Wednesday, December 30, 2009

brachos, parents and children

1) "Kachem na eilei v'avaracheim" (48:9)
Ya'akov tells Yosef to bring his sons to him and he will bless them.

Rav Amiel (Hegyonos El Ami) beautifully writes that there are many people who believe in the brachos of a tzadik without believing in the tzadik. What does that mean? To run to this Rebbe or that tzadik to ask for a bracha is easy. But what makes those brachos work? It's because the tzadik giving them lives a certain lifestyle in accordance with certain values. If you truly believe those values and lifestyle make a tzadik, then there is no excuse for not aspiring to incorporate them into your own life. But you have a tartei d'sasrei: people will run after the brachos, but reject the values.

When Ya'akov said to bring Ephraim and Menashe to him, he wasn't talking about physical proximity -- he meant that Yosef must first bring Ephraim and Menashe to adopt and appreciate the values of Ya'akov the tzadik, and only then could his bracha, the bracha of a tzadik, have meaning.

2) One other point from Rav Amiel that rings so true: the Torah tells us that Ephraim stood to the right of Yosef which was to the left of Ya'akov, and Menashe stood to the left of Yosef which was to the right of Ya'akov.

Ya'akov and Yosef -- could there be any closer father and son? Yet, the Torah tells us that what to Yosef was right, to Ya'akov was left; what to Yosef was left, to Ya'akov was right... and so it is always between parents and their children.


  1. "People will run after the brachos, but reject the values."

    How were you able to resist turning this into a scathing social commentary?

    "Could there be any closer father and son?"

    It seems from the pesukim that Ya'akov and Yosef did not spend a great deal of time together in Mitzrayim.

  2. So are you saying that a bracha is really just a reward given for living a certain lifestyle? And that a Tzaddik has the right to override the normal reward and promise something else?

  3. Bracha = extra than normal reward, or extra help, but you have to be ra'uy to receive the bracha.

    Sounds like you are asking the question the Rishonim ask on how bracha works -- m'mah nafshach: if you are ra'uy, then why do you need the bracha, and if you are not ra'uy what good is it?
    The Abarbanel as a survey of shitos in parshas Toldos on this (Derashas haRan, Ralbag talk about it).