Mazal Tov to the 45th president elect of the United States of America, Mr. Donald Trump! May you lead your people with light and liberty, so that they live up to their inalienable image of G-d, with the inalienable rights bestowed upon them by their Creator – the foundations that this country was built upon.
Where does one learn to become president? After all, there is no president school, no presidency apprenticeship, no Ph.D. in presidency at Harvard. This is especially true regarding Mr. Trump, the first president with no prior governing or military experience. This allows him to learn on the job, more than any president before him. The president learns to lead not in any school, but on the job.
This week’s Torah reading – Parshat Lech Lecha – is meant to be a guide for every aspiring leader, Jewish or not. It shows us how our forefather, Abraham, learned how to lead. How did Abraham learn this? By traveling. And what did that teach him? How to welcome guests and embrace all humankind into his home, which in turn taught him the secret of leadership.
This idea is further explained by a story about Rabbi Nachum of Chernobyl, who was famous for redeeming impoverished Jews imprisoned throughout Eastern Europe. Rabbi Nachum of Chernobyl, while sitting in prison, was taught a legendary explanation of the words of Lech Lecha – one that suggests that the best way to lead humankind is by being a human being, the best way to welcome a traveler is to travel.
This powerful lesson is one that our new president needs to embrace. A lesson that originates with Abraham – and is aptly captured by his descendant, poet Emma Lazarus, in “The New Colossus,” a sonnet inscribed on a bronze plaque in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.