"Pharaoh said to Yosef, “I am Pharaoh. And without you no man may lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. Pharaoh called Yosefs name Tzaphenath Paneiach (decipherer of secrets) and he gave him Osnat, the daughter of Potiphera, Chief of On for a wife… Now to Yosef were born two sons – when the year of the famine had not yet set in –whom Osnat daughter of Potiphera, Chief of On, bore to him. Yosef called the name of the firstborn Menashe (“forgetting”) “for God has me forget all my hardship, and all my father’s household.” And the name of the second he called Ephraim (“fruitfulness”) “for God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (Bereishis 41:44-52)
As we consider these pesukim a number of questions come to mind.
- What is inner meaning of the name Tzafnas Paneach? If the Torah tells us that Pharaoh called Yosef by this name it must mean that this name is not merely an Egyptian nickname but a revelation of a particular essential feature of Yosef HaTzaddik.
- Who is Osnat? Other than the fact that she is the daughter of Potiphera, the Torah doesn't tell us anything else about her.
- There seems to be a connection between the fact that Pharoah named Yosef Tzafnas Paneach and Yosef's subsequent marriage to Osnat. What is the Torah teaching us?
- Who is Potiphera, Chief of On? The Gemara (Sotah 13b) tells us that this is the same Potiphar whom Yosef worked for many years prior. He is now called Potiphera because he was emasculated after desiring Yosef for homosexual relations. How is it that Potiphar, who desired Yosef for himself, who believed Yosef raped his wife, now comes to marry off his daughter to Yosef? The pasuk does indicate that it was Pharaoh who gave him Osnat but would Pharaoh have done so without the permission of Potiphar? After all, the pasuk goes out of its way to tell us that Potiphar is the Chief of On, a high position in Pharaoh’s government.
- Yosef has two children with Osnat and he names them Menashe and Ephraim. The names of Menashe and Ephraim seem contradictory. Menashe indicates that Yosef has forgotten all of his hardships but Ephraim is named for the fruitfulness he has achieved in the land of his affliction. Which one is it? Has Yosef forgotten his troubles or is he living in the land of his affliction?
- The name Menashe indicates that Yosef has “forgotten all of his toil and all of his father’s house.” What does it mean that Yosef has forgotten his father’s house? Isn’t the tzidkus of Yosef that he remembers his father’s house and stays loyal to those values? If this is a reference to the pain the shevatim caused Yosef then we would expect the Torah to make that clear.
A Wife With A Secret Past
At the end of Yaakovs life, Yosef takes his two sons, Menashe and Ephraim, to receive berachos from Yaakov Avinu.
“The Israel saw Yosef’s sons and he said, “Who are these?” And Yosef said to his father, “They are my sons who God has given me with this.” (Bereishis 48:8-9)
Has Yaakov not met Menashe and Ephraim? He has already been living in Mitzrayim for nineteen years! It seems impossible that Yaakov did not spend time with his grandchildren.
Furthermore, Yosef's response to Yaakov is difficult to understand. “They are my sons who God has given me with this.” Yosef seems to be presenting something to Yaakov but the Torah only refers to it as "this". What exactly is the “this” that Yosef HaTzaddik is referring to?
Especially because something about this object allows Yaakov to bless Menashe and Ephraim. It seems like a very important detail to leave out!
Rashi explains that at the time that Yaakov went to bless Ephraim and Menashe, the shechinah withdrew from him because the future progeny of his grandchildren. Yeravam ben Nevat and Achav (both notorious idolaters) descended from Ephraim while Yehu and his children descended from Menashe. Thus the passuk can be understood as Yaakov asking, who bore these children that they are unworthy of my blessing? In response Yosef pulls out his marriage documentation (a document of eirusin and a ketubah) and davens for mercy until Yaakov’s ruach hakodesh is restored. The "this" in the passuk is referring to the marriage documentation.
Still we are bothered. How does Yosef's proof of marriage answer Yaakov's question? Yaakov is concerned about the Reshaim that will descend from his grandchildren. Yosef's response does not seem to address the critical issue.
