Below: World Mizrachi’s Yom HaAtzmaut celebrations featuring Ishay Ribo, April 2023.

The Cup that Overflows 

An Interview with Ishay Ribo

Though he performs while wearing a kippah and with his tzitzit out, Ishay Ribo’s fans include Jews of every type. Nadav Gedaliah spoke with Ishay to get his thoughts on Israel’s social unrest. 

How do you see the situation in the country now?

These days everyone who has an opinion will find someone who will come and say the opposite. The difficulty is to accommodate the other person’s opinion even if you don’t agree with it. It stems from anger and frustration on both sides. I don’t come to judge anyone, and we have to accept that we in Am Yisrael are brothers. When there are problems, we should all do some self-introspection and stop reflexively blaming the other side.

How have you personally been impacted by the social unrest? 

Baruch Hashem, I don’t personally experience any social strife on a daily basis. It seems to me that the social problems we are having begin, primarily, with the media, which exacerbates the problems and then impacts the public. In real life, on a person to person level, people generally get along, and the challenges we have are not blown out of proportion. But if I only know what the media is saying about the social difficulties in Israel, I would think the problem is much more dire than it actually is. Fortunately, many people are beginning to realize that we shouldn’t accept the media’s version of our “divide” as if it were Torah from Sinai. Yes, it’s true that the situation is not ideal, but by speaking with one another we can draw closer to each other, and then we realize that the gap between us is not as great as it appears. Conversation builds relationships, so if we say “there is nothing to talk about,” we will widen the rift in our social fabric.

There is a precious Jew with whom I study Massechet Ta’anit once a week b’chavruta. I asked him what he thinks about the situation. He is a G-d-fearing Jew who is lit up by the Torah. He told me this: There was a mashgiach (spiritual guide) in a yeshiva who asked the rosh yeshiva how he could best influence the students. The rosh yeshiva told him: “You must be a kiddush cup that overflows. As you know, we have a custom to overfill the kiddush cup with wine, so that a little of the wine spills over the sides of the cup. The same is true when it comes to influencing and inspiring other people: when you fill your own vessel in a healthy and holy way, you will impact the environment and those around you.”

This is our job. Instead of saying that the “other people” are wrong, we must fill our own cups with an ayin tova (a good eye) and with giving others the benefit of the doubt. If we do this in all of our social circles, with those who are closer to us and those who are further from us, we will positively impact our environment and our broader society. I don’t see any other way. 

This interview was originally published in Hebrew in Olam Katan.

© 2024 World Mizrachi

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