Chaim Ehrman as heard from Rabbi Shimon Schwab.
is on his deathbed. He is ready to bless his children and leave
this world. Prior to the blessing of his children, he blesses the
children of Yosef, Efraim and Menashe. His blessing is that the
Jewish people, from now on, will bless their children to grow and
follow in the footsteps of Efraim and Menashe. The obvious question
arises, why did Yaakov choose Efraim and Menashe as a role model
for the Jewish People? Avrohom or Yitzchok or even Yaakov himself
would seem to be much greater role models. After all, they were
the Avos (Patriarchs) while Efraim and Menashe, with all their greatness
were not. It must be that there was something special about the
blessing received by Efraim and Menashe which determined that this
was the blessing which would be appropriate for all the generations
When one gives
a blessing, it is customary to say, "Bli Ayin Hara"
there should be no evil eye. What does an "evil" eye mean?
An eye is a biological part of a body that Hashem created: how can
there be evil in an eye?
Hashem gives blessing
to an individual due to certain merits or zechuyos. However, if
this blessing causes others to commit aveiros, such as jealousy,
Loshon Horo, Rechilus, Motsi Shem Ra, then Hashem may remove the
blessing. Although the recipient was indeed worthy of the blessing,
Hashem would not want others to sin and commit aveiros because of
a blessing. An "evil" eye simply means an eye that sees
blessings bestowed on one individual and covets those blessing,
becomes jealous and commits all kinds of sins which will cause the
removal of the blessing.
There is no doubt
that there are many righteous people, Tzaddikim, who were greater
that Menashe and Efraim and were appropriate role models for the
Jewish people. However, the blessings that these righteous people
received did cause jealousy and ill-will. For example, the blessings
that Yaakov received caused immense hatred and jealousy from his
older brother Esav: the blessings Yitzchok received generated animosity
from his older brother Yishmael: Avrohom had to abandon his homeland
and family to receive his blessing.
Efraim had just
been singled out by Yaakov to become a leader of the Jewish nation.
Yaakov crossed his hands in order to place his right hand, the stronger
hand, on Efraim. Menashe, the older brother, observes the added
blessing given to Efraim, and he makes not a single comment. There
is no jealousy, no anger or animosity. On the contrary, Menashe
is happy to see his brother rise in leadership and responsibility.
Only Yosef was concerned and wanted Menashe to be blessed by the
right hand. This happiness that Menashe portrayed when seeing the
added blessings given to his younger brother is the very reason
why Yaakov chose Menashe and Efraim to be role models in receiving
blessings. There certainly was no "evil" eye here! Additionally,
one could add that in blessing our children to be like Efraim and
Menashe, it is this very idea that we are trying to convey. In blessing
our children, we ask that they merit to be like both Efraim and
Menashe. To be like Efraim, who was the greater of the two, yet
also to be like Menashe who showed such great inner strength in
ceding the blessing to Efraim wholeheartedly, demonstrating a capacity
to put communal good ahead of personal gain.
January 08, 1998