Judaism has blessings for just about everything–smelling fragrant trees, seeing a rainbow, hearing good news, hearing bad news, encountering a friend one hasn’t seen in a year, and more. There is a blessing that one says upon seeing a non-Jewish king, and some would say that this extends to seeing a (non-Jewish) head of state, as well.

The blessing is:

ברוך אתה ×”’ אלוקינו מלך העולם שנתן מכבודו לבשר ודם
Blessed are You, God our Deity, Ruler of the universe, who has given of His glory to flesh and blood.

Rabbi Sue Fendrick has recently mused (evidently inspired by Elaine Ruben in DC) about whether this blessing would be appropriate to say upon seeing a head of state on TV, and, as such, whether it makes sense to say upon watching someone become a head of state. I will leave it to your discretion to decide whether or not this works.

In any case, I wish much luck and success to President-Elect Obama, who is inheriting quite a heavy load. And I also wish well to his most ardent supporters, who may yet have to learn that as intelligent and charming and, it seems, capable as the man is–he is, after all, only flesh and blood, and shouldn’t be expected to accomplish more than any mere mortal can.

And, of course, happy birthday, Dr. King. Thank you for everything–for being the man who spoke out for civil rights and for sanitation workers, against Vietnam and for all poor people in America. Thank you for seeing the big picture, and leading us to it.

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