What is behind Yaakov’s sudden adoption of Yosef’s two sons? And why does he make Yosef swear to bury him in the land of Canaan? Is his son’s word not enough?
Self-fulfilling prophecies are often crucial to the birth of a people. When Jews bless their sons on Friday night, they say, “May you be like Ephraim and like Menashe”. Why not “like Avraham, Yitzkhak, and Yakov”? After all, we bless our daughters that they be like the four matriarch’s: Sarah, Rivka, Rachel, and Leah, so why not bless our sons that they be like the patriarchs? Why Ephraim and Menashe?
“With you, Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and like Menasheh,’ ”
And so it is to this day; on Erev Shabbat, it is customary for fathers to bless their sons with this blessing. But why? Why do we ask that God make them like Ephraim and like Menashe? Why not like Yehuda, from whom Israel’s kings were descended? Or like Levy, from whom the priests are descended? What is special about Yoseph’s sons?