The blessing of Ephraim and Menashe.
Every Shabbos, we bless our sons that they should be like Menahse and Ephraim. There is a blessing for girls too, but that is not the subject of this little vort.
The blessing goes like this:
May G bless (literally: put) you to be like Menashe and Ephraim
יְשִׂימְךָ אֱלהיִם כְּאֶפְרַיְם וְכִמְנַשֶּׁה
May G bless you and guard you.
יְבָרֶכְךָ יְ יְ וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ
May G show you favor and be gracious to you.
יָאֵר יְ יְ פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ
May G show you kindness and grant you peace.
יִשָּׂא יְ יְ פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלום
Yaakov gave a blessing to these two sons of Yosef, but showed favor for the younger over the older. In doing so, he was following what had become the traditional way of our ancestors. Avraham chose his second son, Yitzhak over his half brother Yishmael. Rivkah overruled Yitzhak to choose second son, Yaakov over his older brother Exav. Yaakov’s favorite son was not his firstborn, Reuven, rather it was Yosef, his 11th son. And when he blesses his grandchildren, he gives preference to his 2nd grandson Ephraim over his older brother Menashe.
In each of the cases before Ephraim and Menashe there tended to be trouble. Yishmael and his mother were cast out. In the case of Yishmael and Yitzhak the conflict continues to this very day. Esav planned fratricide on his younger brother. Yosef is thrown into a pit, sold into slavery and his father is shown evidence that he was slaughterd by wild beasts.
But here is the difference. In the case of Menashe and Ephraim there is not one hint of coflict. The silence in Torah speaks loudly.
We are taught that Torah is not only black fire written on white fire, but also white fire on black fire. The white fire in this case refers to the lack of any mention of conflict between these two brothers.
Every Shabbos parents bless our children praying that they will be like Menashe and Ephraim; the two siblings who don’t fight; the two siblings who break the tradition of sibling rivalry. And we pray that the cycle will be broken for all humankind