Gaon (gā'ōn) (Hebrew: גאון, lit. 'genius', plural גְּאוֹנִים geonim — gĕ'ōnīm) may have originated as a shortened version of "Rosh Yeshivat Ge'on Ya'akov", although there are alternative explanations. In Ancient Hebrew, it referred to arrogance and haughty pride (Amos 6:8 – "I abhor the pride of Jacob and detest his fortresses; I will deliver up the city and everything in it.") and later became known as a general term for pride, both the positive and negative forms ('Pride [of]'; Late Medieval and Modern Hebrew for 'genius'). Today, it may refer to:
One of the Geonim during the period 589–1040. Prominent Geonim include:
- Yehudai Gaon (Gaon 757–761)
- Sar Shalom Ben Boaz (Gaon 838–848)
- Natronai ben Hilai, Gaon of Sura (Gaon to 857)
- Amram Gaon, Gaon of Sura (Gaon 857–875)
- Saadia Gaon (882/892 – 942)
- Zemah ben Hayyim (Gaon 889–895)
- Sherira Gaon (906–1006)
- Samuel ben Hofni (died 1034)
- Hai Gaon (939–1038)
An honorific title given to a few leading rabbis of other countries in the same period, such as:
Specific rabbis of later periods, called "gaon":
Many great rabbis, although not formally referred to as the "Gaon of ..." are often lauded with this honorific as both a mark of respect and a means to indicate their greatness in the field of Torah learning, for example, one may refer to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef as "HaGaon Rabbi Ovadia Yosef".
- Jehoshua Brand , Simha Assaf and David Derovan (2007). "Gaon". In Berenbaum, Michael; Skolnik, Fred (eds.). Encyclopaedia Judaica. Vol. 7 (2nd ed.). Detroit: Macmillan Reference. p. 380. ISBN 978-0-02-866097-4.
- Jewish Virtual Library — Gaon
- "ידיד נפשי המנוח הדגול, שייף עייל שייף נפיק, הגאון הגדול רבי יוסף קאפח זצ"ל." — Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in the Hebrew responsa book שו"ת הריב"ד קאפח, quoted in עלון אור ההליכות גליון חודש תמוז התשס"ט (page 3).