunday after the evening.

What is the meaning of Shomer?

The Jewish Phrase Shomer (שומר) or Shomrim (שומרים) is originated from the Hebrew word Shamar (שמר) that means the Guardians of Jewish Tradition. It translates to common terms like to watch, guard, or reserve.

Meaning of Shomer
Meaning of Shomer

Shomer is widely used to express the observances and actions in the Jewish Law.

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Especially in the modern Hebrew culture where the phrase is used as a noun to describe the profession of the protector or the guard.

Below are the common examples of the term Shomer;

  1. The Shomer Kashrut is a Jewish Phrase for a person who keeps kosher and follows all the essential laws.
  2. All the laws and commandments of the Jewish Sabbath are observed by the Shomer Shabbat or the Shomer Shabbos.
  3. The Jewish Phrase Shomer negiah refers to a person who is vigilant of the rules that concern abstaining from bodily contact with the opposite sex.

Additionally, a Shomer in Jewish law (Halacha) is a person who is tasked with protecting somebody’s assets or belongings. The laws of the Shomer coin in Exodus 22:6-14:

(6) If a man gives his neighbor money or articles for safekeeping, and it is stolen from the man’s house, if the thief is found, he shall pay twofold.

(7) If the thief is not found, the homeowner shall approach the judges, [to swear] that he has not laid his hand upon his neighbour’s property.

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(8) For any sinful word, for a bull, for a donkey, for a lamb, for a garment, for any lost article, concerning which he will say that this is it, the plea[s] of both parties shall come to the judges, [and] whoever the judges declare guilty shall pay twofold to his neighbor.

(9) If a man gives his neighbour a donkey, a bull, a lamb, or any animal for safekeeping, and it dies, breaks a limb, or is captured, and no one sees [it].

(10) the oath of the Lord shall be between the two of them provided that he did not lay his hand upon his neighbor’s property, and its owner shall accept [it], and he shall not pay.

(11) But if it is stolen from him, he shall pay its owner.

(12) If it is torn apart, he shall bring witnesses for it; [for] the torn one he shall not pay.

(13) And if a person borrows [an animal] from his neighbour and it breaks a limb or dies, if its owner is not with him, he shall surely pay.

(14) If its owner is with him, he shall not pay; if it is a hired [animal], it has come for its hire.

Origin of Shomer Shabbat or Shomer Shabbos

The Jewish Phrase Shomer Shabbat or Shomer Shabbos originates from the Hebrew Bible only in Isaiah 56:2,6.

Origin of Shomer Shabbat or Shomer Shabbos
Origin of Shomer Shabbat or Shomer Shabbos

It occurs a few times in the Midrashic works and is not used in the Mishnah or Talmud literature.

The term has never been used in the Shulchan Aruch and rarely in response before the 20th century.

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But traces of it could be found in the Maimonides, from the medieval and early modern rabbinic literature.

The phrase has been used extensively in the past 100 years especially to name shuls such as a precursor to Machzike Hadath in London, a Gateshead synagogue (founded in 1897), and one in Boro Park.

A very well-known book published by Rabbi Yehoshua Neuwirth and Sefer Shomer Shabbat by David ben Aryeh Leib of Lida (ca. 1650-1696) offered a great amount of information to all the Shomer Shabbat readers across the globe.

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A Shomer Shabbat may be compared with somebody who violates the Shabbat (mekhallel Shabbat), a grade of stern deviancy when done in public.

Any individual who is a Shomer Shabbat as per the Jewish law (halakha), is anticipated to imitate to the bans against definite forms of melacha i.e. artistic acts.

Some of the activities that are probated by the Jews as per the Shomer Shabbat are;

  1. Cooking
  2. Spending Money
  3. Write
  4. Operate Electrical Equipment’s
  5. Carry out scientific actions

In addition to the above restrictions, several other rules and guidelines need to be followed as per the Shomer Shabbat Commandments like;

  • Shabbat Meals
  • Shabbat Prayers and Rituals
  • Kindness, compassion and rest
  • For married couples, sexual intercourse on Friday nights.

In modern established Judaism, the Shomer Shabbat individual would normally attempt to follow all the guidelines allied with the Sabbath.

Within the “liberal” factions of Judaism, the idiom may indicate a person who takes the compliance of the “core” mitzvoth.

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The Shabbat is a model cited in Jewish songs (e.g., Baruch El Elyon) and the proposed spectators for many discourses on Jewish law and practice for the Sabbath day (e.g., Shmirat Shabbat ke-Hilkhata).

In 2000, the television announced that the applicant for U.S. Vice President, Senator Joseph Lieberman, is Shomer Shabbat.

Shomer Categories and Reference to Pop Culture

Shomer Categories and Reference to Pop Culture
Shomer Categories and Reference to Pop Culture

As per the statesmen, there are 4 categories of Shabbat and the critical condition among all these is that the Shomer must be willing and should not be forced under any condition.

Shomer CategoryMeaningOrigin
Shomer hinamThe unpaid watchmanOriginating in Exodus 22:6-8
Shomer sacharThe paid watchmanOriginating in Exodus 22:9-12
SocherThe renterOriginating in Exodus 22:14
ShoelThe borrowerOriginating in Exodus 22:13-14
Shomer Categories and Reference to Pop Culture

As per the verses of Exodus 22 (Mishnah, Bava Metzia 93a), each of the Shomer categories have a different level of legal obligations & commandments to be followed critically.

Even in the 21st century all the rules and guidelines of the guardianship are valid and obligatory.

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The 1998 movie “The Big Lebowski,” is the most common reference of the pop culture towards the Shomer Shabbat. In the movie, the popular character of Walter Sobchak was played by John Goodman.

In the movie scene, he was completely annoyed with the bowling union for not recalling that he’s a Shomer Shabbos.

List of Dos and Don’ts in Shomer Shabbat 

Dos and Don’ts in Shomer Shabbat
Dos and Don’ts in Shabbat

Below is the comprehensive list of Does and Don’ts that you need to follow as a Shomer Shabbat.


  • Dress modestly preferable wear long skirts and sleeves.
  • Turn off your mobile phone.
  • Follow the lead of others during hand washing rite.
  • Use the staircase instead of elevators.
  • Keep your calm, be relaxed and enjoy the moment.


  • Avoid getting flowers to the host.
  • Avoid ringing the doorbell on your arrival.
  • Avoid physical contact such as handshaking etc.
  • After the handwashing avoid to speak until the motzi has been recited. 
  • Avoid turning of light off in any room.
  • Avoid using elevators.
  • Avoid booking cabs until Shabbat shalom rite is completed.

Video: Shomer Shabbos


Shomer Shabbat, its origin, meaning and folklore has been covered comprehensively in the article.

Also, the complete list of dos and don’ts during the Shomer Shabbat Ceremony has been covered so that you can follow the instructions quickly.

If you still have any doubts or confusions, do let us know about the same!

People Also Ask (FAQs)

What does Shomer Negiah mean?

A Shomer Negiah or the Observant of Negiah is the person who abides by the halakha. With different levels of obedience, the laws of negiah is followed by orthodox Jews.

What do you eat on Shabbat?

Shabbat traditionally includes three required meals: Friday night dinner, Saturday lunch, and the third meal in late afternoon. For non-Orthodox Jews, Friday night dinner is the most popular Shabbat meal.