- Mennashe and Ephraim's Blessing
- Rabbi Besser
- Transcribed by Moshe Ben-Chaim
- An interesting occurrence is noted during this weeks parsha:
As Joseph brings his two sons before his father Jacob, Jacob
blesses Joseph, by blessing Mennashe and Ephraim. What is strange
is the placing of Jacob's hands on their heads, and in doing
so, Jacob crosses his hands, placing his right hand on the child
to his left, Ephraim, the younger child.
- Rabbi Besser asked two questions: 1) Why must one place their
hands on someone to bless? Won't the blessing take hold even
without physical contact? 2) What was the nature of this blessing,
that,according to Rashi, when one blesses their son in the future,
one will say, "G-d shall place you as Ephraim and Mennashe".
Why were these two selected to be the model of a father's blessing
of his son?
- Rabbi Besser answered the following: When Jacob saw Joseph's
two sons, he desired to know one thing, "were they at odds
with each other as all of the previous sons were?" Avraham
had two sons, Yishmael and Isaac, and they were at odds. Isaac
had Esav and Jacob, both at odds with each other. Jacob had 12
sons, 10 were opposed to one, Joseph. Now stands Joseph before
Jacob. Are Joseph's two sons at odds with each other as well?
To determine this, (Jacob was not familiar with Mennashe and
Ephraim, [Gen , 48:8] "who are these?" referring to
Joseph's sons), Jacob sought to awaken any sibling rivalry by
placing the dominant hand on younger son, Ephraim. (Normally
the elder is favored, and Jacob was clearly favoring the younger).
If there was rivalry, this would bring it to the forefront in
some form. When Jacob saw there was no animosity between the
two brothers, even as the younger was being favored, Jacob blessed
them with the one blessing which specifically epitomizes children
living properly - the absence of rivalry. He therefore blessed
them stating that when a father wishes the best for his sons,
he should bless them as Ephraim and Mennashe, as the two sons
who shared peace, and not the common rivalry. The bracha itself
embodies this concept, as the text reads. "G-d shall place
you as Ephraim and Mennashe", Ephraim the younger, is first
in the text.
- One could ask as to what brought about this peace in these
two brothers, not seen in earlier generations of the Avos. Perhaps
this is answered by understanding the cause for 'sibling rivalry'.
Two brothers do not rival each other without cause. It is based
on the desire to gain the spotlight in front of the parent. Children
crave attention. Perhaps these two did not desire attention,
a they saw their father preoccupied with running Egypt, they
realized this was his focus, and felt emotionally inadequate
to compete with "Egypt", to gain their fathers shared
attention. This caused them to accept a secondary role of importance
in their father's eyes. Thus, they abandoned seeking this type
of approval. Normally, a mature individual will overcome the
rivalry emotion, but Ephraim and Mennashe were faced with conquering
this emotion earlier in life.