I have heard it said before that Chazal (חז"ל = חכמינו זכרונם לברכה; "our sages of blessed memory") refers to sages of the Mishna and Gemara, while Razal (רז"ל = רבנים/נו זכרונם לברכה; "our/the rabbonim of blessed memory") refers to Rishonim exclusively. I can't see that I have necessarily seen this distinction borne out by the literature, and suspect, though might be wrong, that the two are more-or-less interchangeable.

Can anybody clarify whether or not there is actually a distinction between these two terms, or whether or not anybody holds that there should be a distinction between them, and what that distinction might be?

  • I think it is generally that way, but there are definitely exceptions
    – Yishai
    Apr 3, 2014 at 22:17
  • @Yishai - For all I know, though, his "מקום אחר" is personal correspondence. Do you know of any printed texts that use Chazal to refer to acharonim?
    – Shimon bM
    Apr 3, 2014 at 23:11
  • Yes, it is a common attribution for that statement in Chassidic literature, even though the source for it is at earliest the Shiloh HaKadosh - an early Achron. However, it is an unusual formulation, and has been commented on.
    – Yishai
    Apr 4, 2014 at 2:01
  • The Tanya seems to use razal to refer to the Gemara.
    – andrewmh20
    Sep 15, 2014 at 21:20


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .