We Will First Begin To Spread Joy
By Mrs. R. Gershowitz
celebrate the month of Adar – "When Adar arrives we increase in joy"
– we present interviews with people who bring joy all year round – musicians
and composers * A discussion of Chassidic music, songs of Moshiach, and the
performers’ connection to the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach * Part 2 of 2
(Click here for Part 1)
no need to introduce Avi Piamenta. His face and appearance proclaim Chabad,
Moshiach, the Rebbe.
years, Avi appeared with his brother Yossi as the Piamentas, but since Avi moved
to Eretz Yisroel he performs solo at Chabad events and weddings. In the more
than thirty years of his career, Avi has produced dozens of tapes in which he
sings and plays the flute.
do people think of your Moshiach songs?
the Rebbe told us we are the last generation of Galus and the first
generation of Geula, he said this as a prophecy and asked that we
publicize hinei zeh Moshiach ba. I feel that as the Rebbe’s shaliach,
I must publicize the besuras ha’Geula and the identity of the goel
through my songs. Sometimes, when you convey the Moshiach message in a direct
way it is met with opposition, but when it is conveyed through song, it’s more
readily accepted with love and joy.
was asked to perform on a television program that is broadcast on Motzaei
Shabbos, and I was thrilled to see not-yet-religious performers singing along
with me about Moshiach and Geula. It’s the best proof that "banim
atem l’Hashem Elokeichem," for every Jew yearns for Moshiach, and
when this desire is aroused, he says "We Want Moshiach Now" with all
have many songs about Moshiach, like "Kalu Kol Ha’kitzin,"
which includes the words "Yechi Adoneinu." Even the
titles of my tapes have a Moshiach message: "Simchas Ha’Geula"
and "Piduseinu Tatzmi’ach."
like these songs, but the song that is sung at all Chabad gatherings which
people love is "HaRebbe M’Lubavitch Hu Moshiach - V’Hu Yigaleinu."
The song has an interesting history. My friend Moshe Yess came from Montreal to
Eretz Yisroel and we began working on a new tape together. Suddenly he got up
and began humming the words "HaRebbe M’Lubavitch Hu Moshiach."
We sang it over and over again and while still singing it, we went to the studio
and recorded it. Within a short time, the song became a hit among Anash,
the Tmimim, and the public at large.
the years you’ve had a strong connection with the Rebbe. Can you tell us
something about your experiences with the Rebbe related to your music?
connection with the Rebbe also extends to my music, but I’ll tell you one
thing. Before each trip for shows abroad I would give a note into the Rebbe and
ask for his bracha. Then I would see miracles and wonders.
director of the Chabad House at U.C.L.A. invited Yossi and me to perform one
afternoon. When we began performing, we saw a tremendous hisorerus among
the students who loved the Jewish music. You could see how their Jewish spark
was ignited and how, for the first time in their lives, they were able to
experience traditional Jewish music. When I saw how touched they were, I decided
to take action.
the end of the performance, I announced that if any Jewish boy wanted to get on
stage and put on t’fillin, we would help him. I couldn’t have
imagined what would happen in the moments to follow that announcement. Even
today, years later, I am still moved. A long line of young boys extended from
the stage. Some of them had ponytails, some of them were shaven bald. Some were
dressed in colorful, weird clothes. They all stood there, rolled up their
sleeves and waited curiously and excitedly to fulfill the mitzva which
they had only heard about moments before. Yossi and I stood there for hours and
put t’fillin on with each one.
do you think of Chassidic music today? Does it deserve the title
I say may surprise your readers, but I think that it will be the nonreligious
world that will return the Jewish sound to Chassidic music. Klezmer music is
popular today. We find many singers who want to sing in a modern pop style, but
the world out there is interested in authentic Chassidic music and they ask,
"What is that lovely music? Why don’t you play it?"
are styles that are fads and then there are timeless classics. True Chassidic
music is eternal. That’s not to say that today’s Chassidic music is not
good. Perhaps it’s pleasant to listen to, but like fashions that change, it’s
must remember that there’s only a fine line between "modern Chassidic
music" that still has a Jewish flavor and music that is just a cheap
imitation of non-Jewish music. Chassidic singers must be really careful in order
not to be pulled into it.
the new sound, in my home, my children and I love to listen to and play niggunei
Chabad, melodies that speak to the soul. In conclusion, I say to my fellow
musicians: You’ve got to prepare, because in a little while we will be able to
play in the Beis HaMikdash – Beis Moshiach. So let’s
prepare properly, as the Rebbe says, by living with Moshiach, because in a
little while, we’ll be moving on to the real thing.
Banet is one of the pillars of Chassidic music in the past thirty years. More
than a singer, he is a gifted composer, and is also the court composer for the
Seret Vizhnitz Chassidus based in Chaifa. He has produced dozens of tapes in
which the Ranenu Chassidim Choir sings his songs. The common denominator of all
his tapes is that his music is authentically Chassidic.
today, after dozens of years of composing, he still composes new Chassidic
melodies, songs of the soul like niggunei simcha and uplifting marches.
you have Moshiach songs in your repertoire, and if yes, how do people like them?
certainly do. I composed many songs connected to Moshiach, Yemos Ha’Moshiach,
and l’Asid lavo, such as "Ani Maamin" and "Ki
Nicham Hashem Tziyon." I think that the belief and yearning for
Moshiach that the Rebbe implanted in Klal Yisroel influenced us all a
lot, even those who don’t realize that their yearning is a result of the Rebbe’s
influence. There’s no question that the Rebbe’s sichos about Moshiach
were absorbed – at least subconsciously – by us all.
you have a personal connection with the Rebbe and Chabad?
am a Seret-Vizhnitz Chassid, but I had the z’chus of being with the
Rebbe twice on Yud-Tes Kislev. I was greatly impressed and moved. It was ten
years ago, and to this day I do not forget the wonderful divrei Torah the
Rebbe said and the powerful Chassidic song that swept the crowd.
learned a lot about Chabad when I performed many times at Chabad gatherings
alongside the Chassid R’ Reuven Dunin. Before or after the singing I would
listen to Rabbi Dunin as he farbrenged or explained the Rebbe’s sichos,
and that’s how I got to know more about the Rebbe and Chassidus Chabad.
do you think of today’s Chassidic music? Do you think it deserves the title
am happy that lately there are the beginnings of a trend towards the songs of
yesteryear. The songs we still have from earlier generations are Chassidic
songs. There might be the occasional big hit, but after two weeks or a month it’s
forgotten. Authentic Chassidic songs will remain forever.
a commentary on the verse "K’chu m’zimras ha’aretz"
(Literally, "Take from the branches of the land"): that a Jew has to
put kedusha into and elevate the zimra, the song of the land.