Chief rabbi

World English Dictionary
Chief Rabbi
 
n
the chief religious minister of a national Jewish community

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Encyclopedia Britannica
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chief rabbi

in Judaism, a supreme religious authority whose decisions bind all those under its jurisdiction. The prototype of the chief rabbinate was the Great Sanhedrin of Jerusalem, which, until the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70, issued legislation and interpreted Jewish Law for all the Jewish people. The Patriarchate functioned with Roman support until about 425, since which Jewry has had no central authority. Various Jewish communities, however, have seen the practical advantages of having a chief rabbi even though, technically speaking, the religious authority of all rabbis is equal. The need, moreover, for some kind of national Jewish authority has often been recognized by both Jews and governments to protect Jewish interests and facilitate relations between non-Jewish governments and large Jewish populations. Sometimes Jews resented appointments by secular authorities when the choice seemed to have been made with a desire to manipulate the Jewish community

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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