Yours has been a unique rise to power. Your candidacy was unconventional, your manner disruptive and innovative; your path, unlikely.
You are the topic of every conversation I hear up close and afar. Some are full of excitement and others worry in their wondering anticipation.
I am no different than my fellow citizens. I also wonder and worry and hope. But today, I….and I invite the people I lead, to pray for you.
Dear President Trump,
My Tradition encourages me to pray for our appointed and elected government leaders.
You are indeed the President of our United States. You were elected by the system, which has elected presidents since our inception as a Nation. The success of your work would be a good thing for my family, people and me. I will not participate in denying your legitimacy as our president because I have abhorred the actions of those who have done so to President Obama the past eight years. Obstruction for the sake of itself eats away at our already ailing democracy.
Because I am an American, I will utilize my liberties to let you know, vociferously, when I support you and let you know even more so when I don’t. I will mobilize every resource at my disposal to advocate for you when I believe you make our lives better and will mobilize even more so when I believe that you are leading us astray. Not for the sake of political partisanship, but for the sake of good and decent ethics and values.
But, for today, I do what my people have done over the millennia. I pray for you, President Trump.
I pray for the health of your body, Mr. President. I pray for your health so that you can endure the rigors of running our country. I pray that you sleep enough to be clear minded, eat balanced enough so you have the energy to make it through each day; and take care of your physical vessel, so that you have the fortitude to navigate the weariness of being demanded in ways you have never experienced before in your life. So, Mr. President, I pray for your physical health.
I pray for the well being of your family as well, Mr. President. You have sacrificed a lot of your time, as you have built your business and now you will be pulled away in the most taxing ways. I pray that your youngest son is able to maintain the same level of privacy and respect children of the White House have received in past years. I pray that your wife and adult children will love and support you in ways, which help you serve our country. They, too, will sacrifice in the next four years. They too will be under acute scrutiny. I pray their boundaries are maintained and protected. I pray they are able to maintain integrity in your family business while maintaining the same distinction of integrity and honor in maintaining separation between government being government and business being business. Indeed, President Trump, I pray for your health and the health of your family.
I pray for the health of your mind, Mr. President. I pray that you are able to stay focused on that which counts the most. I pray that you are not diverted by the chaos that is politics. I pray that you are always able to prioritize what it is that counts most to the 300 million Americans you serve. I pray that you remember that you are now the leader of the Free World; that your words count in ways they have never counted before. The language, which leaves your lips, is not superfluous; indeed, it will move markets, stop and start wars and open and close businesses. Your verbiage will encourage people to either understand or dismiss one another; to believe in hope or cultivate our darkest impulses. I pray that you measure your words and be slower in your tweets. I petition that you pause more, wait before you respond and remember that we need you, not to entertain, but to inspire, create opportunity, cultivate partnership and make us believe that any of us can live at the top of towers overlooking Central Park.
I pray, President Trump that you remember that you have less to prove as a president and more to show as a human being. You have appeared on every newspaper and magazine, won prominent awards and mingled with those on high. I pray for your clarity of mind to see that your finest accomplishment would be for you to meld together the disaffected world into which you have tapped, with other parts of our nation who search for a better day. You could be more famous than you ever imagined if you but see all of us as made from the same Maker, the same primordial source, the same well of human beauty. I pray that your mind continually finds perspective and subtlety; diversity of opinion and character; varying scopes of knowledge and insight. You will need every single facet of your mind to work in sync and then you will be successful… and so will we.
Finally, I pray for your spirit, Mr. President. I pray that you let your soul be the biggest part of you. I pray that you are granted with depth of spirit in a manner which allows you develop the thickest skin of your life. People will continue to shoot arrows, but allow your spirit to be magnanimous and generous. A big spirit makes for a small ego. A small and healthy ego makes for a generous heart. A generous heart makes for a brave soul. A brave soul makes for openness of community. An open community makes for creative productivity. A productive nation will make for prosperity. Prosperity and love will make for a grateful nation. A grateful nation will make for a fulfilled president. And so, I pray that your soul become bigger than your ego and that your skin becomes thick…. toughness will come from a deep spirit; not from bravado.
Yes, I pray for your spirit. I pray for it to give birth to deep wisdom, discernment and insight. I pray for your spirit to be touched by all kinds of people, especially those who have been made to be afraid. I pray that your soul be touched by the sense of “otherness”. The “other” is you and me and everyone we know. A grand soul recognizes that difference can augment and not diminish. I pray that your spirit see underneath the surface; deep enough that you only deem anything or anyone evil when you have mined the depths of the matter. Protect us, please, but not at the cost of ripping apart our fabric. You are uniquely positioned to embrace the weak in a way which could change us for the better and forever. Your spirit can achieve all of that, Mr. President. So triple down on your own spirit and I will pray for it and you every day. That can be our covenant.
I didn’t vote for you, Mr. President. But, you are the president of the United States. And thus, you are my president. You can change my life for the better. You can change our fractured country for the better. You can change my family’s life for the better. You can change our world for the better.
I don’t yet believe in you, but please don’t be offended or get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I don’t pray every day for your body, mind and spirit.
I pray for you, Mr. President. I pray from the very bottom of my own mind, body and spirit.
May my prayers be answered.
And may God Bless You and the United States of America.
Matthew D. Gewirtz is the Senior Rabbi at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, New Jersey. He is the author of The Gift of Grief: Finding Peace, Transformation and Renewed Life after Great Sorrow? (Random House). A strong advocate of social justice, Matt Gewirtz is a founding executive committee member of the Newark Coalition for Hope and Peace, an interfaith organization of Jews, Christians and Muslims that is committed to ending gang violence in Newark. Matt Gewirtz strives to find joy and meaning in his daily life and is committed to helping do the same for others. His greatest joy comes from his wife, Lauren and their three beautiful children.