One of the leading rabbis in Israel says it’s a “mitzvah,” a good deed or a religious duty, to personally see President Barack Obama during his visit to Israel this week and even created a prayer to be recited by those who in his opinion are so fortunate. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the former Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel and an influential spiritual leader is likening Obama to a “king in our time.”
Maariv reports (Blaze translation):
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef told his students that there is a great interest in seeing a king during this time and that Obama is a kind of king in our time. The rabbi added that it’s a mitzvah to try to see President Obama in person.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was asked by his students how to behave in relation to the visit by the American president, and if and how to [recite a] blessing upon seeing him. In Ovadia’s opinion, anyone who is fortunate enough to see the president must [recite the blessing thanking God] “Gives dignity to flesh and blood.”
The rabbi explained that President Obama today is thought of as a king: “He can declare war on an enemy state and he has the authority to pardon those sentenced to death.”
Ovadia Yosef wanted to make clear to his followers that only those who see Obama in the flesh should recite the prayer, not after seeing him on television.
Even though First Lady Michelle Obama stayed home, Yosef said the same prayer would apply to those seeing her in person as well.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef provoked criticism in 2010 when he said that God should strike Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other “haters of Israel” with a plague. "Abu Mazen [Abbas’ nickname] and all these evil people should perish from this earth," he said at the time.
As TheBlaze reported in 2011, Yosef also gave his approval for the early release from prison of a Palestinian terrorist who had planned to assassinate him.