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.