I have (obviously) heard a lot of Hebrew names of the form "Ploiny ben Almoiny," where Almoiny is Ploiny's father. But occasionally I see names written with the Aramaic "bar", for example Simon bar Kokhba, R'Mari bar Rochel, Simeon bar Yochai, and R'Yosef bar Dovid. "Bar" could be meaning בר or ב"ר; I'm not sure which. Some of these guys are old enough that an Aramaic-style name does not seem at all strange, but I have seen the "bar" in contemporary contexts, too. What is the difference, if any, between "ben" and "bar"? What determines which form--"ben" or "bar"--is used?

  • Full disclosure about motivation: I'm also wondering if it is more common for "bar" to be used when preceding a female name--not in Mi Shebeirach, but for men whose regular Hebrew names use their mother's name. (As in when a man's father is not Jewish.) – SAH Dec 3 '15 at 23:01
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    @SAH Don't confuse בר and ב"ר where the former is Aramaic for "the son of" and the latter is an abbreviation for "Ben/Bas Reb ...", and thus applicable to both men and women. – Adám Dec 7 '15 at 9:07
  • @NBZ Oh, interesting. Is ב"ר written as "bar" in English? – SAH Dec 11 '15 at 17:09
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    It would be pronounced that way, but actual writing would depend on the writer. I would probably write b"R or ba"R. – Adám Dec 12 '15 at 18:10
  • FWIW, I do not have a Jewish father but I am known as "Ezra ben Leah Hodayah" anyways. Not "bar Leah Hodayah." – ezra Sep 4 '17 at 23:55

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