Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The dummies guide to Charedi rabbinic titles

Yated Neeman (Hebrew) made history yesterday when it called R' Aharon Leib Steinman מרן. The title מרן until now had been reserved only for R' Elyashiv and crowns R' Steinman as his successor.

This led me to realize that many of the casual readers of Yated Neeman and this blog don't know the subtle differences in titles used and what they mean. Therefore I offer an an explanation of the Rabbinic titles that the Charedi press (mostly Yated) uses:

1. הרב - This is used for every Charedi public figure. All of the Charedi MKs are called Harav, for example, Harav Eli Yishai.
2. הרה"ג - הרב הגאון - Since everyone is called Harav someone who is a Rabbi  of a community, shul, etc. or a Rosh Yeshiva, Ram, etc. can't also just be Harav. Therefore they have now become הרב הגאון and when they are introduced the speaker generally just says Hagaon.
3. הגאון - This is applied to certain important Rabbinic figures as they are more important then the average rabbinic figure who is הרב הגאון
4. הגאון הגדול - Since every shul rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva is already הרב הגאון, we need a new title for the Gedolim. We can't have someone like R' Chaim Kanivsky referred to by the same title as your local community Rabbi. Therefore they came up with הגאון הגדול, the great Gaon, for Rabbanim like R' Chaim Kanievsky, R' Shmuel Auerbach etc.
5. מרן - This title is reserved for the person who is considered to be the Gadol Hador. First it was R' Shach, then R' Elyashiv and for the first time yesterday R' Steinman.

(Edited July 5th)


bohr salino said...

Not exactly.
Rav Elyashiv is called רבנו מרן and Rav Schach is called רבנו הגדול מרן

garnelironheart said...

This is the exact opposite of how the Tannaim did it. "Rav" was a lower title, "Rabbi" a higher one, "Rabban" even higher and no title was the highest honour. You didn't need to call Hillel and Shammai "Rabbi" because it was so obvious.

Anon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anon said...

Garnel, you didn't need to call Hillel and Shammai because the title didn't exist yet, not because it's obvious. And they called the Nasi Rabban, which was yet a higher level than Rabbi.

Yes, the titles are over the top, and yes, analyzing the Yated like Pravda is amusing - especially since it is true that they apparently have policies about how they use the titles. But title inflation is not a Chareidi invention. It is what Rabbinic Judaism has been doing for centuries, as can plainly be seen by reading seforim.

dlz said...

Actually, HaGaon is a separate title than HaRav HaGaon - HaGaon is higher up.