The Blessings We Give
March 10, 2023
By Irv Levy

We say a Mi Sheberach when a friend or relative is ill. On Shabbat and holidays, we give our children a blessing.

For me, these are the times that I speak to G-d the most. Praying for my family, my friends and my community. (Occasionally I ask to win the lottery, but I always promise to give half to charity!).

I am confident that G-d hears my prayers and I am grateful. Why am I confident? When I pray for my son, Alex, I pray that he will be healthy, independent, happy and most importantly ethical.

This past week Alex told me about his new job. He is working harder than he ever has, he is very happy and shared his plans for a bright future. He told me about how he was motivating others and managing his team. His stated goal is to lead by example and work with the highest ethics to the best of his ability. He insists he learned everything from me. I don’t know when I taught him this, but his saying it, couldn’t have made me prouder.

My son is healthy, independent and happy and most importantly ethical.

I am confident that G-d is watching over, and I am grateful.

Jacob had 12 sons who were to grow to become the leaders of their own tribes. One of the youngest was Joseph, who had two sons, Ephraim and Menashe.

Just before his death, Jacob called all his sons together for a final blessing. He gave a special blessing to Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Menashe. Ephraim and Menashe were the first brothers among our forefathers to live in harmony and practice collaboration. Their focus was on setting an example of working for good of the people actually putting the good of the community ahead of their own self interests.

The opening of the traditional blessing for sons is: May God make you like Ephraim and Menashe (for daughters, it is: May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah).

Why Ephraim and Menashe? Why not Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?

Ephraim and Menashe worked together for the good of all, they maintained Jewish values serving as a role model for all Jewish children.

Even though Alex credits me for his success, the credit really goes to my parents. I don’t recall when they taught me this, but the blessing for my children was the same as the one they offered to me to be healthy, independent and happy and most importantly ethical. Our children are always watching. They may not realize they are learning, but, the lessons we teach them by leading an honorable life are passed down l’dor v’dor, of which I am testament.

Irv Levy is the Executive Director of the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies.

The Blessings We Give - Jewish Thought of the week 2022