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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
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    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
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    @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
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    @ShimonbM 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 I don't know how much a break is there between "Rishonim" and "Achronim", but you rarely (if ever) find a Taz arguing on a Trumas Hadeshen alone. – Shmuel Brin Apr 14 '17 at 19:26
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(Personally, I have heard from people that say that the Tekufas Haacharonim continues until Mashiach, and from others, that it ended a while ago, and that we are in the "Tekufas Rashei Yeshiva.)

Most of the sources freely available on the internet (here, here, here, here, etc.) do not give a good definition for this, and simply say that this "Tekufah" continues nowadays.

In this article on Daat, they also say that we are still in the Tekufas Haacharonim, but note a number of variables that help us define the beginning/end of a "Tekufah":

כל תקופה נתייחדה, כידוע, בהיסטוריה משלה בעניינים רבים ושונים, כגון: תנאים חברתיים, גבולות גיאוגרפיים, השכלה, מאורעות היסטוריים וכיו"ב.

In this amazing article by Rav Moshe Lichtenstein, he suggests that a likely conclusion is that the Tekufas Haacharonim has already finished (p. 41). He bases this on his two major criteria, geographical/historical changes, and changes in learning style. However, he makes a very important point in his conclusion, namely, that we cannot predict the future, and we will only know this in the future:

סופו של דבר, מובן מאליו שלא הכותב ולא הקורא בעת הזאת יכולים לדעת את התשובה לשאלה זו, ורק בניהם אשר יקומו אחריהם יוכלו לקבוע ולהבחין מתי אכן נגמרה תקופת האחרונים. בינתיים אין ברצוני לעסוק בנבואות ואם לא בתחזיות אלא אך ורק להצביע על כמה מאפיינים של התקופה הנוכחית כנקודות למחשבה ולהרהור על מנת שנבין טוב יותר את מקומנו בהווה.

These therefore seem to be conventions, not Halachic demarcations.

(If anyone has access to Otzar Hachachma, I would love to read what Rav Shilat has to say on this in here. All I saw in the intro was that we are still in the Tekufas Haacharonim.)

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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
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    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
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    @ShmuelBrin What about Yabia Omer? Minchat Shlomo? Reading "responsa" of Rs Chaim Kanievsky or Moshe Shternbuch do indeed often disappoint for their style. I don't know though that the Mishna Berura reads that differently from other relatively contemporaneous works, like Aruch haShulchan or Chazon Ish. – Double AA Oct 16 '13 at 19:56
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    @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
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    @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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