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Gaon (gā'ōn) (Hebrew: גאון, lit. genius, plural גְּאוֹנִים geonim — gĕ'ōnīm) may have originated as a shortened version of "Rosh Yeshivat Ge'on Ya'akov", though there are alternative explanations. In Ancient Hebrew, it referred to arrogance and haughty pride (Amos 6:8 - "I abhor the pride of Jacob and detest his fortresses; I will deliver up the city and everything in it.") and later became known as a general term for pride, both the positive and negative forms ('Pride [of]'; Late Medieval and Modern Hebrew for 'genius'). Today, it may refer to:
- One of the Geonim, that is to say the heads of the two major academies, at Pumbedita and Sura, and later in Baghdad, during the period 589-1040. Prominent Geonim include:
- An honorific title given to a few leading rabbis of other countries in the same period, such as:
- Nissim Gaon (990-1062)
- Specific rabbis of later periods, called "gaon":
Many great Rabbis, though not formally referred to as the "Gaon of ..." are often lauded with this honorific as both a mark of respect and a means to indicate their greatness in the field of Torah learning.
- Jehoshua Brand , Simha Assaf and David Derovan (2007). "Gaon". In Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik (ed.). Encyclopedia Judaica. 7 (2nd ed.). Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale. p. 380.
- Jewish Virtual Library — Gaon
- "ידיד נפשי המנוח הדגול, שייף עייל שייף נפיק, הגאון הגדול רבי יוסף קאפח זצ"ל." — Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in the Hebrew responsa book שו"ת הריב"ד קאפח, quoted in עלון אור ההליכות גליון חודש תמוז התשס"ט (page 3).
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