And Yosef saw that his father was placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head, and it displeased him. So he held up his father’s hand to remove it from upon Ephraim’s head [to place it] on Menashe’s head. And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, Father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused, and he said, “I know, my son, I know; he too will become a people, and he too will be great. But his younger brother will be greater than he, and his children[‘s fame] will fill the nations.” So he blessed them on that day, saying, “With you, Israel will bless, saying, ‘May G-d make you like Ephraim and like Menashe,” and he placed Ephraim before Manasseh.(Breishis 48:17-19)
May G-d make you like Ephraim and Menashe…”May HASHEM bless you and keep you. May HASHEM let His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May HASHEM look kindly upon you and give you peace.”
(Blessing for boys on Shabbos Night)
We have to wonder why this blessing is the one offered from parents to their boys each Friday night. The girls are blessed that they should be like the great matriarchs, Sara, Rivka, Rachel, and Leah. Why are not the names of the patriarchs evoked for the male version of this blessing? Why are Ephraim and Menashe the focal point of this time honored tradition, which is crowned with the priestly blessing of peace?
Charles Plumb was a navy jet pilot. On his seventy-sixth combat mission, he was shot down and parachuted into enemy territory. He was captured and spent six years in prison. He survived and now lectures on the lessons he learned from his experiences.
One day, a man in approached Plumb and his wife in a restaurant, and said, “Are you Plumb the navy pilot?” “Yes, how did you know?” asked Plumb. “I packed your parachute,” the man replied. Plumb was amazed – and grateful: “If the chute you packed hadn’t worked I wouldn’t be here today…”
Plumb refers to this in his lectures: his realization that the anonymous sailors who packed the parachutes held the pilots’ lives in their hands, and yet the pilots never gave these sailors a second thought; never even said hello, let alone said thanks.
Now Plumb asks his audiences, “Who packs your parachutes? Who helps you through your life-physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually? Think about who helps you and recognize them and say “thanks.”
How does this story apply to Ephraim and Menashe? They too were parachuted into Egypt via Yosef their father. There he survived based on the wisdom Yaakov, their grandfather had taught him. He, Yaakov, in essence, packed their parachute too! He gave them the survival tools to “make it” in an Egyptian exile, and they did!
When Yaakov blessed them, they were grateful! There was none of that quibbling over the blessings that had plagued so many generations until then. What more can parents hope for than their children live peacefully with each other with appreciation for those who lived their lives only in order to pack your parachute. DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.