Simon Hardy Butler
Simon Hardy Butler

Trump’s Tallit and What He Should Have Said

The recent news and accompanying video concerning Donald Trump’s donning of the Jewish prayer shawl known as the tallit bothers me.

I can’t help but wonder as I watch the images, as the bishop whose church Trump was attending places the garment over the US Republican presidential candidate’s shoulders, whether Trump didn’t know to say the words one pronounces when wearing this accessory.

In Hebrew, the prayer — which generally appears on the shawl itself — reads: Hebrew
Hebrew  Hebrew

Transliterated, it reads:

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Haolam Asher Kideshanu B’mitzvotav V’tzivanu L’hitateif Ba-Tzitzit.

I doubt Trump knows these words, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t realize their importance.

They thank G-d for commanding us to wear the tzitzit, the tassels that symbolize our religious duties and responsibilities.

The video suggests that Trump didn’t say this blessing before putting on the tallit.

To me, that’s the disturbing part of all this. It’s not that he put it on in a church rather than a synagogue. It’s that he treated it as just another article of clothing, without ritual value.

Owing to the myriad concerns surrounding the possibility of Trump’s anti-Semitism, this is yet another red flag. His actions convey an opportunism that’s devoid of understanding. Worse, they indicate a predilection to action before comprehension, a desire to speak prior to being informed.

This is all quite disturbing.

Though the High Holy Days are coming up, I’m reminded of an example not from Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, but from a holiday celebrated earlier this year, Passover, that relates to how I feel about Trump. Somehow he reminds me of the Wicked Son discussed during the Four Sons portion of the Seder.

“What does all of this mean for me?” this proverbial child might say.

And so might Trump. What does it mean indeed.

About the Author
Simon Hardy Butler is a writer and editor living in New York City. He has written for publications ranging from Zagat to Adweek and has interviewed innumerable people—including two Auschwitz survivors whose story may be heard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website. His views and opinions are his own.
Related Topics
Related Posts