The Medrash tells a tale that sheds a whole new light on the story we have been reading. In fact, Osnat is not actually the daughter of Potiphar. Potiphar and his wife were barren. Osnat is actually adopted. Her biological mother is Dinah and Osnat is the child born of Shechems rape. Yaakov feared for the child. Some say that it was because the child would be humiliated by her birth story. Others say it was because Yaakov Avinu feared that Shimon and Levi would attempt to kill the child as the progeny of Shechem. Either way, Yaakov made a decision to leave her under a thorn bush where she would hopefully be taken in by kind strangers. In fact this is where Osnat receives her name. Osnat is a derivation of the word sneh, which means thorn bush. Before leaving her, Yaakov Avinu hung a gold necklace around the child’s neck with an engraving that said “whoever marries this girls, marries the seed of Yaakov.” The Malach Michoel was then dispatched to take Osnat down to Mitzrayim so that one day she would be able to become Yosef’s wife and placed her in the home of Potiphar and his wife. Osnat grows up and becomes curious about the only item she has from her birth parents. What do these strange symbols actually mean? The writing on the necklace remained a mystery as Osnat was unsuccessful in her many attempts to find someone who could understand the language of the engraving. Little did she know that the Canaanite slave who led her father’s household would have been able to decipher its meaning. Little did Yosef know that the young daughter of his master was actually his very own niece! (This is especially interesting in light of the fact that Leah was actually pregnant with a fetus that would have become Yosef but to save Rachel from the pain of having less children than Yaakov's maid servants she davened to Hashem and the fetus became a female. That child was Dinah!)
When Yosef emerged as a leader in Mitzrayim all the women were taken by his extraordinary beauty and while he was being paraded around Mitzrayim, women would throw their jewelry at Yosef in attempt to gain his favor. Osnat threw her gold necklace at Yosef and when he picked it up he understood the engraving. Knowing that Osnat was his own niece, a granddaughter of Yaakov Avinu, Yosef took her as a wife. When Yaakov refused to bless Yosef’s children it was “this” engraving that Yosef gave to him.
While the Medrash gives us a broader picture of the history of the Shidduch between Osnat and Yosef, we have still not answered our fundamental question. Yaakov sees that the progeny of Menashe and Ephraim make them unworthy of his blessing. Now Yaakov is being presented with the engraving that he made for Osnat so many years before and his ruach hakodesh returns. But why? It seems plausible to suggest that Yaakov already knew this incredible story. One imagines that when Yaakov came down to Mitzrayim at some point Yosef told him who he married and why he thought she was an appropriate wife. Especially because the story is such an amazing example of hashgacha pratis! So if the story is not new to Yaakov why, after seeing the engraving, is he able to bless Ephraim and Menashe?
Narrating The Story Of Our Lives
Life is a story. Everyone is a character in this cosmic play we call life. We make choices as to how we want to play our role. We narrate our stories. We decide who the villain is and who the hero is. Our narration is not necessarily correct. We almost always believe that we know the story that we are a part of. In truth, the story of life has so many different characters and so many different plot lines that it impossible for us to truly know the entire story. Only the author knows where every character is and where every plot line is headed. Only the author knows the hidden stories that intersect with our own without us even knowing that they are there. Sometimes aspects of the hidden story become revealed. In these moments it as if a curtain has been lifted and we are gifted with the opportunity to see a larger portion of our story. Hidden characters become revealed. Plot lines previously unseen come to light. We were blind but now we see. The people we thought were villains may have been heroes. Heroes may have in fact been the villains. The people who reveal the hidden dimensions of our stories are called Tzaphenath Paneiach, decipherers of secrets.
Pharaoh has dreams that he cannot decipher. He knows that his dreams mean something but he doesn’t know what the message is. He asks all of his wisest advisors but no one can see to the core of what is going on.
“And Pharaoh said to Yosef, “I have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter for it, but I have heard it said of you that you understand a dream, to interpret it.” And Yosef replied to Pharaoh saying, “Not I; God will give an answer that will bring peace to Pharaoh.” (Bereishis 41:14-15)
When Pharaoh finally summons Yosef and recognizes him as someone who can see beneath the surface of the story, Yosef tells Pharaoh that it is not his wisdom but God will put the words in his mouth. Only the author of the book can tell us the upcoming plot twists. Still, it is Yosef who is the receiver of this divine wisdom and he is the revealer of the secret plots. It is God’s word placed in Yosef’s mouth that brings peace to Pharaoh as he can now adequately prepare for the coming famine.
