Simcha's Torah Stories - Vayechi
A GOOD EDUCATION
"Good Shabbos everyone!"
"Good Shabbos Abba!"
"Everyone looks so nice in their Shabbos clothes. Your eyes are all sparkling with the light of the Shabbos candles."
"Yours are also, Abba."
"Thank you. Come to get your brochos (blessings). Chaim, you're first because you are the oldest. Yesimcha Elokim Ki-Efraim Vi-Ki-Menashe (May G-d make you like Efraim and like Menashe)."
"Abba, can I ask you a question?"
"Sure. Go ahead, Chaim."
"This was the blessing that Yaakov Avinu, our forefather Yaakov, gave to his grandsons, correct?"
"And this is the blessing that all fathers were commanded to bless their sons with, correct?"
"The verse says, 'this is how Israel (the Jewish people) shall bless.'"
"Abba, Yaakov Avinu had many sons. Why don't we bless our children with one of the blessings that he gave to his sons? Why do we bless our sons with the blessing of Efraim and Menashe, who weren't even his sons?"
"Chaim that is an excellent question. The leading Rabbi of the previous generation, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt"l also asked the same question."
"How did he answer it?"
"The verse (Shemos 48:5) writes that Efraim and Menashe, although they were born in Mitzraim, were like sons to their grandfather Yaakov. The other grandsons who were born in Eretz Yisrael, and were raised close to Yaakov should be more likely to be considered his sons. What was so special about Efraim and Menashe? The Torah is telling us that a father must educate his children very well in Torah and Mitzvos. So well, that the child will follow the Torah even under the most difficult circumstances. Yaakov's son Yosef, the father of Efraim and Menashe, kept the entire Torah while he was a slave, in prison, and in the royal court of Paroh in Mitzraim. None of his family was there to help him. Not only that, he educated his own sons, Efraim and Menashe to learn Torah and keep the Mitzvos, even in these alien surroundings."
"That's amazing, Abba."
"Do you see what a wonderful education Yosef received?"
"Kids, this is what Imma and I are trying to accomplish. Sometimes we are strict with you. Sometimes it is not easy to listen to what we say. You may think it is not fair. However, G-d made us your parents, and we have a mitzvah to educate you. We're trying to do our very best."
"Abba, we think you're doing great!"
"Thank you kids. It's great to hear it. Let's continue with the brochos. Aaron, now it's your turn. Yesimcha Elokim Ki-Efraim Vi-Ki-Menashe."
"Do you know what I was thinking about when you gave me the brocho Abba?"
"I was thinking about how much you love me, and how much you want me to be a tsaddik, just like Efraim and Menashe."
"Aaron, you're the greatest."
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