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Hebrew is Magic: We All See the Light

As you can imagine, there’s a lot of talk in Israel right now about the plight of the hostages.

The major question on everyone’s mind: Is there any chance we’ll get them out alive?

However, an equally important question lies beneath this: If and when the hostages do come home, what will their lives be like?

Having endured the horrors of Gaza, can they return to anything resembling normalcy?

After so much time in literal and metaphorical darkness, is there hope for them to transition back into the light?

As I’m sure you agree, we have no choice but to believe: we must have unwavering hope that our brothers and sisters will return home alive and that a fulfilling life awaits them.

But it’s not just you and I who need to think this way. Indeed, Hebrew, in its infinite wisdom and capacity for optimism, is hopeful too.


The Hebrew word for freedom is chofesh.

But when it comes to the setting free of hostages, captives, or anyone who’s gone through a traumatic experience, Hebrew uses a different word: l’shachrer

Look closely. Do you see another word embedded inside, one you may recognize?

Lo and behold, right there in the middle of l’shachrer is shachar

Hebrew for “dawn” – that beautiful part of the day when the darkness is almost (but not quite) behind us and the light grows ever stronger.

To me, the message conveyed by Hebrew couldn’t be more hopeful, or more clear: To set a person free is to usher them into the dawn. In doing so, they are granted a new beginning, a fresh start.

In this sense, l’shachrer is more than just a verb, it’s an invitation to transition from the darkness they have known into the light that awaits them.

This is our fervent hope, and our heartfelt prayer: that they may all emerge from darkness into the brilliant freedom of a new day.

Joel Chasnoff is a stand-up comedian, podcast host, and co-author of Israel 201, winner of the 2023 National Jewish Book Award. You can find out more about his comedy, books, and upcoming tour at, and sign up for his weekly newsletter, Hebrew Is Magic, to learn more about the hidden life lessons in Hebrew words.  

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