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Endnote: Dreaming of Redemption

Riki Goldstein

“He said, ‘A new guy by the name of Yaakov Shwekey.’ I was a little upset. ‘Can’t you sell it to someone a little more well-known?’”

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

B aruch Levine’s “Chasof” soared far beyond the beis medrash

As Chanukah evening descends on Jerusalem, the chilly streets fill with the sounds of song and prayer, as the glass-boxed menorahs outside many homes and yeshivos are lit. Baruch Levine remembers going outside to light the menorah at shkiah during his years at Yeshivas Toras Moshe, then located on Shmuel Hanavi Street.

“That was the first time I realized that while the first four stanzas of Maoz Tzur depict the exile, the last one is different — it’s a plea for Hashem to remove us from the final galus. That realization made me think. After lighting our menorahs outside, we would go back into yeshivah to finish second seder, and then there was mussar seder before supper. On one of those nights, with the Mesillas Yesharim in front of me, I composed ‘Chasof.’ I guess the Rosh Yeshivah assumed I was learning mussar….”

A year later, when Levine was learning in Yeshivas Mir, someone sent “Chasof” to producer Yochi Briskman.

“When Yochi got back to me that he wanted to buy the song, I asked ‘Who do you have in mind for it?’ He said, ‘A new guy by the name of Yaakov Shwekey.’ I was a little upset. ‘Can’t you sell it to someone a little more well-known?’ But Yochi was absolutely confident in his new artist. ‘Don’t worry, he’s going to be good. The song will be famous.’ ” The song was featured on Yaakov Shwekey’s 2001 debut album, Shomati.

“Chasof” took its place as a favorite Chanukah and kumzitz song, and Levine has never looked back. 

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 689)


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