Arik Einstein, one of Israel’s most important and influential musicians, passed away last week. At a ceremony at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv before the funeral, Prime Minister Netanyahu said:
הָיִיתָ הַגָּדוֹל מִכֻּלָּם, הַזַּמָּר הַלְּאֻמִּי.
You were the greatest of them all, our (the) national singer.
I grew up listening to cassettes of his music in my father’s car. And what is perhaps the best-known of his songs, עוּף גּוֹזָל listen and repeat – Fly Away, Little Bird (here), my father sang at my brother’s Bar Mitzvah.
עוף listen and repeat in the context of the song title is an imperative (command) form of the active-simple פָּעַל verb of the hollow variety, לָעוּף listen and repeat – to fly. We use לעוף to refer to the flying of a bird or other animal, or an object traveling without an engine. To fly when referring to a plane, in contrast, is לָטוּס listen and repeat – a verb of the same variety as לעוף.
In Arik Einstein’s song, you’ll find both לעוף and לטוס referring to the flight of the metaphorical bird. That’s poetic license.
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