July 23, 2024
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To Be Like Ephraim And Menashe

It is customary for many fathers to bless their sons on Friday night, saying that Hashem should grant them the blessing of being like Ephraim and Menashe.(יְשִֽׂמְךָ֣ אֱלֹקים כְּאֶפְרַ֖יִם וְכִמְנַשֶּׁ֑ה) This week’s Parsha, Vayechi, is the source of this tradition. Yaakov blessed that all of Israel should bless this to their sons. When I initially heard this, my immediate thought was, “Why?” Why like Menashe and Ephraim and not like Yaakov, Avraham, Yitzchak, or someone else?

Among many different answers, I think two are the most useful and impactful for our lives today. One explanation for this is that Ephraim and Menashe managed to maintain their identities while living in exile, among non-Jews, and among those with questionable morals. The second reason is that they were the first brothers to not fight.

In a world where antisemitism is on the rise, this is a blessing that we all need in our lives today. We must continue to be resilient and acknowledge that we are the chosen people and the Jewish Nation. Even though some people disapprove of who we are and  the way we are different, we must be proud of ourselves. We need to be like good brothers and be united in order to firmly maintain our identity. We have to accept that we are not always correct, that no Jew is stronger or smarter than another, and that each of us is here for a purpose.

Once we act together and are truly united, we will be able to be like Ephraim and Menashe who were able to be themselves and unique in a place that didn’t approve of people who weren’t like them. May all of Am Yisrael be blessed with being like Ephraim and Menashe and be proud of their Jewish identity with their unification with Am Yisrael.


Shira Sedek is a passionate educator currently working toward a master’s degree at Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.

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