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The author of Shulchan Aruch, in his capacity as the author of Shulchan Aruch, is often called "the m'chaber", or "ham'chaber", literally "the composer" or "the author". (Obviously, many authors are called that when discussing their books, but the m'chaber is often called that even out of such context. For example, when discussing halacha, one might mention that the Tur holds a certain view while the m'chaber holds another and the P'ri M'gadim a third.) While of course Shulchan Aruch is an important and seminal work, there are other works equally important and seminal.

How did it happen that the m'chaber came to be called that?

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First thing that comes to mind is that the Rama is called hagos,so it makes sense to call the Shulchan Aruch the Mechaber.He also took three shittos (Rif,Rosh,Rambam) and compiled the Shulchan Aruch,we still attribute the Shulchan Aruch to him. –  sam Nov 6 '13 at 4:48
    
Who calls the rama "the hagos"? –  Double AA Nov 6 '13 at 5:12
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I think it was initially in the context of the Shulchan Aruch itself; the main text was written by the author (m'chabeir), as opposed to the many peripheral commentaries that were written by others. Likewise, in the context of other (including less widely studied) s'farim, other authors are also called "the m'chabeir." In my experience, moreover, that is a relatively uncommon appellation for R' Yosef Karo (cf. for example "the Beit Yosef") outside the context of discussing the Shulchan Aruch. –  Fred Nov 6 '13 at 5:54
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@Fred Indeed, many of the nosei keilim on the Rambam refer to him as such. Ironically, "the Mechaber" would probably cringe to discover that he is known as "the author [of the Shulchan Aruch]" and not "the author [of the Beit Yosef]". –  Double AA Nov 6 '13 at 6:01
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@SethJ He would have thought the Beit Yosef was his magnum opus while the Shulchan Aruch was just a review book for those who knew Beit Yosef. –  Double AA Nov 6 '13 at 17:56
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I have heard that the Bais Yosef was called The Mechaber since he combined (Chibur = connect) all the different Talmidei Chachomim in one location to come to a Halachic conclusion.

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Was this meant as Drush or History? –  Double AA Nov 6 '13 at 17:54
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@DoubleAA: I heard this from one of my Rabeyim years ago. Do not remember if there was a source and in what context it was said. I felt it was a worthy answer in spite of its ambiguity. –  Gershon Gold Nov 6 '13 at 18:08
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