With this in mind we can understand why Pharaoh names Yosef, Tzafnas Paneach
And as soon as Yosef is given this new appellation by Pharaoh, we are introduced to Osnat. In a fascinating plot twist, it is the adopted daughter of Potiphar and his wife, who is to become Yosef’s bride. His former master who had feelings for Yosef, and his masters’ wife who attempted to seduce him, the very same people that accused him falsely and put him in jail are now willing to accept him into their family?!?
The Alshich HaKadosh explains, Yosef was still known as a convict and a slave throughout Mitzrayim. How could he rule the country with such a poor reputation? Pharaoh comes up with a two-pronged solution.
To begin with, Pharoah gives Yosef a new name that will indicate that he far more than a slave. Not only does the word Tzafnas Paneach translate to mean the revealer of secrets but in fact the Baal HaTurim explains that that the name Tzafnas an acronym for Tzofeh (foresight), Podeh (redeemer), Navi (prophet), Somech (supporter), while Paneach is an acronym for Poser (interpreter), Anav (humble), Navon (wise), Chozeh (seer). In this way Pharoah calls attention to the fact that Yosef, with his exceptional wisdom and foresight, is responsible for saving Mitzrayim from famine. Even the Gematria of Tzafnas Paneach is the same as megaleh nistarim, revealer of secrets. The Razada D’Meir teaches that Tzafnas is the same Gematria as Keser (crown), indicating that Yosef was a King. The Ralbag even goes so far as to say that Tzafnas Paneach was the name of Pharoah's God! So, while Yosef may appear to be of simple stature, he is a man who knows the story behind the story and can protect Mitzrayim in the upcoming difficult years.
But what of Yosef’s standing as a rapist? For this Pharaoh enacts part two of his solution. What could clear Yosef’s reputation faster than marrying into the very same royal family that once accused him? With his marriage to Osnat, Yosef’s stature in the Egyptian community has been solidified and he is now fit to rule Mitzrayim.
And while this may have been Pharaoh’s intention, as always there is another story hidden beneath the surface.
Again, we all think we know the story we are a part of. Pharaoh “knew” that he was changing Yosef's name and marrying Yosef to Osnat for political reasons. That may have been what Yosef believed initially as well. Even Osnat herself thought she was throwing her jewelry at the handsome new viceroy in order to gain his favor. But in truth all of this had been set in motion years earlier when Dinah went out to Shechem. What was a terrible tragedy had another dimension that was initially unseen. Osnat was brought by the Malach Michoel to Mitzrayim so that Yosef would be set up for success. Potiphar, after hearing from his wife that Yosef attempted to rape her, initially wanted to have Yosef killed. It was Osnat who told her father the truth of what had happened. Because of her testimony Yosef was only thrown in jail. With Osnat in Mitzrayim, Yosef would have an appropriate bride with whom he could build the first exiled Jewish family. We must imagine Yosef’s surprise as he bends down and picks up the jewelry thrown at him by Osnat. Could it be that another child of Yaakov, a daughter no less, is here in Mitzrayim as well?!? Surely, in that moment, Yosef recognized the hidden divine hand at work.
So while Pharaoh thought that naming Yosef Tzafnas Paneach was a political move, in truth it is a name that carries much deeper implications.
Who knew about the sale of Yosef to Mitzrayim? Obviously only those were there at the time of the sale knew what actually happened. That would mean that the buyers (Yishmaelim), the sellers (the Shevatim) and Yosef were the only ones that knew that Yosef was sold. In truth there was one more person who knew the full story.
