When talking to a Torah Scholar, if you want to say that they are a "mensch" (as well), is there a better word that fits with a more Haredi/Litvish hashkafah?

I am asking as (it seems to me) a more secular Jew would find the word "mensch" a compliment, but for a Torah Scholar it does not quite seem to fit the idea of a mensch who derives part of his menschlikeit from his Torah knowledge and middot.

  • @DanF I think it's more a question about Jewish cultural norms (within a particular community). Jan 27 '16 at 15:42
  • @DanF: I have edited my question. Is that better? Did I understand correctly the edit you wanted?
    – Ask613
    Jan 28 '16 at 21:09
  • I'm fine with the edits, though, I don't quite agree for the premise. I think that the term "mentech" is generic menaing "a good upright, straightforward, honorable person". Certainly, that's what a rav is or should be. (Occasionally, some are not menches.) And a rav who is a mentch, is humble enough not to seek anything more, anyway. The answer, below, is a means of showing him extra honor, which is also appropriate, but, perhaps, unnecessary.
    – DanF
    Jan 29 '16 at 14:05

How about "ben torah"? (See e.g. here, here, and here.)

You could also try "baal middos".

  • 1
    Or "baal midos tovos", since "baal midos" can also mean "person of size".
    – msh210
    Jan 27 '16 at 15:43
  • 1
    @msh210 no, that would be a "person of sizes." baal midda might mean "person of size" Jan 29 '16 at 3:58

Historically, the ideal Jew in most of Eastern Europe was praise as an "ehrlicher Yid". Unlike the modern favorite of "frum", the implications of ehrlich revolve more around those mitzvos related to honesty, kindness, in addition to meaning observant as a whole.

Frum” descends from the German “fromm“, meaning pious or devout. In pre-war Yiddish, usage appears to have varied widely. On the one hand, those who named their daughters “Fruma” clearly thought being frum as complementary. On the other, there was an idiom, or as Rav Aharon Kotler often put it, “Frum iz a galech; ehrlich iz a Id — the town priest is ‘pious’, a Jew is refined.” I also heard the first part from grandparents of that same generation, “frum iz a galech“. Admittedly, both data points are from Lithuanian Iddish. (In Lithuanian dialect, the language is called אידיש not יידיש; similarly you may have seen in the quote from R' Aharon -- a Jew is א איד, not א ייד.)

Anyway, I think "ehrlach" and "ehrlachkeit" are what you are looking for. At least for this sentence, and hopefully as a life-goal.


Perhaps the term chassid would also be appropriate. I'm not talking about its meaning as used today, which tends to mean a person with a long beard, payot, and wearing some type of black robe and a shtreimel on Shabbat and Yom Tov, etc. I'm talking about its original meaning as used in many places in the Mishnah and Gemarah.

See Pirkei Avot 5:10 and 11 as examples. One says that someone who says "What's mine is yours and what's yours is yours" is a Chassid. Another says that someone who does not get angry easily and is easily appeased is also a chassid.

If this rav, demonstrates such behavior, which I hope he does, calling him a chassid is a huge compliment.

  • 1
    One famous person who had this 'title' was the Vilna Gaon AKA the Chasid from Vilna. (Ironic?)
    – Double AA
    Jan 29 '16 at 14:28
  • 1
    @DanF: While I think this would have been a great suggestion in the past, nowadays the term chassid has the complete connotation of a Chassid.
    – Ask613
    Jan 29 '16 at 16:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .