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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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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.

  • 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
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    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
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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 couldn't answer they forwarded them to someone they felt was better qualified. This process continued until 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 don't need to worry about who the gedolim are. We just need a qualified rabbi who knows us, who we trust to forward difficulties to someone better qualified if need be.

  • If the people at the top (there's usually more than one there) disagree, then the answer one asking at the bottom of the pyramid gets will depend on the specific route the question takes to the top. – user9806 Dec 9 at 16:39

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