dear litvaksig members,
the title "hechaver" was -and is used not only on tombstones but also in
calling people up to the Torah.It is a title of respect to leaders or
respected elders---but especially used for scholars,learned members of
the community-TALMIDEY CHACHOMIM.It is more common in congregations
whose origin was in Germany-and in Anglo-Saxon congregations folowing
their custom-minhag.Among our Litvak and Russian and Poylisher ancestors
the term REB(i stress-not rav or rov or rabbi which refer to musmochim -
people with semicha-rabbinical ordination)was used.
In the Gemorreh-talmud and Mishne the term is mentioned dozens of times-
and thousands of years ago already signified a scholar or associate of
scholars.In Jastrows Talmudic Dictionary there are a number of such
references-in addition to our common modern meaning of "friend"or member
of a kibbutz or club or party or organisation (Unless stated as being a
chaver os unlikely to appear on a grave with such a meaning.)
To back up all i have written ,i refer anyone to the very large entry
in the Jewish Encyclopaedia under the entry""HAVER".
sincerely,Rabbi Menachem Mendal Katz.Israel.