Rabbi Moshe Francis
two sons, Menashe and Ephraim. When he brought them to his father,
Yaakov, to bless them before his death, Joseph positioned Menashe,
hate older son, at Yaakov's right side and Ephraim, the younger
son, at Yaakov's left. Yaakov, however, crossed his hands and placed
his right hand on Ephraim's head and his left hand on Menashe's
relates, that when Yaakov blessed Ephraim and Menashe "He deftly
switched his hands, for Menashe was the first born." The verse
should actually say something entirely different. He switched his
hands placing his right hand on Ephraim despite the fact
that Menashe was the first born. The Terumas HaDeshen explains
that Yaakov had another option. Initially, he could have placed
Menashe on his left side and Ephraim on his right. This would have
enabled him to bless them while extending his hands in front of
him in a normal manner. This, however, would have been an obvious
slight to Menashe. Instead, he positioned Menashe on the right sight
and subtly crossed his hands, minimizing the embarrassment to Menashe.
The verse can now be understood. He switched his hands because Menashe
was the bechor. He chose this option of switching his hands to avoid
any unnecessary embarrassment of overtly placing Menashe on the
left hand side.
in one of my classes, after arriving a few minutes late one morning,
removed his hat and sat down in front of his gemorah without his
yarmulke. Noticing his bare head, which was uncharacteristic of
him, I debated what course of action to take. Catching his eye I
pointed momentarily to the top of my head as unobtrusively as possible.
The message was understood, and he retrieved his yarmulke. After
the shuir he thanked me warmly for calling this to his attention.
He told me that he once made the same mistake when he visited the
house of a prominent rabbi, and the rabbi did not mention anything
to him. When he came home he realized that he had no yarmulke with
him and that he had sat in the rabbi's house the whole time without
a head covering. He called the rabbi on the phone and asked him
why he did not point out the error. The rabbi said that he did not
want to cause him any embarrassment. The man remarked, "I feel
more embarrassed now that I know I sat for two hours in your home
without a yarmulke".
we learn that in those cases when one can not avoid embarrassing
someone, great care and sensitivity should be shown to minimize