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    Mixed multitude – Va’era

    When eventually the Hebrew slaves left Egypt, a “mixed multitude” (erev rav) went with them (Ex. 12:38).

    There is a connection between this erev and the one that means “evening”.

    The underlying meaning is “to mix”. Evening is a mixture of day and night; that’s why the Evening Service is Arvit or Ma’ariv, because at the end of the daylight hours God mixes (ma’ariv) the light and the darkness: then the day recedes and night takes over.

    In the story of the Exodus the Hebrews might have fled with a motley group of outsiders, which the Targum calls nuchra’in, strangers. These people took the opportunity to escape, though the Midrash has views that the mixture was of insects (Sh’mot Rabbah 11).

    Rashbam says the mixture was of fierce animals, particularly wolves, because animals such as wolves hunt in packs.

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