In the opening of this week’s Torah portion, Vayechi, Jacob is on his deathbed. A person said to Joseph, “Your father is ill,” and Joseph visited his father, bringing along Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Jacob wanted to bless the children, but as the Torah said, “And Israel’s eyes had grown heavy with age.” Translation: he was almost blind.
Joseph positioned Manasseh to Jacob’s right and positioned Ephraim to Jacob’s left. Jacob stretched out his right hand and placed it on Ephraim’s head, and laid his left hand on Manasseh’s head. Joseph protested, because Ephraim was the younger son, and Jacob insisted to lay his right hand on Ephraim’s head, saying that Ephraim’s descendants will be greater than Manasseh’s descendants.
Does this episode seem familiar to you? Does this episode remind you of something?
Jacob was re-living his father’s blindness. Isaac blessed the younger son, and Jacob similarly blessed the younger son. Jacob tricked Isaac, and Joseph took pains to explain to Jacob the birth order of his sons, but Jacob bestowed the primary blessing on his younger grandson. Jacob, in the same position of his father, atoned for his sin of deceiving his father, and bestowed the primary blessing on Ephraim without benefit of deceit.