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Blessing the Children

12/29/2017 09:11:11 AM

Dec29

Rabbi Steven Suson

Before I became a parent, someone explained to me that I could not possibly understand love. Since our daughter was born, I had many conversations with Rachel z”l, questioning whether Mara really is the most beautiful and amazing child in the world or if it is only because we are her parents that we think so. A parent's love for a child is unmatched by any other force in nature and children often thrive when given sufficient support, praise, affection and blessings.

One way in which we bless our children is by using the language and invoking the memories of our ancestors. In this week’s Torah reading, Joseph brings his sons to visit his father, Jacob, on his deathbed. Jacob blesses his grandchildren in interesting and dramatic fashion and, ultimately, each of them become patriarch to an entire tribe of Israel. 

"May the angel who has delivered me from harm bless these children.  Let them be called by my name and the names of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac.  And may they increase greatly upon the earth." (Gen 48:16)

We sing the same words when we call the children up for an Aliyah on Simchat Torah (kol hane’arim). Some even have the custom to sing this blessing to their children each night with the bedtime Shema.

Every Shabbat, it is traditional to bless the children using imagery from this week’s parasha, when Jacob blessed his beloved grandchildren. We invoke their memories and their blessings when we say,

“May God make you like Ephraim and Menashe…”

We pray that God, Who protects and sustains us, send the same angels to protect and strengthen our children and grandchildren so they may increase greatly in number, in commitment to Judaism, and in responsibility to one another and to all of creation. Amen.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Suson

Tue, January 22 2019 16 Shevat 5779