Culture, Israel, Justice

Rabbinic or Rabbinical?

I’m proud to have conceived the Brit Tzedek NYC Rabbinic Fellowship, which for the past six months has been blessed with two super-cool rabbis-to-be: Rachel Grant Meyer (HUC-JIR) and Joshua Frankel (Yeshivat Chovevei Torah). The fellowship’s purpose is to organize Jewish clergy in New York City to support Obama’s peace policies, which they just concluded to huge success. They surveyed our 200+ local rabbi supporters, christened a 74-member cabinet, and met with the top influencers where time permitted. They’re true pursuers of peace and the pro-peace movement owes them a huge, huge thank you. (If you want to join the cabinet, just say so.)
But seriously, I’ve been ashamed to ask over the past six months…is it the Rabbinic Fellowship or the Rabbinical Fellowship? Rabbinic Cabinet or Rabbinical Cabinet? I’m pretty sure students are rabbinical students…somebody help me out, eep.

6 thoughts on “Rabbinic or Rabbinical?

  1. Hmm… One possibility (I’m just guessing here based on common usage) is to use rabbinic like a possessive (belonging to rabbis) and rabbinical as an adjective (pertaining to rabbis). Thus it’s “rabbinic supervision” and “rabbinic cabinet” but “rabbinical school.” Of course, they could just be synonyms. If you google either word without quotes google will happily deliver results with both rabbinic and rabbinical highlighted. Likewise does not distinguish. Mostly for everything other than seminaries, I like “rabbinic” better, that “al” just seems superfluous.

  2. Merriam Webster says that rabbinical is a variant of rabbinic.
    I’m generally with CoA, though, that one less syllable is preferable unless there’s a convention for using rabbinical, such as with seminaries and their students.

  3. I don’t know the history behind this, but HUC students tend to use “rabbinic student” and everyone else tends to use “rabbinical student.” I assume this usage is similar to “medical student.”

  4. That isn’t my experience, RKT. At the LA campus, plenty tend to prefer “rabbinical.”
    One explanation I’ve heard:
    “Rabbinic” refers to a historical period, or a genre of literature, etc, related to the Rabbis (cap R)
    “Rabbinical” = of, by, or pertaining to rabbis (little r)

  5. Thanks for the shout-out, Ben. BTvS does great work, to which I am happy to have contributed and I look forward to continuing to contribute.
    Josh, you are correct. In rabbinical circles (pertaining to “little r” rabbis), rabbinic refers to “all things rabbi” of the time period of The Rabbis (e.g., of the Talmud) and rabbinical refers to “all things rabbi” of the time period of . . . after The Rabbis (e.g., now!).

  6. I could argue the opposite of RGM. I tend to use “rabbinic” just for economy. One exception due to tradition, is when speaking of “rabbinical Judaism,” which, by definition, refers to the rabbinic system that started after 500 CE. In all other contexts — “rabbinic.”

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