Ḥaver Ir or Ḥever Ir

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ḤAVER IR or Ḥever Ir

ḤAVER IR or Ḥever Ir (Heb. חֶבֶר עִיר ;חֲבֵר עִיר), a phrase whose exact vocalization and therefore meaning is uncertain. If the reading is ḥaver ir (lit. "an associate of the city"), it refers to an individual; if it is ḥever ir (lit. "a town association") the reference is to a specific association or organization. The latter reading could also imply a congregation or the religious quorum (minyan) required for public worship. The Mishnah (Ber. 4:7) records a difference of opinion as to whether the individual may himself recite the Musaf prayers or whether they may only be said publicly by the ḥever ir. In this context the phrase seems to mean a minyan. A similar conclusion is reached from the discussion concerning the differences between the order of the sounding of the shofar during private worship and public ḥever ir (rh 34b).

The rules regarding deportment at a funeral and in a house of mourning seem to indicate that the phrase refers to a specific communal fraternal society. The ḥever ir must participate in a man's funeral but not a woman's (Sem. 11:2). Neither was the ḥever ir obligated to extend condolences on the day that people gather the bones of relatives for reburial in ossuaries (Sem. 12:4). When the ḥever ir was present at the house of mourning, visitors were permitted to bring less costly food, since there were then many people to be fed (Ḥul. 94a; Sem. 14:13). In Jerusalem, there originally were ḥavurot ("associations") for participating in joyful events such as marriage and circumcision and in gathering the remains of the dead and comforting mourners (Tosef. Meg. 4 (3):15; Sem. 12:5). It may be that these ḥavurot were the precursors of the ḥever ir, or that they functioned together with it. They differed in that the ḥavurot were voluntary organizations whereas the ḥever ir was officially appointed by the townspeople as their representatives in performing these meritorious deeds.

Nevertheless, there are also instances where ḥaver ir seems to be the correct reading. After transient visitors to a town are assessed for charity, they may demand reimbursement for distribution to the poor in their own communities before their departure. However, when a ḥaver ir is in charge of the communal charity, no refund is granted and the ḥever ir uses it at his discretion (Meg. 25a–b, Rashi ad loc.). Likewise, the poor man's tithe could be given to the ḥaver ir who used it at his discretion (Tosef., Pe'ah 4:16). A kohen who had a disqualifying blemish was not permitted to utter the Priestly Benediction publicly, since the people would be distracted by it. If he is also a ḥaver ir, however, he may recite the benediction, since he is so well known that they will pay no attention to his disability (Tosef., Meg. 4 (3):29).


Geiger, Mikra; T. Horowitz, in: Festschriftzum Geburstage Jacob Guttmanns (1915), 125–42; idem, in: jjlg, 17 (1926), 241–314; S. Krauss, ibid., 125–42; S. Ginsburg, Perushim ve-Hiddushim ba-Yerushalmi, 3 (1941), 410–32; S. Lieberman, Tosefta ki-Feshuta, 1 (1955), 190.

[Harry Freedman]