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An Open Letter From Yossi Green: מוציא אסירים ופודה ענוים – The Story Behind the Song

A while ago, when I was sitting with the Munkatcher Rebbe, שליט”א, with regard to some important advice I required about a life matter, he suddenly turned to me and said, “I would like to request from you a new song on the words:

מוציא אסירים ופודה ענוים ועוזר דלים
.ועונה לעמו ישראל בעת שועם אליו
This request was in many ways startling and very different and way more urgent than his usual requests to me for songs.  

Let me explain:  It has been about ten years now that I have been privileged to enjoy a unique and precious relationship with the Rebbe.  This relationship is based on songs that he asks me to write for him from time to time.  At certain times of the year, before a YomTov or a family Simcha I will suddenly get a call from his Gabai who will tell me that The Rebbe asked if I can write a song for him on specific lyrics that he spells out for me.  At times, sadly, when he experiences great sadness and pain at the plight of a member of Klal Yisroel he will spell out a specific lyric and request a song, as well.  He then communicates to me the new lyrics along with an explanation as to why he would like the new melody on these lyrics specifically.  Most of the time, this request and explanation is so inspiring that I can sit right down at the piano and complete my new mission speedily, בעזרת השי”ת.  I then contact the Gabai and get the song over to him.  It then usually takes about an hour and I will get clear feedback from the Rebbe whether I did or did not interpret the lyrics according to what he had wanted.  At times, I will write a melody that does not interpret what the Rebbe had in mind and I have to go back to the drawing board (piano) and rework it a number of times until he will accept it.  As can be imagined, when the Rebbe finally does accept the new song, I feel incredibly happy, elated and honored.  And so, this process has been going on for about ten years now.  This past Chanuka when he asked me for a song on the lyrics ויהי נועם, and accepted it, the number of songs written this way came to be higher than 50, ב”ה.
Now for the big question, what then happens with these songs?  Most of the time the Rebbe will keep these songs privately to himself, listening to them at his discretion.  It is only on some rare occasions that he will share them with his people who then learn the song and sing them at his request.
As is well known to most, the Munkatcher Rebbe is constantly sought after for his blessing and advice on the many issues experienced by our community.  People from all over the Jewish World will appear at his doorstep asking for a few precious moments to sit with him and after a short while walking out from this meeting greatly relieved and comforted.  It was one day that I myself needed some important advice and a Brocho on a major issue going on in my life and I had gone in with a Kvitel to speak with him, when he suddenly turned to me and with a shocking weariness in his voice and a heavy heart he said “We need a song on the above mentioned words as a Tefila, as well as a celebration for when the Tefilois will אי”ה be accepted.”  I had been aware of the Rebbe’s personal involvement with many authorities on behalf of those in Klal Yisroel who were facing these difficult situations, but this time I clearly saw in his eyes the pain he felt at the injustices and difficulties of this specific incarceration.  I promised that I will get to work immediately and get back to him as soon as possible.  I then wrote the song and in a rare moment he called upon his people to learn the song and even danced his Hakofois right after using this song over and over again.
Then came two nights ago, this past Tuesday night, the 8th night of Chanuka, when he was lighting the candles and he suddenly and mysteriously turned to those around him and he demanded they sing the song with him!  The voices were thundering out the words again and again מוציא אסירים ופודה ענווים ועוזר דלים ועונה לעמו בעת שועם אליו.  I don’t know what the Rebbe understood, what the Rebbe knew, but I can tell you this that when I heard the news less than 24 hours later that R’ Sholom Mordechai שליט”א was being released, I immediately called up the Rebbe and asked if he would allow me to release the song all over.  He answered with an emphatic YES, as if to say, “Why else did we have this song if not for this moment!”
The Ribono Shel Oilom should hasten our גאולה שלימה, as it was evident last night how quickly Klal Yisroel united around this sweet Yid, who had captured our hearts for years already, and celebrated all over the world in a celebration that will continue to go so for a long time אי”ה.  The Simcha evident everywhere for the ease of the plight of ONE YID is a clear herald to what we will experience when the final גאולה שלימה arrives soon soon…
במהרה בימינו אמן