וַיָּקֻ֩מוּ֩ כָל־בָּנָ֨יו וְכָל־בְּנֹתָ֜יו לְנַֽחֲמ֗וֹ וַיְמָאֵן֙ לְהִתְנַחֵ֔ם וַיֹּ֕אמֶר כִּֽי־אֵרֵ֧ד אֶל־בְּנִ֛י אָבֵ֖ל שְׁאֹ֑לָה וַיֵּ֥בְךְּ אֹת֖וֹ אָבִֽיו
"And all his sons and all his daughters arose to console him, but he refused to be consoled, for he said, "Because I will descend on account of my son as a mourner to the grave"; and his father wept for him." (Bereishis 37:35)
Yaakov Avinu, upon hearing the news that Yosef was killed, refused to be consoled. The passuk ends, "and his father wept for him." The simple meaning of the passuk is that Yaakov, the father, wept for him, Yosef. Rashi quotes the Medrash that the father is actually Yitzchak who is weeping for his son Yaakov. But why is Yitzchak weeping over Yaakov? Why is he not in distress over the fact that his grandson has died? The Medrash tells us that Yitzchak actually knew that Yosef was alive in Mitzrayim. While Yitzchak understood that he could not reveal God's plan to Yaakov, he wept for Yaakov who was in pain over the loss of his son.
Thus, it comes as no surprise to us that Paneach (revealed) is the same Gematria of Yitzchak, the one to whom this plan was revealed all along.
The Sfas Emes points out that really the name ought to have been Paneach Tzafnas, Revealer of Secrets. Tzafnas means secret while Paneach means revealed. Why does Pharaoh put the secret before the revelation? The Sfas Emes answers that the core Middah of Yosef is his tznius, modesty. Yosef was so tznius that even his own brothers did not actually know who he truly was. Due to the modesty of Yosef (which expressed itself in his ability to abstain from Eishes Potiphar) he merited to see behind the curtains so to speak and to gain insight into God's master plan. This is why he is called Tzafnas Paneach (Secret Revealer) and not Paneach Tzafnas (Revealer of Secrets). Because of Yosef’s tznius, secretive, nature, God’s plan was revealed to him. From the Tzafnas came the Paneach.
Tznius is much more than how we dress. Modesty means to be appropriate. Being appropriate means being calibrated with God’s will. When God’s plan is unfolding, modesty dictates that we understand that we are not in control of anything more than the choices we make. Stepping back and allowing God’s plan to unfold can give a person deeper insight into God’s plan. In this way, Yosef came to understand the true reason he was in Mitzrayim.
Earlier we mentioned the Razada D’Meir who says that Tzafnas is the same Gematria as Keser (crown) which indicated that Yosef was a King in Mitzrayim. The Biur Yaakov points out that Osnat is the gematria of Malchusei (yud hey at the end), which means the Kingdom of God. While Pharoah thought he was making Yosef a King in Mitzrayim, this was actually all part of God's plan to reveal Himself to Mitzrayim. The Chida explains that Kedusha can be found everywhere. Even in the lowliest places like Mitzrayim it is our responsibility to aggregate the fallen sparks of Kedusha and elevate them to God.
The Torah tells us that when the famine began in Mitzrayim “the entire land of Egypt hungered, and the people cried out to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians: Go to Joseph and do what he will tell you.” (Bereishis 41:55) What was it that Yosef was asking the Egyptians to do? Why were the Egyptians without bread? Didn’t Yosef tell them to store away food in the years of plenty so that they would have food for the years of famine?
Rashi explains, “For Yosef was telling them to circumcise themselves, and when they came to Pharaoh and said ‘this is what he tells us to do,’ Pharaoh replied: ‘Why didn’t you gather the produce? Didn’t Yosef notify you that the famine years were coming?’ They said to Pharaoh, ‘We indeed gathered much produce but it rotted! He replied, ‘If that is the case, do everything he will tell you; you see that he decreed against the produce and it rotted – what if he will decree against us and we die?!”
Why does Yosef make such a strange request of the Egyptians? They have no obligation to be circumcised! In truth there was an obligation for Mitzrayim to be circumcised. The Lubavitcher Rebbe zt’L explains when God commanded Avraham in the Mitzvah of bris milah He said: “He that is born in your house or he that is acquired with your money shall surely be circumcised.” The Torah tells us that Yosef was “the ruler of the land” (Bereishis 42:6) who was appointed “over the entire land of Egypt.” (Bereishis 41:43) In fact the Torah tells us that with Yosef’s permission “no man may raise his hand in combat nor raise his foot to mount a horse in all the land of Egypt.” (Bereishis 41:44) In other words, every Egyptian was considered to be under the dominion of Yosef and were considered as if they were “acquired with his money.” In this sense, the Egyptians were obligated to be circumcised!
