|ha'ish ehad yeheta ve'al kol ha'eida tiktzof (Num. 16:22) What does this mean? Before most letters the interrogative Heh has Chataf-Patach (there are exceptions eg: habemachanim (Num. 13:19) ('do they live in camps?') where the vowel-points are the same as for the definite article Heh 'the'); however before Alef, Heh, Chet, Ayin, the Chataf-Patach is replaced by Patach. The Heh of the definite article usually takes Patach and the following letter receives Dagesh; before Alef this is replaced by Kamatz. In our pasuk the Heh of ha'ish, which starts with Alef, has a Kamatz.
After the words ha'ish ehad yeheta ('The man is a sinner') Rashi inserts 'it is he who is the sinner' ve ('and') '[will] you' al kol ha'eida tiktzof ('become angry at the whole community?'). Rashi is regarding the Heh of ha'ish as being regular and therefore indicating the definite article and not interrogative. The question occurs only in the second half of the pasuk. 'will you become angry at the whole community?' That is how Rashi is understood by the commentaries in Sefer Dikdukei Rashi (18th century) and Sefer Leshon Chaim (20th century). The Chizkuni (a 13th century commentary which frequently expands on Rashi) writes similarly ha'ish ehad yeheta 'the heh has a kamatz to indicate that this is not a question, for it is not a surprise, it is normal for a man to sin, the surprise is '[will] you become angry at the whole community?' However Chizkuni is not referred to by the later writers.
Nevertheless R' A. Kaplan (The Living Torah) renders this passage 'If one man sins, shall You direct divine wrath at the entire community?' It is clear that R' A. Kaplan reads the Heh at the beginning of the passage as the interrogative Heh. Relying on English translations of R' S.R. Hirsch (Hirschler, Levy) it seems that R' Hirsch agrees with R' Kaplan. They regard this Heh as an interrogative Heh though its vowel point is irregular and the same as that of the definite article Heh.
veholeich (Num. 17:11) ('and take [it]') Onkelos translates 've'ovil' ('take [it]') R' A. ibn Ezra points out that it is imperative and gives parallel examples. R' S.R. Hirsch translates the word into German as 'bring es' which Gertrude Herschler translates correctly 'take it.' This is so because holeich here is the Hiph'il form of the root Yud, Lamed, Chaf. Unfortunately R' A. Kaplan and I. Levy (translation of Hirsch Chumash) missed the grammatical point and as a result mistranslated this word.
ut'chal telunotam (Num. 17:25) (according to R' Kaplan 'This should put an end to their complaints') Actually these two words present us with two problems:
1. Is the Tav of ut'chal a prefix indicating second person masculine future or third person feminine future?
Rashi writes 'like utechale ('and she will finish') it is a name for an act by a singular female' thereby answering the first question, (R' Kaplan's translation follows Rashi), however Rashbam writes 'You (masculine by implication) will put an end to their complaints' opting for the other possibility.
2. The word telunotam is irregular - if many people have one complaint, the term is telunatam; if many people have more than one complaint, the term is telunoteihem; Leshon Chaim points out that the word is a combination of these singular and the plural forms.
The second part of the passage in Rashi seems to be dealing with the second question but is somewhat obscure. Maskil leDavid writes about this passage at length and concludes 'this distinction floats on air and has nothing to support it, and R' Eliyahu Mizrachi too, was surprised as he found nothing like it in Scripture.' Both Be'er Rechovot and Leshon Chaim copy R' Eliyahu Bachur's comment on this Rashi but the Rashi remains obscure. However Rabbi C.D. Chavel (Rashi, Peirushei HaTorah, Mosad haRav Kook) writes 'this passage does not appear in the first print and in a number of manuscripts.'
[Readers will notice the more popular transliteration system. If it is troublesome please let me know.]
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I will be
pleased to have comments on these notes on the Parasha.
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
For information on subscriptions, archives, and