I find it awkward to constantly say "Rabbi" instead of "you" while in a conversation.

For example:

"Hello Rabbi. I once spoke with the Rabbi regarding X. The Rabbi said Y. I think that the Rabbi was correct..."

Is it enough to simply say "rabbi" once in the onset of the conversation and then switch to "you"?

As in:

"Hello Rabbi. I once spoke with the Rabbi regarding X. You said Y. I think that the you were correct..."

  • 4
    Related: Speaking to a Rabbi in the Third Person
    – MTL
    Oct 20, 2014 at 18:37
  • 7
    I'm often unsure about "Thank Rabbi" and "Rabbi's welcome"
    – Ypnypn
    Oct 20, 2014 at 18:56
  • I know I've seen a source that condones The latter approach as what is necessary. I'll try to find it
    – Baby Seal
    Oct 20, 2014 at 19:29

4 Answers 4


From what I saw during while being in Yeshiva for 10 yrs. the Rabbiem are happier when they are constantly called Rebbi.

I don't think they are looking for honor. They want you to honor the Torah.

The following is from the Yeshiva Website:

It seems from the Rambam that the source of speaking to someone in third person out of respect is not a Halachah. In Hilchot Talmud Torah, chapter 5 that discusses honoring the sages, he writes in Halachah 5, One should not greet his Rabbi, or return greetings to him, in the same way that people greet friends and return greetings to each other, but one should bow slightly in front of him and say in reverence, Shalom to you, my Rabbi. If the Rabbi greeted him, he returns greetings by saying, Shalom to you, my Rabbi and teacher. We see from here that he is speaking respectfully in second person. Also in Halachah 9 he writes, if one sees his Rabbi violating a Torah matter, he tells him, so and so is what you taught us, our Rabbi. Whenever he mentions something he heard he says to him, this is what you taught us, our Rabbi. Here we see again that he used a respectful terminology in second person.

  • The website yeshiva.co/ask/?id=4825 continues to opine "I think that in English it is more common to use third person only when speaking to Gedolim and not with any Rabbi. But it is important to calculate wisely how to approach the Rabbi, it is always better to give a little more respect than too little."
    – rosends
    Oct 20, 2014 at 18:58

Copied from Speaking to a Rabbi in Third Person:

The Bach (Y.D. 242:6) seems to believe that while such a practice (referring to one's teacher in third person) is appropriate, it is not an absolute requirement, and therefore if one is having an extended conversation with one's teacher, the second person may be used after the first time the teacher is addressed.


Rabbi Ahron Lopianksy asked my father not to refer to him in the third person while conversing.


some important additions to the previous answers:

  1. The problem with English is that they don't distinguish between single and plural in the second person, as in "Thou" and "Ye". In Hebrew, there are three forms of addressing an important person - second person single (אתה) second person plural (אתם) or third person (הוא).

    For example, "מה אתה, הרב, מבקש" or "מה אתם, הרב, מבקשים" or "מה הרב מבקש". THe first being the most informal and the last most formal.

  2. We differentiate between a prominent Rabbi and a friend-Rabbi. Your question only applies to the former. A friend-Rabbi is someone you do not subordinate yourself to.

  3. Since we address Hashem with "you" (as in "ברוך אתה") it is not so assaulting to address any rabbi with אתה.

  4. We may also use different languages to the same Rabbi in different situations, for example, in the Yeshivah I always use the third person, but in person, I use the second person plural.

  5. There's no clear Halachah, but cultural and traditional trends. As the Rabbis in the Gemmorah weren't so careful about a specific form of addressing each other, we usually follow the accepted etiquette (that is constantly lowering the bar). Same is true not only for Rabbis but for all other areas, for example, the teachers in Israeli secular schools were addressed in the third person before 1970s-1980s.

  6. Because of the Mitzvah of fearing Rabbis, it is important to treat them with respect and this is a part of it.

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