Rebbitzin (Yiddish: רביצין) or Rabbanit (Hebrew: רַבָּנִית) is the title used for the wife of a rabbi, typically from the Orthodox, or Haredi, and Hasidic Jewish groups. With the growth of independent scholarship among Orthodox women, some women have informally received the title on their own merit, irrespective of their husbands.[1]

The Yiddish word has a convoluted etymology: Hebrew rebbə "master", plus the Slavic feminine suffix -itsa and the German feminine suffix -in.

In many Chassidic courts, Rebbitzins are considered to be spiritual counselors, and give blessings. In circles such as the Chassidic dynasty of Belz, the girls schools are run by the rebbitzin. There are also several recorded instanced of female rebbes, who while technically rebbitzins, were full-fledged rebbes in their own right. One such famous case is the Maiden of Ludmir.

The rabbi's wife plays an important community role, especially in small communities. In many ways, she is called on to be as knowledgeable as the rabbi in the realm of woman's observances: in this manner, for something that does not require a psak (ruling), she can be approached when a woman does not feel comfortable approaching the rabbi, or where the rabbi maybe should not be approached. For instance, the rebbitzin may often be the "mikvah lady" and help with more mundane questions regarding the laws of niddah. Part of it, certainly, is that she always has the rabbi's ear, and that she would know if the question needs to be asked, in order to get a psak.

When a rabbi is a "pulpit rabbi," (versus a teacher or a "lay rabbi") his wife becomes something of a first lady of the community and performs social tasks and "outreach" roles, freeing her husband to attend to rabbinical duties.

The term "Rabbanit" is now used by some women rabbis. Other feminine terms such as "Morati" were initially suggested, but "Rabbanit," coined by Bat Sheva Marcus at the 1997 conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy in New York, is more widespread. In Israel, some women rabbis use the term Raba (רבה) - an alternate female form of Rav ("rabbi").

See also

  • Balabusta (Jewish homemaker)
  • Negiah (guidelines for physical contact)
  • Niddah (menstruation laws)
  • Shalom bayit (peace and harmony in the relationship between husband and wife)
  • Shidduch (finding a marriage partner)
  • Tzniut (modest behavior)
  • Yichud (prohibitions of secluding oneself with a stranger)


  1. See, for exampleRebbetzin Pavlov, Rebbetzin Heller, et al.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Rebbetzin. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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