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Rabbi Yehoshua Jeremy Steinberg

There are a lot of non-profit Jewish organizations. New ones seem to appear each day to address illnesses, educational needs, medical expenses, food, clothing, and wedding expenses. The list is endless. The Veromemanu Foundation for Research of the Holy Tongue is just a little bit different than your average organization. Founded by Rabbi Yehoshua Jeremy Steinberg, the Veromemanu Foundation uses its resources to discover and research intricate connections between Hebrew words and shorashim – roots of words – to give additional meaning and depth to the Torah and texts that have been studied for millennia.

Chaplain Steinberg, a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army was called to active military duty immediately following 9/11. While stationed in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, without his usual household duties, the father of nine found himself with some free time at night and started studying shorashim in depth.


One example Rabbi Steinberg explained is the Torah verse, “Lo tisgodidu,” (Devarim 14:1) – the prohibition against cutting oneself when in state of mourning. The Talmud, Yevamos 14a, explains alternatively that it a proscription against forming factions, from the word “agudah.” But the very word “agudah” is also used to describe the connection required to bind together the arba minim – the four species – which are held together as a group on Sukkos. Chazal based their exposition on both “cut apart” and “group together” – seemingly opposites. He answers his question by pointing out that when you bring together a group of people, you are at the same time cutting out the people not in the group. “Looking at the roots of words opens up vistas in knowledge and thinking that we otherwise would be oblivious to,” Rabbi Steinberg says, with an obvious passion for the subject.

After some time, he was sent to serve in Germany where he continued his research and discovered a number of classical works on the subject, including Yerios Shlomo and Cheshek Shlomo by Rabbi Shlomo Pappenheim, Dayan of Breslau, Germany, who lived from 1740-1814.

Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein, author of Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew, is Rabbi Steinberg’s right-hand man at Veromemanu, in his position as the founding editor. Involved with many different aspects of the organization, one of his roles, along with other scholars, is answering questions that come in from the public regarding shorashim. Rabbi Klein compiled and edited a volume of responsa on this subject. “Veromemanu is a sort of rabbinic think-tank of scholars who delve into the profound depths of Biblical Hebrew to discover its hidden wisdom, and then helps disseminate those truths to a wider audience,” explains Rabbi Klein.

Currently, Rabbi Steinberg along with the Veromemanu Foundation staff, are working on a compendium of all the works on shorashim by the great classical rabbinic grammarians and linguists. This flagship project of the Veromemanu Foundation is called the Yalkut Hashorashim. It is an easy-to-use, alphabetic, multi-volume encyclopedia, complete with the full texts of the great linguists, charts summarizing the various opinions, and original commentaries all in one place. This will allow for more in-depth analysis of any given Torah word or shoresh.

Rabbi Steinberg also points out that while most people familiar with Hebrew are aware of the three-letter shoresh, “there are also opinions that there is an entire category of two-letter roots as well.” Also in development is a similar compendium on synonyms, milim nirdafos in the Holy language, which will include a new edition of Rabbi Shlomo of Urbino’s classical work Ohel Moed, among many others.

Veromemanu is at the forefront of modern analysis of Biblical Hebrew and after decades of research and editing, the volumes to be published in the near future are sure to have an impact on Torah study for generations.

For more information about the work of Veromemanu or to make a donation to this cause, visit their website at


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