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Three fathers, Two brothers, One blessing

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It takes two men to make one brother – Israel Zangwill

A Jewish mother is walking down the street with her two young sons.

A passerby asks her how old the boys are.

“The doctor is three,” the mother answers, “and the lawyer is two.”

Us Jews have always placed huge expectations on our children, every child is our future, every child the next link in our unbroken chain of tradition. This focus dates back to Biblical times and perhaps finds its origins in the family of Jacob. Jacob recognised that his children were not only just his children but were the 12 Tribes of Israel, each child establishing the foundations for the future of the Jewish people.

It was with this in mind that Jacob, as the curtain falls on his epic life, calls to his children to bless them and instill in them an awareness of the responsibilities of the mantle of leadership which they must now shoulder both individually and collectively.

The highlight of the parsha, are the blessings that Jacob bestows on his children, in particular the blessings he confers on his grandsons, Efraim and Menashe, the sons of Joseph.

Yet when Efraim and Menashe emerge there is hesitation on the part of Jacob. He quizzes Joseph – “who are these boys”. Jacob had lived for 17 years in Egypt and knew very well who Joseph’s sons were, so what then was it that Jacob was truly demanding to know?

Every Friday night we bless our children, praying that our boys should be like Efraim and Menashe. Is that really what we as parents wish for our children that every Jewish child should be identical to both Efraim and Menashe? And every girl to Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah? How is that even possible? What are we asking from our children – to be clones? Why would we wish that for our children?

To address these issues, let us take a step back and gain an appreciation into life itself and the delicate balance we attempt to tread.

As Jews, we thank the Almighty for every and any kindness we receive. There is a fascinating blessing we recite after relieving ourselves. The blessing is referred to as Asher Yatzar thanking G-d for enabling us to be able to take care of our basic needs.

The blessing concludes with a........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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