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1)Who do we know to refer to as a "Gadol?"

2)How do we determine who is a "Gadol?"

For example, how did we determine that Rav Elyashiv is a Gadol?

A Gadol HaDor is known as one of the most respected people in Judaism and who's words are taken very seriously.

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Just heard this Shiur last night, and it was great. Highly recommended. – Hacham Gabriel Jan 5 '12 at 2:04
Sadly, the last line in your question isn't true for many Orthodox Jews, because of the recent games played with "gadols" – avi Jan 5 '12 at 7:11
related question… – avi Jan 5 '12 at 7:16
this basically answers the question but I didn't write it so I won't post it as an answer: – Double AA Jan 5 '12 at 22:08

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Reb Moshe Feinstein's answer to this question can be found in the article referenced here in the New York Times from May 5, 1975.

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I would still love if someone could get me an access to this article or some way to get it online – simchastorah Jan 5 '12 at 1:28
You wrote "here" but no link...Or was the link the bottom link? – Hacham Gabriel Jan 5 '12 at 3:23
a summary please – avi Jan 5 '12 at 7:07
if you can get me trhe article I would be very happy to summarize – simchastorah Jan 5 '12 at 13:21

Sort of similar to R. Moshe's response, I heard from a noted Rosh Yeshiva that the optimal (and indeed traditional) authority structure, was a pyramid. On the bottom was each person's personal rabbi; usually the rabbi of the town. When those rabbis had questions they couldnt answer they forwarded them to someone they felt was better qualified. THis process continued untill the questions reached the rabbinic elite at the top of the pyramid. Nobody appointed them, rather rabbis seeking better qualified rabbis inevitably formed such a pyramid where questions reached those qualified to deal with them.

In such a system (he stressed) the individuals who first ask the questions have no need to investigate who lies at the top; each level interacts with the level above it. Accordingly we really dont need to worry about who the gedolim are. We just need a qualified rabbi who knowns us who we trust to forward difficulties to someone better qualified if need be.

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