The Torah tells us that when Moses was called by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, his reaction was “who am I?” that I should assume such an awesome role. Moses was a modest man, even as he was passionate for the cause of justice, and for realizing the worthy destiny of the people he was called upon to lead. And Moses was a wise man, able to negotiate with those who would repeatedly challenge his leadership, and prevail in his purpose.
Today we begin a new chapter in the history of America. Our people have called upon Donald Trump to lead us, even as he seems to lack the qualities of a Moses or of other leaders who have exhibited both intellectual and emotional qualities that enabled them to identify with the people they were entrusted to lead. Rather than exhibiting the quality of modesty that characterized Moses, our new president appears to be egotistical, narcissistic, and very thin-skinned. And we ask: “Will he be able to rise above these personality limitations to lead a troubled world at a tumultuous time? Will he be able to make good on the promises that he articulated, not only ‘to make America great again,’ but to take charge of a society and world that knows so much anguish and despair?”
Yes, domestically, too many people are on the fringes of our society. Poor paying jobs, expensive health insurance, a lack of security for their future, racial conflict–these are among the challenges that our new president will have to confront if our country is to become “great.” And internationally, what a “mess” we face as wars and strife persist throughout the world. Will our president be wise enough to deal effectively with Russia and China? Will he be “good” for Israel, and at the same time help bring about a solution to the “Palestinian problem?”
Elie Wiesel said that “the worst sin a Jew can commit is to despair.” Those sentiments seem appropriate to this time in history. May it be that our new president will find within his heart and mind those qualities of modesty and wisdom that mark a great leader. And as our prayer book states: “Grant our leaders the wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion….May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit.”