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

(..) Joshua ben Perachiah says, ″Set up a teacher [RaB] for yourself. And get yourself a friend [HaBeR]. And give everybody the benefit of the doubt.″ [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 modern times, since the term rabbi has become commonplace and oft-used, the term rav has come to connote a rabbi with a much greater level of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding in Torah matters, above and beyond what has come to be known as a 'career rabbi' who, for example, conducts significant life events as his salaried job, rather than a person who studies and delves into Torah full-time for no reward or compensation.


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 The Land of Israel (whether Tannaim or Amoraim).[3][4]

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 Rav

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 the Hebrew acronym 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:

In a synagogue

When Orthodox Jews say "The Rav said..." within a synagogue, it is fairly likely that they're referring to the rabbi of the synagogue.[6][7]

Rav HaTzair

The title Rav HaTzair (or Rav HaTza'ir) refers to an assistant rabbi.[8][9] 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,[10] or Junior Rav.[11]

See also


  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. ^ PhilologosSeptember 19; 2003. "Rav, Rebbe, Rabbi". The Forward. Retrieved 2020-06-07.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ "Feinstein, Rav Moshe". Orthodox Union. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Fifty Years in the Pulpit: Seven Veteran Rabbis Tell It Like It Was". JewishAction.com. January 2008. listen to the rav's Shabbos HaGadol drasha
  7. ^ "From the Pulpit". ... to feel the rav is looking after them
  8. ^ "The Power of Many". the Rav Hatza'ir, .. son of the current Rav
  9. ^ "Edgware residents unite against free school bid" (PDF). April 25, 2013. Boruch Halberstam, Rav Hatzair of Kiryat Sanz ... last week.
  10. ^ "Harav Chaim Yeshayah Koenig, zt"l, Yokke Rav". hamodia.com. May 1, 2016. served as Rav hatza'ir under his father's supervision
  11. ^ "Contender ABD Bobov". ... his younger brother ... the Rav Hatzair (Junior Rav)

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