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    Ben Porat Yosef – Vayyechi

    benporatSumming up the character and nature of each of his children, Jacob says that Joseph is ben-porat (Gen. 49:22).

    Whatever the phrase really means it has given rise to the Jewish surname Benporath.

    Porat seems to have some connection with the word for fruit (as in borei p’ri ha-etz…). The implication is that Joseph will be fruitful.

    The verse in itself does not define the context of Joseph’s fruitfulness. Does it mean that he and his issue will be numerous? Or that they will be prosperous?

    Targum Onkelos more or less adopts both options, saying that Joseph will be numerous and blessed like a vine that is planted by a spring of water.

    Some interpretations link the word porat with peh-resh-aleph, a wild ass, suggesting that Joseph’s family will be proud and independent.

    Ibn Ezra and other classical commentators look at the whole verse and believe that it indicates that Joseph and his family will be like branches spreading over the whole of the people and giving them shade and protection.

    In this respect one thinks of communities in many countries which were blessed with a leading person or family who loved, upheld and cared for all their fellow Jews and human beings.

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