Then We Will First Begin To Spread Joy
By Mrs. R. Gershowitz

To 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)

R’ Avrohom Piamenta

There’s no need to introduce Avi Piamenta. His face and appearance proclaim Chabad, Moshiach, the Rebbe.

For 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.

What do people think of your Moshiach songs?

When 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.

I 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 his heart.

I 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."

People 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.

Over 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?

My 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.

The 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.

Towards 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.

What do you think of Chassidic music today? Does it deserve the title "Chassidic?"

What 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?"

There 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 only temporary.

We 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.

Despite 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 HaMikdashBeis 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.

Rabbi Chaim Banet

Chaim 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.

Even today, after dozens of years of composing, he still composes new Chassidic melodies, songs of the soul like niggunei simcha and uplifting marches.

Do you have Moshiach songs in your repertoire, and if yes, how do people like them?

I 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.

Did you have a personal connection with the Rebbe and Chabad?

I 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.

I 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.

What do you think of today’s Chassidic music? Do you think it deserves the title "Chassidic?"

I 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.

There’s 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.


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...

-- R’ Avrohom Piamenta

There’s no question that the Rebbe’s sichos about Moshiach were absorbed – at least subconsciously – by us all.

-- Rabbi Chaim Banet


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