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INSIGHT: A Weekly and Yearly Blessing

A Blessing on your Head

A Blessing on your Head

At this point in his life, Yaakov had very weak eyesight and asked his son, “My dear Yosef, who are these young men standing at your side?”

“Father, these are my children, granted to me by Hashem,” Yosef replied as he brought his sons closer to their grandfather.

Yaakov kissed and hugged his grandchildren and prepared to bless Menashe and Ephraim. Yosef wisely set Menashe, the B’chor (the older son) at Yaakov’s right side, and Ephraim on his left. This way, Yaakov’s right hand, the prominent hand, would go on Menashe’s head, guaranteeing that he would receive the special blessing reserved for the firstborn.

Yaakov put his hands on the boys’ heads… but he crossed his arms! His left hand was on the older boy Menashe’s head, and his right hand on Ephraim’s head!

“That’s not right! That’s wrong!” Yosef wondered. “Why did Father mistakenly switch things around? Father’s right hand should be on Menashe, the B’chor!”

Yaakov began blessing his grandchildren, “The angel that has protected me throughout my many challenges in life, shall be by your side as a protector, and may you increase greatly like the fish of the ocean!”

“Excuse me, Father,” Yosef interrupted as he tried to move his father’s hands. “Menashe is the older one. Please, put your right hand on his head.”

Yaakov replied, “This is no mistake. I am quite aware of who is older and who is younger. They will both become great nations, but Ephraim will be the greater of the two.”

Yaakov continued to bless both boys, “Throughout the ages all the people of Israel will bless their children by mentioning your names. They will say to their children, ‘May HaShem make you like Ephraim and Menashe!’ “

Yaakov now turned to Yosef, “HaShem will always be with you. He will bring you back to the land of our forefathers and will give you an extra portion of land – you will receive the city of Shechem.”

Shazak insight

A Weekly and Yearly Blessing

To this day, in many Jewish households, the words of Yaakov – “May HaShem grant that you be like Ephraim and like Menashe.” – are the very words parents use to bless their sons every Friday evening. For girls they say, “May HaShem grant that you be like Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel, and Leah.” Traditionally, parents place their hands on top of the child’s head during the blessing. They may even add a few additional words to their blessing and whisper something personal into the child’s ear.

However, others are of the opinion that this blessing is so holy they reserve it for just one day a year – right before the fast of Yom Kippur begins.
What is so special about this blessing?

Let’s take a minute to think about who Ephraim and Menashe were. They were brought up in the royal palace in idol-worshipping Egypt, the only two Jewish kids on the block. Yet, they remained loyal members of Bnei Yisrael.

Perhaps this is the message the parents are giving their children on Friday night: No matter what happens, and no matter the circumstances, you can always be a Torah true Jew – just like Ephraim and Menashe.

Geared for Kids... Great for Adults!

Geared for Kids... Great for Adults!

Did you know learning Torah could be this much fun?
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