Vayechi: Final Blessings

This week’s Parasha features the origin of the blessing that many parents offer their sons on Friday evenings, “May God make you like Ephraim and Menasheh.” When Yaakov went to bless his grandsons, he put his right hand on Ephraim, the younger son, and his left hand on Menasheh, the older son. Yosef thought that this must be a mistake, as he believed that his older son should receive the first born blessing. Yaakov however, tells Yosef: “I know my son, I know.” (Bereshit 48:19) The Midrash in Genesis Rabbah 97:4 teaches that Yaakov’s response is meant to not only convey that he is intentionally giving the first-born blessing to the younger son but that he is also aware of patterns of his family’s past, ranging from child favoritism to birthright swaps.

  • What do you think Yaakov meant by his response, “I know my son, I know”?
  • What insights does this Midrash give us into why Yaakov blessed Ephraim first?
  • Why do you think this blessing has become a staple of family Shabbat routines?

This concludes Midrash Manicures second cycle of Sefer Bereshit! Chazak Chazak V’Nitchazek!

In light of the tragedy in Newtown, CT, Rabbi Buechler, founder of Midrash Manicures, has composed a prayer that encompasses a line from this week’s Torah portion about blessing our children. Feel free to use this prayer as a resource for you and your community.


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