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Top Israeli rabbi calls Obama a king worthy of a Jew’s blessing

By Mason White 7:03 PM March 21, 2013
Rabbo Ovadia Yosef 

By: John Roberts
An Israeli rabbi has called the U.S. president, a king worthy of every Jew’s blessing, according to press reports in Israel.

Those of the Jewish faith who have the privilege to personally see President Obama during his trip to Israel, should make a special blessing for kings. He is, after all, a “kind of king in our time,” Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said, in remarks translated and reported by several U.S. media outlets.

Rabbi Yosef’s statements come in the context of an answer he gave to students who wanted to know how to act during Obama’s visit in Israel. The rabbi called it a “mitzvah” or a good deed and religious duty to try to personally attend one of the stops of Obama.

He also said that Obama has the authority to pardon those sentenced to death. Therefore, the president is considered a king in our time. He can also declare war on an enemy state and those lucky enough to be able to visit with the president should say a specific blessing, called “He who gives dignity to the flesh and blood.” The rabbi said the blessing should only be said by those personally seeing Obama and not by those who see him on television.

The rabbi also said that the special blessing also applies to those meeting first lady Michelle Obama. Anyone who visits with her in person must also give special thanks, the rabbi said.

Ovadia Yosef previously served as the Sephardic chief rabbi in Israel.