Kenneth Cohen

Be Like Efraim and Menashe

We were introduced to the fatherly blessing of one’s sons, from Yakov Avinu’s blessing of Yosef’s two sons.

Unlike the blessing for daughters, where we hope that they resemble Sara, Rivka, Rachel, and Leah, the sons are to become like Efraim and Menashe.

There are many explanations as to why Efraim and Menashe are mentioned, and not the Patriarchs. The one that made an impression on me, is the following:

The Baal Haturim noted that the Gematria of Reuven and Shimon, is equal to the numerical value of Efraim and Menashe. This was to show that they were to be viewed equally as two of the twelve tribes of Israel.

It is also worthy of note that Efraim and Menashe spent their entire lives in Egypt, the center of decadence. The fact that Yakov found them deserving to be called “tribes of Israel,” is most impressive.

It is for this reason that we give this specific blessing to our sons. As they go out into the world, and are faced with challenges that might shake up their faith, they should take an example from the sons of Yosef. They were able to overcome all of the temptations of the Hedonistic life of Egypt.

We similarly pray that our sons will be strong in their commitment to Judaism and not allow themselves to be led astray. If Efraim and Menashe, could succeed, so could they.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at