I often hear the Hebrew abbreviation for Maimonides appended to a definite article but don't quite understand why it should be there when the unabbreviated name would (I think) never warrant such an appendage. Is one method of referring more correct/more acceptable by some standard?

  • 2
    I suspect that you're attacking an emergent phenomenon rather than an application of some rule.
    – Isaac Moses
    Mar 22 '11 at 18:31
  • Actually, the same phenomenon is applied to many Rishonim, and a few Acharonim. I heard once, though I can't cite a source, that it has to do with the Rav in question being a Mekubal. If he is known as a great mystic, he gets the "Ha" appended to his name/acronym. I can't remember who told me this, though, or what the source for that might be.
    – Seth J
    Mar 22 '11 at 18:53
  • Even when not abbreviated, people are called harav so-and-so, Maimonides included, so why not abbreviate it with the ha-? Maybe not the best source but one is snurl.com/27oczo
    – msh210
    Mar 22 '11 at 19:36
  • Hm, that link doesn't work. bit.ly/hA6Hxo should (and point to the same target).
    – msh210
    Mar 22 '11 at 21:02
  • I have seen HaRav used as a higher mark of respect, for instance HaRav [Rosh Yeshiva X] and Rav [Maggid Shiur X].
    – Double AA
    Jul 23 '12 at 3:15

I've always thought it's because his (major) sefer is itself often called by this name. Once you say "the Rambam" with the meaning of "the sefer Mishneh Torah/Yad Hachazakah," it's a short step to using the same expression to refer to the author. Similarly with other Rishonim and Acharonim. By contrast, I've never heard anyone say "the Rashi," because his commentary isn't an independent sefer.

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