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Rav (Hebrew רב) is the Hebrew generic term for a teacher or a personal spiritual guide. For example, Pirkei Avot (1:6) states that:

(..) Joshua ben Perachiah says, ″Set up a teacher [rav] for yourself. And get yourself a study partner. And give everybody the benefit of the doubt.″ Pirke Avot: Timeless Wisdom for Modern Life; William Berkson, 2010, p185.[1][2]

The term rav is also a Hebrew word for a rabbi. For a more nuanced discussion see semicha. The term is also frequently used by Orthodox Jews to refer to one's own rabbi.



In the Talmud, the title Rav generally precedes the names of Babylonian Amoraim, whereas the title Rabbi generally precedes the names of ordained scholars in Palestine (whether Tannaim or Amoraim).[3]

In the Talmud, Rav or Rab (used alone) is a common name for Abba Arika, the first Amora, who established the great yeshiva at Sura, which, using the Mishnah as text, led to the compilation of the Talmud.

In some Hasidic groups, the Rebbe is also referred to as a Rav; in other circles, the Rav is distinct from the Rebbe and is the highest Dayan (judge of a Jewish religious court of law) of the group.

The RavEdit

Nachmanides will sometimes refer to Maimonides as HaRav, "The Rav".

From the 16th century and onwards, Rav or the Rav generally referred to Rabbi Obadiah ben Abraham, a.k.a. haRav miBartenura (the Rav from Bartenura). Rabbi Obadiah miBartenura becomes an acronym in Hebrew for Rabbi `Obadiah of Bartenura (רע"ב).

More recently, as a sign of great respect, some rabbis are simply called the Rav even outside of their personal followings. Note that when the word is pronounced using a Patakh, the meaning is almost universally Rabbi Obadiah ben Abraham of Bartenura. When using a Kamatz, the term can refer to, among others:

See also the list of people called Rabbi.

In a synagogueEdit

When Orthodox Jews say "The Rav said..." within a synagogue, it is fairly like that they're referring to the rabbi of the synagogue.[5][6]

Rav HaTzairEdit

The title Rav HaTzair (or Rav HaTza'ir) refers to an assistant rabbi.[7][8] Tzair means young, in Hebrew, and the prefix "Ha" means "the"; the combination can be used to mean the younger of a pair: Rav HaTzair, in context, can refer to the younger of a pair of rabbis,[9] or Junior Rav.[10]


  1. ^ Berkson "1:6 Yehoshua ben Perahiah and Nittai of Arbel received from them. Yehoshua ben Perahiah said: Choose for yourself a mentor; acquire for yourself a friend; and judge every person in a favorable light."
  2. ^ The Talmud: what it is and what it says:Jacob Neusner
  3. ^ Adin Steinsaltz, The Talmud: The Steinsaltz Edition; A Reference Guide (New York: Random House, 1989), p. 139.
  4. ^ "Feinstein, Rav Moshe". Orthodox Union. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  5. ^ "Fifty Years in the Pulpit: Seven Veteran Rabbis Tell It Like It Was". January 2008. listen to the rav's Shabbos HaGadol drasha
  6. ^ "From the Pulpit". ... to feel the rav is looking after them
  7. ^ "The Power of Many". the Rav Hatza'ir, .. son of the current Rav
  8. ^ "Edgware residents unite against free school bid" (PDF). April 25, 2013. Boruch Halberstam, Rav Hatzair of Kiryat Sanz ... last week.
  9. ^ "Harav Chaim Yeshayah Koenig, zt"l, Yokke Rav". May 1, 2016. served as Rav hatza'ir under his father's supervision
  10. ^ "Contender ABD Bobov". ... his younger brother ... the Rav Hatzair (Junior Rav)

See alsoEdit