Resulting from this Mi Yodeya question, the references in the question indicate that one does not recite "she-natan michvodo le-vasar ve-dam" upon meeting a non-Jewish head of state of a limited government, such as the President of the USA.

What beracha should be recited in this situation?

It seems to me that the same reasoning and answer would apply to the head of state of any limited government.

  • 1
    I believe that Art Scroll Siddur addresses this question and states that one should say this bracha but without Shem umalchut because of uncertainty regarding this. I am uncertain of the reason behind the question as a U.S. president is the ruler of the country, unless we consider that Congress does have (some) power to overrule th epresident, so he is not an absolute ruler like a king or queen is?
    – DanF
    Jun 6, 2014 at 15:32
  • @DanF I think it would be a huge stretch to call the president the "ruler of the country". The President of the United States has very little power on his own besides pardoning prisoners and limited control of the military (the president can order military action without congressional approval, but it cannot last more than 30 or 60 days--I can't remember which--without congressional approval).
    – Daniel
    Jun 6, 2014 at 15:48
  • How do you know any bracha is recited?
    – Double AA
    Jun 6, 2014 at 22:22
  • Based on the current president you can bless either mishaneh habrios or mattir issurim. Or both.
    – user6591
    Mar 3, 2015 at 19:43
  • @user6591: Why would mattir isurim be appropriate? Jun 15, 2015 at 15:38

3 Answers 3


The prevailing practice is to say the bracha but without the name of God. So skip the parentheses of

baruch (ata Hashem elokeinu melech haOlam) she-natan michvodo le-vasar ve-dam

The Artscroll siddur says we don't do the full blessing (with the name of God) because he's democratically-elected, term-limited, and the like; the Tzitz Eliezer holds similarly.

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef and the Piksei Teshuvot feel that the president is powerful enough to warrant the bracha; however, Nivchar MiKesef OC3 holds that no matter how powerful, if the ruler is going out as a commoner, you can't say the bracha as where's the royal pomp and circumstance? Therefore if the President is visiting a foreign country, "just wearing a suit like any commoner", with a non-showy security detail, Rabbi Yosef advises playing it safe and saying it without the name of God.

However, that same responsum of the Nivchar MiKesef that requires some pomp and circumstance also implies that seeing the royal residence meets that condition. So if you extended Rabbi Yosef's line of reasoning, you would probably conclude that meeting the President at the White House would get the full bracha with the name of God.

Practically, though, between the questions of both pomp and power, it seems the common practice is to say it without the name of God.


R Shlomo Aviner writes (in his book On the air p. 45) that no blessing is recited (and such is the ruling of the Steipler Gaon and the Satmar Rebbe as well) and explains why

The President of the United States is not a king. Halachic authorities mention four criteria in order to be considered a king for this purpose:

  1. One must be the absolute ruler of his kingdom or country (Orchot Chaim in name of Sefer Ha-Eshkol, Hilchot Berachot #49, Shut Ha-Radvaz 1:296). The President of the United States does not have absolute authority. He must bend to the will of the Congress whether he likes it or not.
  2. The king must have the ability to administer capital punishment (Shut Chatam Sofer ibid.). The President does not possess this power. While he does have the power to grant life by issuing a pardon, he does not possess the power of death (Shut Be’er Moshe 2:9). If he issues a pardon to Jonathan Pollard, we can discuss this further.
  3. The king must have royal clothing. The President of the United States wears a suit like everyone else (Shut Yechaveh Da’at 2:28 and Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot 2:139).
  4. The king must have an entourage (see Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot ibid. Ha-Rav Sternbuch writes there that he heard that Ha-Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld, the great Rav of Yerushalayim before the establishment of the State, once had a private meeting in a tent with the King of Jordan and he recited this blessing even though he was without his entourage). While the President is traveling with 400 guards, it is for his protection.

The Satmar Rebbe similarly ruled that one does not recite a blessing over the President of the United States since he is not a king (see the book "Edut Bi-Yosef," p. 49 #76).

The Steipler Gaon also ruled that no blessing is recited over a President (Orchot Rabbenu vol. 1, pp. 93-94).


Rav Menashe Klein in his Mishneh Halachos 11:182 and 18:143 writes that on a ruler one makes a bracha even if they do not have they power to kill someone. He notes that for the President one can make a bracha ,but a governor he is unsure ,since the governors of yesteryear had more power.

Text of the teshuva:

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