Rabbinic Titles

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    In a recent issue of a frum newspaper, I found the following plethora of titles used, sometimes referring to the same

    person by two or more in one article: Maran Harav Hagaon, Harav Hagaon, Maran Harav, Harav, Horav, Harab, Maran Rav, Rav,

    Rov, Rabbi, and Reb.

    My first question is about the title Hagaon. I am not, chas v’shalom, belittling the qualifications or accomplishments of

    the distinguished Rabbonim who were mentioned with that title. Nevertheless from a historical viewpoint the title of Gaon

    was given to very few people in our entire history. Originally, it was the title of the heads of the two academies in

    Babylonia, in Sura and Pompedisa. After that, it was virtually unused until the Vilna Gaon, who was called that because he

    was so far above his contemporaries. Now it seems like every elderly Rosh Yeshiva is called Hagaon. The overuse of an

    honorific title tends to cheapen it.

    My next question is about the honorific Maran. Who gets it and who does not? Who determines?

    Finally, why all the different titles? I assume Reb is for someone who does not have smicha, but for someone with smicha

    what is the difference between Harav, Rav,and Rabbi? (I am assuming the others are variations in pronunciation.) Once again, who determines?

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