The word עד [Ad] is a proposition that means ‘as far as’, ‘up to’, ‘until’. It is about reaching the end, the limit, a goal or an aspiration. It suggests that you know where you’re going. It holds out the promise of accomplishment and achievement.
It is used in many different contexts. For example, it can be used for reaching a geographical location as in the verse:
or for reaching an abstract concept, such as time.
But that’s just the beginning! By combining several עד’s together you can indicate a higher level of comprehensiveness and completeness. There are many different ways of doing this.
Take, for example, the story of the flood in the book of Genesis. The Bible wants to say that God has decided to destroy absolutely everything.
The verse reads:
Repeating עד multiple times gives the sense that the destruction is complete.
A real sense of comprehensiveness is achieved by including the two extremes – from X to Y. In Genesis 19:4 we read
By stressing both the young and the old we know that everyone was included. Or when the Bible wants to tell us that it includes the whole land of Israel, it uses the phrase from Dan to Beer Sheva.
But it is possible to be even more comprehensive than this. When Abraham comes back from a war against the 4 Kings, he declares
Both a thread and a sandal strap are small worthless things. So Abram doesn’t say from small to large, but from small to similarly small. Why is this?
If you view the world in a linear way, you would say from small to large. But that’s still only 180° of the circle. With a more comprehensive view, you would say from small to small, it is as if you have gone around a full 360°. Now you have really included everything.
So the word עד takes us up to the very borders of our possibilities. I hope that if you have enjoyed my blog thus far עד כאן [Ad Kan], and you will continue to enjoy it to the end of time עדי עד [Adei Ad].
Rabbi Chaim Weiner