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On Simchat Torah, a special formula is used to call up the Chatan Torah, the person who gets the final aliyah. In this formula, it says "עמוד רבי (פלוני) חתן התורה" a few times.

The question: Why do we say רבי if he doesn't necessarily have semicha (Rabbinical ordination)? And if we give him the honor due to a Rabbi even if he isn't one, why do we not use the regular term הרב?

I am aware that this is a poetic work.

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Shaare Efrayim 8:60 and many other works cite the custom to call an esteemed person for this aliya. Perhaps "rabi" is used in the formula because it's typically a rabbi (as indeed it is in my own experience).

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