But why was it so critical for all of Mitzrayim to be brought under the dominion of Yosef to begin with? What is the value in the Egyptians having a Bris Milah? Avraham Avinu was promised by God “Your descendants will be strangers in a strange land, be enslaved…. And afterwards leave with great wealth.” (Bereishis 15:13,14). Hashem kept his word as the passuk says, “The Lord gave the people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians… and they emptied out Egypt.” The Gemara in Bechorot (5b) teaches that even the poorest Jew left Mitzrayim with ninety donkeys loaded with gold and silver. The deeper meaning of leaving Egypt as a wealthy nation is not material. Coming down to Egypt meant collecting, refining and elevating the holiness that is buried deep within Mitzrayim. All of Mitzrayim needed to be acquired by Yosef so that they could be obligated in Bris Milah and Egypt (the most evil place on earth) would be transformed into a Godly place. This is why when Klal Yisrael was collecting the money (sparks of kedusha) from the Egyptians, Moshe was looking for the bones of Yosef so that they could be brought into Eretz Yisrael. After all, it was Yosef who began this mission of finding Kedusha in Mitzrayim when Pharaoh named him Tzfanas Paneach. Pharaoh had political intention but it was Yosef, with his tznius, who revealed the true reason for our descent into golus.
But let us take this a step further. I would like to suggest that it was more than Osnat’s Jewish lineage that made her a suitable bride. Osnat and Yosef have something in common. They are both exiled children. Both progeny of Yaakov and both adopted by Mitzrayim. In Osnat, Yosef found someone who shared his pain. Who understood his turmoil. Who knew what it means to have a house but not a home. To be surrounded by people but to be a stranger. To hold immense power in one moment and to feel equally feeble the moment after that. The names of their children reflect this inner tension. Menashe means to forget. With his marriage to Osnat, Yosef finally feels connected in a land where for so long he has felt alone. And not just to Osnat but to Hashem as well. For years Yosef’s avodah was to nullify himself before God and to accept that there was a plan beyond his control. He sat for two extra years in jail simply because he tried to play even the slightest of roles in securing his release. Now that Yosef has ascended to power and has found a perfect wife, he has gotten a glimpse into Gods plan and feels a sense of comfort. Just as Yosef deciphered Pharaoh’s dreams which brought Pharaoh peace, so too Yosef finds peace as he begins to see the story beneath the story. The Medrash Rabbah (90:4) says that the word Paneach is actually a composite of the words Pa and Nach. Pa means to appear (as in hofia) and Nach means to rest. When the true intention of God is revealed then one can truly be at ease. Pharaoh had his tensions eased because his dreams were interpreted. Yosef got a glimpse into God’s plane with his marriage to Osnat and this brought him a sense of calm as well. Yosef forgets all the hardships he has endured but he also forgets his father’s house. With his marriage to Osnat, it becomes clear that Mitzrayim is the place where God’s plan will unfold. Mitzrayim is where Yosef will spend the rest of his life.
And yet, he names his second son Ephraim for God has made him fruitful in the land of his affliction. Which one is it? Has Yosef forgotten his troubles or is Egypt the land of his affliction? The answer is both. Yosef can now see that it was because he was placed in a land of affliction that he was able to bear fruit. From our most difficult circumstances often come our greatest achievements. Only in Mitzrayim were we able to extract the holiest of sparks that brought us to Har Sinai and ultimately into Eretz Yisrael. In retrospect the hardships are forgotten but not the affliction. We have gone through hell and back and we have emerged stronger than we were when we started. The hardships no longer seem so difficult but to say that we were not distressed is simply untrue. At this point, as Yosef, the decipherer of secrets, uncovers a new layer to his own story he is able to let go of the past, recognize the value of God’s plan and look hopefully to the future. It is no wonder that just a short couple of pesukim later Yaakov sends his sons down to Mitzrayim which in turn will lead to the actualization of Yosef’s dreams.
