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This week we’re talking about the meaning behind blessings. 

In this week’s Torah reading, Parshat VaYichi, Jacob calls in his grandchildren, Ephraim and Menashe, and gives them a blessing. You can read his blessing in Genesis 48:16.

In this prayer, Jacob prays that G-d make Ephraim and Menashe numerous like fish. Besides the fact that fish have many many babies and travel in large groups, why else is a fish in water an apt metaphor for a Jew?

After this blessing, Jacob blesses them again. This time he says that people will bless their children: “May Hashem make you like Ephraim and Menashe.”

Why do you think Ephraim and Menashe are role models for generations to come?

(One idea: they are the first “Jewish children” to be raised outside of Eretz Canaan, and so they are seen as role models for staying connected and maintaining family values even when in exile.)


Blessing the tribes:

In this week’s parsha, Yaacov blesses each of his sons in Chapter 49. But if you read the verses/blessings, they do not all seem to be positive. How can we understand this? What does a blessing mean? And how can pointing out negative traits serve to be a blessing for someone?