What is the significance of the word "Hakatan" after one's surname? If this descriptive is used by learned people and rabbonim, then is it not self-defeating to call oneself "Hakatan"?

  • Please give some examples. – Al Berko Jun 25 '19 at 19:18
  • Some people write this out of modesty, "me the small/modest Reb X etc." – mbloch Jun 25 '19 at 19:37
  • 1
    R' Menashe Klein signed his name as "Menashe hakatan", which is a play on his surname – simyou Jun 26 '19 at 6:59

The Talmud Yerushalmi (Sotah 9:13) asks why Shmuel Hakatan was called "Hakatan", and it provides two explanations:

ולמה נקרא שמו קטן לפי שהוא מקטין עצמו ויש אומרים לפי שמעט היה קטן משמואל הרמתי

And why was his name called "katan" (small)? Because he diminished himself. And some say because he was slightly lesser than Shmuel Haramati.

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