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The Veromemanu Foundation is dedicated to spreading the Divine depth and sublimity of Biblical Hebrew as taught by the Jewish sages. 

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Vayeitzei: The Unique Flock ~ The Wonders of the Holy Tongue

Our Parashah, Vayeitzei, focuses in the main on the life of Jacob our father, a shepherd by profession. Jacob was not the first of the shepherds in the Pentateuch; indeed, many of the Biblical personalities practiced this vocation, starting from Abel to Abraham and including Moshe Rabbeinu himself. Given this fact, the exclusive word for a flock of sheep in Hebrew, עדר, would have been expected to be found dozens or hundreds of times in the Chumash. However, the word עדר actually appears a total of only 11 times, and all of us in our Parashah and in the next week’s portion, Vayishalach – both of which center on the life and times of Jacob and his sons – a phenomenon requiring explanation .
In this article, we examine the four disparate meanings derivatives of the root עדר and suggest a relationship between them. We also look at all the words containing the letters דר and suggest a common denominator between them. And in the end, we propose a link between the common meaning of all of these words to Jacob’s personality and life, and why the Jewish people bears his name, and not of his progenitors. Shabbat Shalom!

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