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What will mark the end of the period of Acharonim? What in general demarcates rabbinical eras? Are these halachic rules or conventions?

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They say we are in Aharonei Aharonim by now. – Hacham Gabriel Oct 13 '13 at 1:09
I heard that the chofetz chaim was the last acharon. I also heard that the end of the hollocaust marked the end of a major era in jewish history, spiritually and physically. But on the other hand, I've seen it also to be assumed that it is still the period of the acharonim, but i'd like to know the exact truth, and if not now, what IS it now? – user3380 Oct 16 '13 at 2:05
I think that this issue really just highlights the absurdity of periodisation. Acharonim only called themselves acharonim by virtue of their tendency to label scholars who lived before the Shulchan Arukh as Rishonim (although note that some "acharonim", like the Maharshal, rejected the label). Rishonim never called themselves Rishonim and were it not for the haskalah and the invention of Orthodoxy we wouldn't need to cling so fastidiously to the construct now. It's an invention, and one that we should't take so seriously. It has no halakhic merit. – Shimon bM Oct 16 '13 at 3:23
@shimon I've been wondering whether Rav Ovadia wasn't the last of the acharonim. Only time will tell. – Chanoch Oct 16 '13 at 21:43

I have once been told the answer to this is (although I have no proof) that the last one is the greatest of all. Samuel the last of the judges was greater than all of them. Rebbi the last 'tano' was greater than all of them. Rav Ashi the last amoro was greater than all of them. Rav Hai Gaon the last gaon was greater than all of them The Rosh the last rishon was greater than all of them. I would say the Chazon Ish the last achron was greater than all of them

So that tells when the end of the era is. If someone is greater than all the previous ones.

If not all the previous ones like Samuel at least the ones previous to them within 100 years or so. That would answer all the comments. Since someone so great comes along who doesnt really belong to that generation him being the only one that proves that this is the end of that era.

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Adding in whom you heard his from may enable others to better evaluate its veracity. Also why you think the Chazon Ish was greater than, for example, the G'ra or Rav Yosef Karo. – msh210 Oct 13 '13 at 16:06
What about Hezekiah Gaon? Why do you think the Rosh was greater than the Rambam or the Rif? – Double AA Oct 13 '13 at 16:27
@msh210 and also (@ ger), I heard similarly, just that it's not someone who is greater than anyone in the generation, just anyone who is significantly bigger than anyone around then. So for example, the Mishna Brura doesn't read like a 20th century work. (Though for the same reason I've heard that R' Moshe was the last acharon, as he was the last posek to write Shaalos and Teshuvos in the "classic" manner [compare Igros Moshe (especially the earlier letters) to Tshuvos Vehanhagos and you'll see the marked difference in style]) – Shmuel Brin Oct 16 '13 at 19:46
@ShmuelBrin It could be my lack of experience with the work, but my understanding is Nitei Gavriel is a Likkut Sefer, and that it's author is somewhat of a Talmid Chacham, but not a major-major Posek. I don't see why you would compare that book to major sets of responsa of the last 50 years (Tzitz Eliezer, Mishneh Halachot etc.) You still have some responsa being put out today (Rivevot Ephraim, Benei Vanim etc.) וכן ירבו. – Double AA Oct 16 '13 at 20:16
@ShmuelBrin And if you haven't seen it, it's totally worth your time en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shlomo_Zalman_Auerbach#External_links – Double AA Oct 16 '13 at 20:18

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