… The blessing of the children.
It’s one of the most beautiful customs at the Shabbat Friday night meal.
It sends a very important message to the child.
Because we can imagine how a child might feel at a festive meal.
With all those adults! Talking about “adult stuff”!
And there may be important guests. Who deserve special attention.
But what about the kids?
… It’s very powerful.
Everything stops. The guests wait. All eyes are on the kids.
And they see how important they are to their parents.
As they bless them to be great Jews.
What is the blessing for boys?
“May G-d make you like Ephraim and Menashe.”
Are you saying to yourself, “Run that by me again? Who are they?!”
Then you’re in good company!
Most American Jews have probably never heard of Ephraim and Menashe.
And if you know who they are?
You should be proud of yourself!
… So why relatively obscure Menashe and Ephraim?
Why not the more famous. Like Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob?
… It takes us back to the Joseph story.
Jacob and his family are in the Land of Israel.
Joseph is taken to Egypt. And rises to prominence there.
He gets married and has two sons. Ephraim and Menashe. (Genesis, 41:50)
Egypt was the center of civilization at the time.
Menashe and Ephraim are the first Jewish children born in an alien society.
And their father is part of “high society.”
They could have assimilated. But didn’t.
They remained loyal Jews.
… And that has always been the deepest wish of Jewish parents.
That no matter where their kids find themselves, they should be loyal Jews.
And there’s no better way to say it.
“May G-d make you like Menashe and Ephraim!”
All the best,