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יאסוף זרועים (Ofra Haza lyrics - שיר עם תימני)

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by inquisitivenovice, May 24, 2014.

  1. inquisitivenovice New Member

    Hi All,
    I hope you can help. I got completely mesmerised by the late Ofra Haza's music in my teens and now have somehow reverted I guess.
    I now would like to understand more about the meaning of the lyrics in Eshal; I have google translated it etc, but it just won't do; I am sure she is singing about love and connection and spiritual guidance, but if any of you could be so kind as to interpret it for me I would be so grateful.

    I think יאסוף זרועים, יאסוף זרועים יאסוף זרועים, יאסוף זרועים is about "reap what you saw" (in a good way!) but honestly, I would like an interpretation as opposed to a translation.

    Apologies in advance if I sound demanding, it's just curiosity. And thank you.

    אשאל אלוהייך על השבויים
    שבויים, שבויים

    יאסוף זרועים, יאסוף זרועים
    יאסוף זרועים, יאסוף זרועים
    Last edited: May 25, 2014
  2. Albert Schlef Senior Member

    First, a comment: The words of many of Haza's songs are a mix of traditional/liturgical poems (often just two or three sentences taken out of the much, much longer original) with some modern sentences thrown in.

    The traditional part of that song is:

    אֶשְׁאַל אֱלֹהַי יִגְאֲלָה שְׁבוּיִים
    יֶאְסוֹף זְרוּיִים

    So, as you see, you didn't hear these words well. In English they'd sound:

    esh'al elohai yig'ala shevuim, ye'sof zeruyim

    (Or, in Yemenite pronunciation: ash'al alohai yir'alo shavuyim, ya'sof zaruyim.)

    The translation:

    "I ask of my God [that He] may set free the captives, [that He] gather up the scattered."

    In other words, the author is asking God to end the exile of His people. It's not an uncommon motif in Yemenite poems (the conditions in that diaspora were especially tough). The exiled, who are scattered to the four winds, are seen as captives in foreign lands (under the mercy of their "host" nations).


    A word-for-word translation:

    אֶשְׁאַל - I ask.
    אֱלֹהַי - my God.
    יִגְאֲלָה - may set free (it's יגאל, "will set free", with ה appended to make it a beseeching.)
    שְׁבוּיִים - captives (שבוי, in plurals).
    יֶאְסוֹף - will gather.
    זְרוּיִים - scattered/dispersed (זרוי, in plurals).

    (OTOH, זרועים (plural of זרוע) is quite a different word, meaning "sown", which does not appear in the song.)

    (I see that you're asking for "interpretation as opposed to a translation": I think it's clear from the last line that the "here" is the diaspora. Me, being dense, I never understood poems, so I'll leave this to others.)
    Last edited: May 25, 2014
  3. MuttQuad

    MuttQuad Senior Member

    New York, NY
    English - AmE
    about "reap what you saw"

    The correct expression in English is "reap what you sow," which means to harvest what grows from the seeds you have planted.
  4. origumi Senior Member

    אשאל אלהי יגאלה שבויים by Rabbi Shalom Shabazi son of Yosef, 17th c., who signs (by acronyms) the piyyut as "אני יוסף" (also refers to אני יוסף אחיכם, Genesis 45:4).
  5. Albert Schlef Senior Member

    (I don't want to nitpick, but according to piyut the author is יהוסף בן ישראל. BTW, I see that piyut.org has, on the second line, "מְכֻנָּה", whereas benyehuda.org has "מְכֻנֶּה". The piyut.org version is more accurate: that's the form Yemenites use for the passive of pu'al.)
  6. origumi Senior Member

    Interesting point. Different sources on the Web attribute the piyyut to either one of them. According to the Ben Yehuda project
    "השירים המופיעים בעמוד זה מיוחסים לר' שלום שבזי, אך חלקם נכתבו בידי משוררים שונים בני יהדות תימן ששמם אינו ידוע."
    Wikipedia also mentions Shabazi as the author, but I found it only in a footnote. According to IBA (קול ישראל) Shabazi authored the tune.

    I guess you're correct and it's יהוסף בן ישראל, a little earlier than Shabazi. If someone can find a reliable source - that would be nice.
    Last edited: May 26, 2014
  7. Passion4Languages New Member

    Italian/English(US) - bilingual

    can I ask you where have you found the lyrics in Hebrew? And is there a good website where I can find an English (or Spanish or French) translation that makes sense and is not a collection of words Google just pasted together?

    I myself got completely mesmerized by this song in my teens, and for some strange reason I decided a couple of hours ago to take a trip down memory lane, but I haven't been lucky in my search. I will also begin a Hebrew course in September, therefore I am interested in getting the text in Hebrew as well.

    Thank you!
  8. Albert Schlef Senior Member

    You can find it the same way you find lyrics for English songs: just type some of its words (in Hebrew) into google.

    You generaly can't, unless somebody liked some song and translated it himself and uploaded the translation somewhere.

    But you can ask for a translation: here, or in other places (I'm also visiting "Yahoo Answers"), and people will generally be glad to help.

    I've stumbled upon two sites with a few translated songs (1, 2), but there are tens of thousands of Hebrew/Israeli songs so such sites don't provide a general solution.

    You should have just typed "אשאל אלהי" in google for the lyrics (of the original poem).

    For the music, in YouTube: type "ofra haza eshal". You can find other renditions there. I personally prefer the more traditional renditions to Ofra's altered ones. But it's not too easy to find good renditions on YouTube: "mizrahim" have a tendency to ruin nice songs with electric guitars, organs, excessive drumming, and a lot of noise. One has to be familiar with the "scene" a bit to find pleasant renditions.

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