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Parshas Vayechi - Blessing Children With Reference to Ephraim and Menashe - Why?

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Jan 2, 2009
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When Jewish parents bless their children, they invoke the exact phraseology of Yaakov Avinu, "May God establish you as Ephraim and Menashe." (Bereshis 48:20) Why is it that Ephraim and Menashe are the prototype for this blessing? Would it not be more appropriate to use names of leaders who were of even greater prominence, such as the Avos themselves? Why are Ephraim and Menashe the figures whom we seek our children to aspire to emulate?

When we think about the histories of our great leaders, we are confronted with pictures of people whose lives were marked with immense suffering and turbulence. The tribulations to which Hashem exposed them were key factors in their spiritual growth and development.

The exception to this rule, at the time of the Avos, were Ephraim and Menashe. Whereas the other shevotim lived through the flight from Lavan, the death of Rachel, the pursuit of Esav, the conflagration at Shechem, and the sale of Yosef, Ephraim and Menashe were raised with absolutely no strife. Indeed, their very names (ibid. 41:51-52) reflect the peace and tranquility associated with their home life.

It is therefore that we beseech God to grant each child a peaceful, yet Torah-true upbringing emulative of that of Ephraim and Menashe. Although the birth of Am Yisroel necessitated the pain and suffering experienced by the Avos and Yaakov's sons, spiritual growth can be maximally fostered with tranquility, and overall health is best achieved through calm.

We are charged with cultivating our precious possessions - our children - in an atmosphere most fertile for their development as productive Bnei Torah, and we aspire to be blessed with an environment most conducive to this end.

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