גדול (plurual: gedolim
"big" or "great"), is a Hebrew term used mostly by Haredi Litvish Jews
to refer to the most revered rabbis
of the Generation. These Rabbis are usually held in high esteem by other Haredi or Orthodox Jews, though not necessarily to the same degree as Litvish Jews do. It is almost exclusively used to refer to rabbinic leaders since World War I
. Other variations of the term are Gadol Yisrael
or a Gadol BeYisrael
(plural Gedolei Yisrael
The term gadol hador refers to the "great/est (one of) the generation" denoting one rabbi who is presumed to be even greater than the others. Adeherents of Torah Judaism accept that a gadol is presumed to have some degree of ruach hakodesh ("divine spirit") and his teachings and statements become the crux of Daas Torah. Most often a gadol functions as a rosh yeshiva (the head of a yeshiva Talmudical school), and can be a Hasidic Rebbe. Another way of calling a gadol hador is "Rashkebahag" which is an Acronym of "Rabbon shel kol bnei hagolah" (The Sage and teacher of the entire Jewish diaspora). The title gadol hador is usually only give to one Jewish Sage at a time, while the title "Rashkebahag" can be given to a few.
A gadol is quite often also a posek (a decisor of Halakha - Jewish law) and may be the author of rabbinic literature and responsa.
Age of maturity
Gadol is also used as a term for a Jewish boy who turns thirteen and hence is viewed as a full adult with regards to his obligations to practice the mitzvos. This is the age of Bar Mitzvah. When a Jewish girl reaches the age of twelve and a half, according to Jewish law, she is called a gedolah (the feminine usage of gadol).
The Kohen Gadol refers to the high priets in the Jewish Temples that were in Jerusalem. Shabbat Hagadol is the Shabbat prior to Passover.
(plural: Manhigei Yisroel
), literally means someone who "leads the children of Israel
It is a title given to an exceptional rabbi or rebbe who is considered one of the spiritual leaders of his generation.
As a word in general Hebrew usage
Gadol is used in modern Hebrew in a variety of ways. It comes from the root word meaning size thus common usage denotes a large size. Variations of the root word also mean to grow. It also can mean greatness, famous, powerful, influential, and successful. Gadol as slang is used as an interjection to mean something is extremely cool, out of this world, superb, awesome, absurdly funny or hilarious. For example, upon hearing a funny joke one might interject "Gadol!".
(In order of their passing)