Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Prayers for the President

Yesterday, Rabbi Sharon Brous delivered a blessing at the 57th Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service in Washington, DC.  A rabbis' presence at a multicultural (interfaith) service does not always go without controversy, especially when its held in a church. (It could be considered a similar situation to Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks attendance to the Royal Wedding in 2011).  But one thing is for sure, such an event does call for prayer and blessings - as it is truly an amazing part of living in a democratically free country.

Here is the text she shared (and a video):

Elohei ha-ahavah, God of Love. Help us widen the boundaries of our hearts. You know us better than we know ourselves: the distinctions we make, the biases we hold, the ways in which we fail to manifest our greatest potential as we diminish ourselves and others with our impatience, lack of compassion and vision, lack of hope. Give depth to our faith; let our actions bear witness to the expansiveness of your mercy. Grant us the grace to love our neighbors and to love ourselves. We pray that you bring your presence among us, as light, as life and as holy inspiration.

I am always amazed at the creative abilities of those who compose prayers as I am a davener that is much more comfortable in a well worn siddur.  Also, I feel that spiritual meaning is naturally in Hebrew and thus personally feel disconnected by the English liturgy in prayers (I recognize that this is my personal stance).

One final comment - I think that the blessing shared above, although targeted to the Creator, captures the sentiment of the blessing codified by the Shulchan Orach to be recited upon seeing a non-Jewish king which may be appropriate to say upon seeing the newly inaugurated President:

ברוך אתה ה' אלוקינו מלך העולם שחלק מכבודו לבשר ודם 
Blessed are You, Lord our God, who has given from His glory to (humans of) flesh and blood.

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