A Drop Of Dikduk

Rabbi Mordechai Terebelo

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Parsha Vayishlach

The Statement: Perek 32:14 "Vayalan Sham Balaylah Hahoo" And he slept there on that night

The Rule: Words that end in a Kamatz Heh are considered of the female gender in Loshon Hakodesh.

The Problem: If Laylah ends in a Kamatz Heh, then the word Laylah should be considered female and the following word should be Hahee the female counterpart of Hahoo. Why does the Posuk use the male Hoo with the female word Laylah?

The Solution: The word Laylah is in esssence an exception to the rule. Although it ends in Kamatz Heh it is of the male gender. This is true even though the plural is Laylos which would seem to indicate that it is female too!!!!!!! To differentiate the word Laylah from the word Tzedakah, and other Kamaatz Heh endings which are female, there are some important differences. First in the word Tzedakah, since the last Heh tells us if it is female it is considered a very important part of the word and therefore the Taam (accent) is Milra, on the last part of the word, as opposed to Laylah where the Taam is always on the first part of the word since the Heh is not a vital part of the word. In the word Tzedakah also, due to the fact that the Heh is so vital to the word the word turns to Tzidkas (the Heh turns to a Saf) when used to describe something, such as Tzidkas Hashem. This is in contrast to Laylah where the Heh does not turn to a Saf because the Heh is not such a vital part of the word and the word is "Layl" Shimurim (the night of watching) with the Heh being dropped because of it's unimportance instead of turning to a Saf.

Rabbi Mordechai Terebelo is Rav of Congregation Young Israel of Lawrenceville New Jersey He is also a Rebbe in Bezalel Hebrew Day School of Lakewood New Jersey and a member of the Kollel of Beth Medrash Govoha

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