A Drop Of Dikduk

Rabbi Mordechai Terebelo

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Parshas Korach

The Statement: Perek 17 Posuk 25 "Oosechal Teloonohsam" and put an end to their complaints.

The Rule: Generally when we express a plural of an object or an action we add a Mem at the end. For instance the word Dode which means uncle would be Dodam for their uncle and Dodayhem for their uncles in the plural form. If we were to refer to one complaint and wanted to say "their complaint" we would say Teloonasam with a Kamatz under the nun and a Kamatz Mem ending. If we were to refer to their many complaints then we would say Teloonosayhem. There would be a Tzeirei under the Taf followed by a Yud Heh Mem ending.

The Problem: The word Teloonohsam seems not to fit into either of these patterns. On the one hand, it has a Cholom for the plural of complaints. Yet the ending is just a Kamatz followed by a Mem which is the sign of a singular complaint. It would seem that the word Teloonohsam is a hybrid and a mixture of both plural and singular.

The Explanation: One explanation is given by the sefer Havanas Hamikra. There it explains that the word Teloonohsam refers to complaining in general. Since it is not referring to any specific action or object but rather about complaining in general it can have characteristics of both singular and plural words. Even if the complaining is over a number of issues and by many people it still will take on some of the singular characteristics.

In the Sefer Habochur from R' Elyahu Bachur a different approach is taken. When Reuvan and Shimon own one maidservant together the word is Shifchasam. This is the singular of their maidservant. When Reuvan and Shimon each own a Shifcha then we say Shifchosam with a Cholom after the Chet to denote the plural maidservants, but yet with a Kamatz Mem ending. If Ruevan and Shimon each own many maidservants then we say Shifchosayhem. It would seem that the Teloonohsam is saying that all of Bnai Yisroel had one complaint and therefore we use the Plural form of Teloonohs since they all were complaining. Yet since it was all the same complaint we therefore use the Kamatz Mem ending associated with a singular object.

To reach Rabbi Terebelo you can email him at the following address: mterebelo@juno.com

Courtesy of JewishAmerica (www.JewishAmerica.com)

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