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The Statement: Bamidbar 16:22 "HaIsh Echad Yecheta Veal Kal HaEidah
Tiktsoph" Will one person sin and on the entire congregation you will get
The Question: A Heh in the beginning of a word may have one of two functions. It may be a Heh Hayideah, a Heh that is in place of the word "the." A Heh in the beginning of a word may also be a Heh Hashalah, which is a Heh that is pointing out a question. One of the ways to tell the difference is by the vowel sounds. A Heh Hayideah is usually given the vowel sound of Patach as opposed to the Heh Hashalah which usually has the Chataf Patach sound. What do we learn from the fact that in our Posuk the word HaIsh has a Kamatz for it's first sound?
The Solution: The only time a Heh receives a Kamatz in the beginning of a word is if it is a Heh Hayideah. A Heh Hashalah receives either a Chataf Patach or a Segol even if preceding an Alef. Only a Heh Hayideah receives a Kamatz before an Alef providing the Alef does not have a Kamatz.
It therefore follows to reason that the Posuk when saying HaIsh with a Kamatz is stating a fact (Heh Hayideah) rather than posing a question. (Heh Hashalah) It is for this reason that Rashi explains these words in the form of a statement rather than as a question. The Posuk is stating, One person has sinned, and we understand his punishment. Then the Posuk poses the question, "And you wish to be angry with the entire congregation?" Rashi interprets the Posuk in this manner because the Heh of HaIsh is given the vowel sound of Kamatz which would be the sign of a Heh Hayideah rather than a Heh Hashalah.
Rabbi Mordecai Terebelo can be reached at MTEREBELO@juno.com
Rabbi Terebelo is Rav of Young Israel of Lawrenceville 5th-6th grade Rebbi at Bezalel Hebrew Day School of Lakewood NJ Member Kollel of Beth Medrash Govoha and Director of Partners in Torah Program of Lawrenceville NJ
Courtesy of JewishAmerica (www.JewishAmerica.com)