Inauguration: The Most Jewish of American Public Rituals

January 20, 2017 | Jonathan Sacks
About the author: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is a British Orthodox rabbi, philosopher, theologian, author and politician. He served as the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013.

Going back to the Mayflower Compact, argues Jonathans Sacks, Americans have historically seen government in terms of a covenant—a concept that ultimately stems from the Hebrew Bible. The presidential inauguration is thus a periodic renewal of the American covenant, modeled after Moses’ renewal of the Israelites’ covenant with God in Deuteronomy and the commandment (in Deuteronomy 31) that the kings of Israel symbolically renew the covenant with a public reading from the Torah every seven years. (Video, 15 minutes.)

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