Rabbi was a title of respect for a Jewish teacher or scholar.
Those to whom this title was applied were well-versed in interpreting
Jewish law and doctrine.
status Judaism has accorded to prominent Rabbis is illustrated
the terms of address used of them, terms like ‘Light
of Israel’ and
‘The Chief Pillar’ (Polano c1876,
would use a wide range of techniques to communicate
messages. Proverbs, caricatures and metaphors were all
but rabbis were also quick to use parables to illustrate their
points, doing so far more frequently than was usual in the rest of the
Greco-Roman world. For example, when
asked about Num 16:22, “Will
you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?”, Rabbi
Simeon ben Yohai answered with
the following typical parable.
is like men sitting in a ship. One took a drill and began boring
beneath his seat. His fellow-travellers said, ‘What are you doing?’ He
responded, ‘What does it matter to you? It’s my seat I’m boring
They would often root their teaching in everyday experience.
For example, the Talmud reports that when Rabbi Joshua was asked why
created mankind, despite knowing that they would sin,
the rabbi challenged his questioner whether he had rejoiced at the
birth of his own children, despite knowing that they would
ultimately have to die? (Polano c1876, 289-90).