top of page

Parshas Beshalach (Shabbos Shirah) 5784

ה' איש מלחמה ה' שמו ... נחית בחסדך עם זו גאלת נהלת בעזך אל נוה קדשך וגו' (טו-ג,יג)

Sapir Cohen, 29, was part of the last group of hostages released during the week-long truce between Israel and Hamas in November. For 55 days, she languished in captivity in Gaza. She was kidnapped alongside her fiancee Sasha Trufanov, and a few members of his family. After her release, she revealed more details about her abduction and captivity including the perek of Tehillim that she began reciting 30 days before that fateful Simchas Torah.

“A few months ago, I felt like something bad was going to happen to me,” Sapir related after her release. “I thought that maybe I was coming down with some illness. And actually, I did find out that I had some type of virus. I was told to recite a certain perek of Tehillim every day for 30 days. The 30th day was on Shabbos, October 7th. I said this perek every day, and one day I started noticing the words and they weren’t about refuah - the perek speaks about war, that Hashem should save me. And I thought to myself, why am I davening this? What war am I davening to be saved from?”

The perek she was told to say was Kapital 27 - “L’Dovid Hashem Oiry.” The words she read literally jumped out at her: "בקרב עלי מרעים לאכל את בשרי צרי ואיבי לי המה כשלו ונפלו. אם תחנה עלי מחנה לא יירא לבי אם תקום עלי מלחמה בזאת אני בוטח" - “When evildoers draw near to me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies against me - they stumbled and fell. If a camp encamps against me, my heart shall not fear; if a war should rise against me, in this, I trust.” Sapir noted later, “Much of this perek speaks about war. And thank you Hashem that I was saved from the hands of the evildoers.”

On Friday, October 6th, Sapir, a resident of Kiryat Ata in northern Israel, traveled to Kibbutz Nir Oz to visit relatives. She woke up at 6:30 on Shabbos morning and heard loud booms on a scale she had never heard before. A few hours later the terrorists arrived at Kibbutz Nir Oz. Sapir had rolled herself inside a blanket and hid under a bed. “They entered the house and found my hiding place. They rolled me out from the blanket,” Sapir continued. “I understood that it was better for me to get up and go. I got up and they took me out of the house and put me on a motorcycle with two terrorists.

“We began the trip and when we entered Gaza, the streets were full of people who came to video me. I looked at all the cameras with my head held high. I told myself that at least my parents would see me and realize that I was abducted. It was bedlam. We entered the Gaza Strip, everyone was screeching - some had sticks, some had cigarettes. They came close to me and screamed at me and began beating me. I started protecting myself with my hands. They (the terrorists) put a shirt over my head to try to protect me - they needed hostages and stopped them from hurting me so that I’ll arrive there alive.

“During captivity, there were days when people didn’t know if they would be able to survive,” she said. “The tunnels there are crazy things. Thank G-d, I was saved and I hope they will return the abductees who stayed there.

“I was very optimistic from the first minute there,” Sapir continued. “Maybe it was the perek of Tehillim - I kept smiling and laughing the whole time. One day, I saw one of the terrorists with a memorial candle that had ‘Sapir’ written on it. I got angry at him because I thought I had formed a connection with them. I said to him: ‘Why? Why did you write my name?’ And he said: ‘I don’t like you. You’re my enemy. I don’t like you. But when you’re here, for some reason, there’s light.’ I said to myself: ‘Hashem Yishmor, I heard this from a terrorist.’”

Sapir Cohen was released on November 30, 2023, from captivity as part of an extension of a temporary cease-fire deal brokered by Qatar and the United States, between Hamas and Israel. Sasha Trufanov is still held in captivity r”l.

Sapir Cohen, Yelena Trufanov and Yelena’s mother, Irena Tati, arrived at the Western Wall a few days after their release to recite prayers of thanksgiving. Sapir, the fiancee of Yelena’s son Sasha, said the Hagomel tefillah and the three women recited Mizmor LeTodah on the miracle of their release. They also sang the song “Acheinu” as a hopeful prayer for those still in captivity. Yelena’s husband, Vitaly, was murdered by Hamas on Oct. 7th. Hashem Yikom Damav.



bottom of page