Throughout my learning, I keep encountering this fellow Herbert, although he's always referred to by his nickname Herb. I've seen him referred to in many different contexts. Sometimes he's a story teller, הרב המגיד, Herb the Maggid. Occasionally he's head of the court, הרב אב בית דין. I even read that he was the first to arrive in Israel - הרב הראשי לישראל, Herb the first to Israel.

Where can I find out more about this Herb fellow?

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  • 2
    I laughed out loud, and was reminded of when my French friend insisted on reading "Hillel" aloud as "hill," with a note of great curiosity
    – SAH
    Mar 7, 2017 at 17:07
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    @SAH Hebrew names can be quite funny to the various Gentile teachers who teach secular subjects in a yeshiva. If you think "Hilly" is strange, I feel sorry for the teacher who has to call the boy, "Yecchie" or "Slow Moe".
    – DanF
    Mar 7, 2017 at 17:19
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    <serious>Just wondering, what does הרב actually mean?</serious>
    – AAM111
    Mar 11, 2017 at 3:27
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    @OldBunny2800 הרב is "HaRav" which means "The Rabbi" Mar 12, 2017 at 4:15
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    if you like an answer, consider marking it correct :)
    – mevaqesh
    Mar 16, 2017 at 5:41

3 Answers 3


Herb is another name for Solomon. As is stated in I Kings (5:21):

ויהי כשמע חירם, את-דברי שלמה--וישמח מאד; ויאמר, ברוך יהוה היום, אשׁר נתן לדוד בן חכם על-העם, הרב הזה.

And it came to pass, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon, that he rejoiced greatly, and said: 'Blessed be the LORD this day, who hath given unto David a wise son over the nation; this Herb.'

It seems that as a tribute to the great Solomon, later authority are deferentialy referred to as Herb, as well.


There is a series of books written about him by Rabbi Hershel Schachter, beginning with נפש הרב ("The Soul of Herb"), followed by מפניני הרב ("Pearls of Herb"), and finally, דברי הרב ("Herb's Words"). These books contain many teachings, stories, and otherwise illuminating material about Herb.


Wikipedia explains that an herb is

any plants used for food, flavoring, medicine, or fragrances for their savory or aromatic properties.

So when you see this usage, it is not referring to the name of a person, but a special property of that herb.

For example - "Herb Harashi" means, simply, the main herb, namely, the most important herb currently used in your cooking recipe, or, maybe, the most popular herb in your region. In some places in India they refer to "Herb Harashi, Cardamom."

"Herb Hamachshir" means the herb that makes something kosher. The term "kosher" has a meaning besides the halachic one. It is commonly used to mean "OK" or "acceptable". In the case of cooking, the "Herb hamachshir" is the one that makes the food tasty. Usually, it's a nickname for salt.

"Herb Av Bet Din" has an interesting nuance. It means the herb belonging to the father of the law family (In Hebrew, "Bet" can mean "family".) This was obviously a family of lawyers, and everyone in the family was extremely smart. But the father was a tremendous sage who was the smartest of all of them. Hence, he named an herb after himself. The herb is currently known as "sage" (what else?) or in Hebrew, "Herb Av Bet Din".

"Herb Hamagid" refers to the herb that tells a story, or rather, the herb that people speak about. That could be almost any herb, and it's a general reference. It begins with someone tasting the food that you cooked by adding a "secret" herb. For example, I added tarragon to my home-made tomato sauce (You should try it; it's outrageous!) People who tried my tomato sauce raved on it and asked, "What is that herb that makes your sauce so delicious?" I told them. They started adding it to their sauce, and they're friends and family loved it. Before I know it, everyone in my neighborhood is talking about it. That's your "Herb Hamaggid".

  • How about "Herb Hamaggid"? Mar 8, 2017 at 3:50
  • @Yez Added the "story"
    – DanF
    Mar 8, 2017 at 14:08
  • How about Herb Hatzadik and Herb HaGoon?
    – Yitzchak
    Mar 8, 2017 at 15:36
  • @Yitchak - I think my answer addressed only the specific herbs in OP's question as well as some extras. If you'd like answers to your specific herbs, you'll have to speak to my special Purim agent ;_) You can discuss the funny fees with "it" (my agent is an androgynous transgender.)
    – DanF
    Mar 8, 2017 at 15:40
  • That is so funny! +1 Oct 9, 2017 at 16:07

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