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    Blessing children – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. I am puzzled by the blessing, “God make you like Ephraim and Menasheh”. Were they such role models?

    Blessing the children on the Sabbath eve, by Moritz Oppenheim, 1867

    A. Ephraim and Menasheh were the grandsons of Jacob. He foresaw that his descendants would bless their children in this way (Gen. 48:20).

    The Hertz Chumash praises them as Jews who would not barter their heritage for status or power.

    However, the text (verse 5) gives a different explanation, that Jacob regarded these two as his own sons: “They will be to me like Reuben and Simeon”.

    In this sense the parental blessing prays that every Jewish child will fulfil their potential to become as important in history as the original twelve sons of the patriarch.

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