Praise anthem explodes onto secular Israeli radio

Rising Israeli star is torn between enormous success and remaining humble before the One who gave him this gift.

By David Shishkoff | | Topics: Faith
Israeli singer Ishay Ribo performing live at a ceremony marking Remembrance Day for Israels fallen soldiers and victims of terror, at the Sultans Pool in Jerusalem, on May 3_ 2022. Photo by Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90
Israeli singer Ishay Ribo performing live at a ceremony marking Remembrance Day for Israels fallen soldiers and victims of terror, at the Sultans Pool in Jerusalem, on May 3_ 2022. Photo by Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90

One of the most intriguing and inspiring things we see here in Israeli culture is when spiritual hunger in the mainstream secular Israeli populace is suddenly revealed. One way this becomes obvious is when secular Israelis are drawn to certain Orthodox Jewish singers and songs of belief in God.

Ishay [Jesse] Ribo was born in France and immigrated to Israel as a young boy with his parents. He learned in an Orthodox school (yeshiva) where no one could understand his love for writing songs and playing them on his guitar.

No matter. He continued to write lyrics in Hebrew and invent melodies to accompany his words. Eventually his talent started coming to light during his army service and rocketed soon after, when influential secular Israeli singers discovered him.

In a heart-rending prayer song he wrote how only God can heal his pain.

Now we are excited to report on the praise anthem he wrote during the days – wouldn’t you know it –  of Covid-19 lockdown. The song’s rhyme and meaning are so catchy and transcendent that the song has become arguably his biggest hit. It was the #1 most played song on ALL Israeli radio stations during the Covid year of 2021, according to the Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers in Israel (Akum).

That also tells us something about how people’s hearts can become open and “hungry” in times of real crisis.

The Ultimate Cause – the Cause of Causes – “Sibat haSibot”  

The song we feature here is called “Sibat haSibot” in Hebrew. Translation: “The Ultimate Cause” or “The Cause of Causes.” As such it is not only a praise song, but also a mini-encapsulation of classic logical arguments for the existence of God as the First Cause and Author of Existence.

Here is the main excerpt of the bridge and chorus that sent the song soaring:

…Only open for us,

The gates of believing, 

The gates of perceiving, that

We have no King but You…


Only You, are the Ultimate Cause, 

Behind all that is, beyond all that was;

And only You, are worthy of praise,

All of the nights, and all of the days.


Only You…

A viral hit

The song has so far garnered over 27 million views in its official YouTube version, over 100,000 likes, and over 5000 comments, including these:

  • “I’ve listened to it 20 times every day, I love it! We have no other King but Him.”
  • “Thanks to HaShem [God]. Thank you for the miracles He as done for us in these days of rocket fire…”
  • “Amazing song… and the content [!] May His name be praised and exalted, Only the holy one blessed be He is worthy of our praise…”
  • “There is just something beautiful about a Judean man dancing and singing in his native homeland עם ישראל חי”
  • “Where does this sound come from? Every single song of yours, makes me cry or have goosebumps…”

In a rare interview and documentary (in Hebrew), the secular Channel 12 interviewer said:

“While the lyrics of his songs all speak of faith, even the secular population has fallen in love with this young ultra-Orthodox singer…  He would come back to the little music room in his basement after performing before huge audiences and wonder whether the success was really good for him… This roller coaster [of emotions] peaked when the song Sibat haSibot exploded.”

Ishay shared in the interview:

“It felt too big for me. That there was this huge thing that I didn’t know how to carry.”

When asked how he deals with matters of success and ego, Ishay said:

“… It’s not that I don’t believe in myself, but ego in my eyes is unnecessary and dangerous.”

Regarding the timing and inspiration for this song, he said:

“When ‘Sibat haSibot’ went on the air, everything was less clear [due to the Covid situation]. In the middle of that breaking, suddenly I felt with certainty, that there is One greater than us who is still causing the world to spin around.”

When asked whether he might ever write lyrics that are not religious, Ishay replied:

“No. No, because it’s something I received on myself from an early age, and I believe that this gift that HaShem sent me is related to that commitment. It feels like my offering or sacrifice to HaShem at this point, and I don’t want to touch it.”

I never dreamed…

In another interview (with English subtitles), Ishay said when asked how he deals with the success:

“If we’re being honest, even I, as Ishay the teenager, with ambitions and dreams to succeed with my songs, to perform, and to make a living from this… I never dreamed I would reach this stature and this position… I don’t always succeed in thinking this [humble] way, but I do try to aspire to remember…”

He added that sometimes he himself is surprised at the songs that he writes and ascribes them to the help he receives from heaven.

Give the song a listen. Even without understanding all the words you can understand the heart.


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5 responses to “Praise anthem explodes onto secular Israeli radio”

  1. Robert's World says:

    If one didn’t know, this song (at least the words you have translated) would pass in many of Gentile Jesus’ believing congregations, albeit with likely a different type of tune.

    Such an interesting guy – just doesn’t fit the “ultra – orthodox” label.

    • Clark Gear says:

      Maybe it wouldn’t be so strange had gentiles realized they followed a Jewish messiah, and were actually either regathered of the dispersed of Israels northern kingdom or adopted into the covenant relationship,

      remember the Apostle to the nations teaching in Ephesians 2 11,12Therefore remember that once you+, the Gentiles, were at that time far from Messiah, excluded from citizenship in the commonwealth of Israel [Gen. 35:11; 48:4; 2Mac. 4:11; 8:17; 13:14], and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. You+ are called physically “uncircumcision” by those called physically “circumcision” in the flesh, made by hands. 13But now in Messiah Yeshua, you+ who once were far off have become near in the blood of the Messiah. 14For he is our peace [Is. 57:19], who made both one, and took down the middle wall of the fence.

  2. Clark Gear says:

    We pray for their fulness, for it will bring the dead to life and All Israel will be saved!

  3. Lois Heal Bright says:

    Thank you for sharing this song. I remember asking my mother at 4 years of age where God came from; she told me it was beyond my human understanding to know where God came from, but He had created a spirit within me through which I could know Him and respond to Him. I also wanted to know if Jesus was alive before He came to earth and she said, yes, He was with God and I learned how God sent Him to earth to shed His blood for our sins and how He rose again as our High Priest. Right then and there I wanted to tell God I believed Him.
    There is an innate longing in our hearts to know God, to know His love for us, His forgiveness and His presence within us.
    I pray this song will continue to draw people to look up and realize our God who loves us beyond measure–it is His love and His kindness that draws us to Him.

  4. David Shishkoff says:

    Thank you all for joining the conversation! This is one of the most surprising and uplifting songs we have heard in the Israeli music scene, for sure.

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