Word of the Day / Leshager: Is That a Rocket You’re Launching or Just an Envoy?

The same verb is used for firing the projectiles that constitute warfare and for sending a negotiator to try to end it.


After a five-hour meeting of the inner cabinet Friday night, Israel decided it would no longer attempt to reach a negotiated cease-fire with Hamas and therefore does not intend to leshager a delegation to Cairo, Haaretz reported Saturday.

Leshager means both “to send” – as in what one might do with a delegation, envoy or ambassador when one wants to negotiate an end to warfare – and to launch, as in what one does with the projectiles that can constitute said warfare.

Shagrir, the Hebrew for “ambassador,” is thought (at least according to the theory that seems most straightforward) to come from the same root as leshager, just as the German word for ambassador or envoy, Gesandter, comes from senden, meaning “to send.”

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Some like to argue over whether the solution to the conflict ought to be military or political, but the fact that the same Hebrew verb can refer both to sending a negotiator and to launching a rocket can be seen as an indication that maybe the political and the military are not quite as distinct from one another as some would like to believe.

All the same, would that it were as simple to launch a lasting peace as it is to send explosives. Or envoys, for that matter.

To contact Shoshana Kordova with column suggestions or other word-related comments, email her at shoshanakordova@gmail.com. For previous Word of the Day columns, click here