Parshat Vayechi contains many blessings that Yakov bestowed on his family, a few of which are widely used today. One of the popular ones is “May G-d make you like Efrayim and Menashe” (48:20), ironically given to Efrayim and Menashe. What makes Efrayim and Menashe special? Furthermore, Yakov crossed his arms when blessing them, such that the younger one (Efrayim) got Yakov’s right hand, while his left hand rested on the older one (Menashe). After having experienced sibling jealousy with his own brother Esav, as well as the brothers’ jealousy of Yosef, one would think that Yakov would be sensitive about showing favoritism towards a younger sibling. Why would he risk more sibling resentment?
The answer lies in the timing of this blessing. Yakov places his crossed hands on Efrayim and Menashe (48:14), blesses them (48:15-16), Yosef tries to correct Yakov (48:18), Yakov refuses (48:19), and then Yakov blesses his grandchildren. As the Bnei Yissoschhar explains, the fact that the two brothers accepted their fate, without complaining during this whole ordeal, or harboring any ill feelings in the future is what made them great, and is the very blessing that we bestow on our children today. Accepting our roles without letting jealousy or ego get in the way of personal contentment is a true blessing, not just for our own well-being, but for our family and community as well.