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    More on the shammes – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Following on your recent explanation of the term shammes, I heard that it is the initials of three Hebrew words. What are these?

    A. The only such notion I have heard is that it is the initials of the Yiddish words, Shah! Macht Shtill! (“Shoosh! Keep Quiet”), reflecting the fact that in some places the shammes is charged with stopping congregants from talking during services.

    But the shammes was a recognised communal official long before Yiddish was invented and the name comes from a Hebrew verb as was explained in my previous answer on the subject.

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