Wednesday, December 11, 2013

what gave Ya'akov pause before he blessed Ephraim and Menashe

When Ya’akov came to give brachos to Ephraim and Menashe, he suddenly stopped and asked, “Who are these children?”  (48:8)  Rashi explains that Ya’akov felt the Shechina depart because of the future kings Achav, Rechavam, and Yehu, all of whom were idolators, who came from Ephraim and Menashe.  Yosef reassured his father that Ephraim and Menashe were his children.  Rashi explains that Yosef showed his father the kesubah of his wife, and he davened for rachamim.  At that point the Shechina returned to Ya’akov, and he told Yosef to bring them close so he could bless them.

Question #1: What was the hava amina and what was the maskana?  At the end of the day, the tribes of Ephraim and Menashe still produced the evil kings Achav, Rechavam, Yehu.  If that’s what gave Ya’akov pause and prevented his giving brachos in the first place, then what changed?

Question #2: According to Rashi (48:9), Yosef’s tefilah for rachamim had an effect on the outcome.  So why was it only Yosef that davened?  If Ya’akov sensed that something was preventing him from giving brachos to his grandchildren, why didn’t he daven on their behalf?

Once again I have questions but no real satisfying answers (the Shem m’Shmuel discusses the issue, but I don’t understand what he is saying well enough).

So far all I have is this: Ya’akov paused not because in the future there would be evil kings that come from Ephraim and Menashe, but rather because that future forced him to question whether there was something wrong in the present.  Perhaps there was something lurking below the surface, an invisible defect not worthy of bracha, that was invisible now, but whose presence would come out in later generations.

As we discussed once before, a bracha can’t make someone into something he/she is not.  All it can do is help bring out the kochos a person already has inside. 

The resolution of Ya’akov’s dilemma therefore had to come from Yosef himself.  Yosef showed his wife’s kesubah, proving that despite living in a promiscuous society, he was married k’das Moshe v’Yisrael.  Yosef was the one who davened for rachamim on his children, proving his concern and investment in their spiritual welfare.  What will be in the future is kavshei Rachamana, but Yosef showed his father that what was before him in the here and now was fit for bracha.
Anyone have a better approach?

1 comment:

  1. Famous questions. I believe the answer can be found in Ramban by שרש פרה ראש ולענה where he discusses והוליד בן פריץ. This question is age old regarding every tzadik who begets a rasha. Your answer works for me.