Hours ago, a 70-year-old man stood on the steps of the Capitol, lifted his right hand in the air, and gave his word of honor to preserve, protect and defend the law of the land – the law that provides liberty and justice for all.
The president has at his disposal enormous power. He is commander-in-chief of the military, director of the federal government bureaucracies, has veto power over congress’ legislation and large discretion in conducting foreign affairs.
To ask of a person – any man or woman – to restrict the use of his power within the parameters of the law is no simple task. And yet, standing before a crowd of a million people and televised across the world, a man was called upon by the people who elected him to do just that; to rise to the challenge.
To be righteous and God-fearing. To protect the liberties of his country’s citizens even at the expense of personal power, popularity and fame.
When the Alter Rebbe was jailed in S. Petersburg in the late 18th century, a prison guard asked him how to understand Hashem’s question of Adam “Ayeko” – where are you?
He explained that Hashem is constantly asking of man where are you? Are you rising to the challenges I have presented to you?
Times are changing. Our community’s youth today are not its youth of the last decade or year. And as members of this community, we should look at the screen and the man being called upon to defend the nation and think to ourselves Ayeko?
Am I as a parent aware of the challenges my children face? Am I ensuring that I and the staff at the schools and Yeshivos my children attend equip my child with the knowledge he needs to shape his worldview in the ideas of Chassidus? Am I as a young person in this new emerging world ensuring that I properly understand the world I am in, the ideas I believe and the role God calls upon me to play in life? Am I rising to the challenge?
As the helicopter carrying the former president into obscurity minutes after he was the most powerful person on earth lifts off the grounds of Capitol Hill, let us reflect on how short our lives are, how easily we will disappear into the past, and be sure we make the days we are here mean something in the eyes of Hashem.
May Hashem bless the freedom this country provides for the practice of religion. May Hashem bless the president. And may Hashem bless the United States of America.