We Make Choices, God Makes Plans
Fast forward to Yosef bringing his sons to Yaakov so that they may receive his blessing. Yaakov wants to bless the children but the schechinah withdrew from him as he sees the wicked progeny that descend from Menashe and Ephraim. How can Yaakov bless people when he knows that his blessing will ultimately be passed on to evil men? Rashi tells us that Yosef gives Yaakov his marriage documentation. The Medrash tells us that Yosef gives Yaakov the necklace Yaakov hung upon Osnat’s neck as a child. What was it about these items that convinced Yaakov to confer the berachos upon Ephraim and Menashe? Yosef’s response to his father is the essence of the lesson he learned in golus. We can’t really know God’s story. As Tzaphenath Paneiach Yosef gets a glimpse into the “inside story” but he also knows how limited our ability is to truly know what’s going on. One moment he is deciphering the dreams of Pharaoh and in the very next moment he himself is shocked to find his niece in Mitzrayim, so that he may have an appropriate wife. It as if Yosef is saying to Yaakov, yes you know the future and you can see the evil that will descend from my children but that doesn’t mean you know the full story. Did you know that placing Osnat under that thorn bush on that fateful day would ensure that I had a suitable wife in the depths of Mitzrayim? My children were born into a kosher family because of your actions on that day. I even have the paperwork to prove it. It is not our job to look into the future because there are always unseen dimensions that we will not know. We don’t know God’s plan and so all we can do is our best to follow what we know to be his will. I did not know how I would find a pure woman in Mitzrayim but God had a plan for me. Though we see the idolatrous ways of our ancestors, the darkness that seems to wait for us in the future, we must continue to have faith in the light that surely shines beneath.
When The Fire Is Lit But Does Not Burn
It is not accidental that we read Parshas Mikeitz in the midst of Chanukah. The Maccabees lived in a time of immense darkness. The Medrash tells us that the primordial darkness is a representation of Greek culture. In a time when large amounts of Jews were Hellenized and assimilated, when our Beis HaMikdash sat in a state of ruin and impurity, a small group of men rose up and waged war against the mighty Greek army, emerging victorious. One can hear in this story the echoes of Yosef’s message to Yaakov. The Maccabees must have wondered how all this pain and destruction could be part of God’s plan and yet they also understood that they had an obligation to take care of their responsibilities and let God handle the rest. If that means taking a stand against the most powerful army in the world then so be it. Hashem’s light will never be extinguished; the only question is what role we will play in uncovering it. The story has already been written but the tale has not yet been told. Will we have the faith to believe that this is a Jewish story of hope or will we lack conviction and narrate a Greek tragedy? To be Jewish means to see the world through the prism of an anticipated future where goodness overcomes evil and light illuminates darkness. How could a Godly story yield any other result?
Osnat is named for the sneh (thornbush) that she was placed under. The light of baby Osnat was not snuffed out (as nature would dictate when a baby is abandoned to the wilderness) but was transferred to Mitzrayim where she and Yosef could illuminate the darkness. Generations later Moshe Rabbeinu will herald an end to that very same golus when he encounters a sneh that is on fire but it too is not consumed. The Gemara (Shabbat 22b, Yoma 39b) teaches us that the Neir Ma’aravi, the western lamp, of the Menorah serves as a testimony for all mankind that the schechinah dwells among the Jewish people because while the western lamp is lit, like the Sneh of Moshe Rabbeinu, the oil never actually burned. As opposed to all the other neiros which would burn the entire night and then would flame out in the morning (thus requiring the Hatavas HaMenorah, the preparing of the Menorah to be rekindled) the Neir Ma’aravi never actually went out. Finally, in the Chanukah story we know that the Neis we commemorate is not only that of the miraculous victory (though the victory certainly was an important aspect of the miracle) but of the one pure jug of oil that when lit simply would not go out. This jug of oil also represents a hidden story as we first encounter it when Yaakov returns to retrieve it from across the river prior to his encounter with Eisav. It journeys through history until this fateful moment when it is the only pure jug of oil left in the Beis HaMikdash. Hashem had already prepared the light; all we needed to do was engage the darkness and strike a match.
Blessing Children, Blessing Parents
With Yosef’s words in his ears, Yaakov is able to recapture his ruach hakodesh and bless his grandchildren. Indeed it the blessing that Jews for all generations will bestow upon their own sons every Shabbos. We bless our children that they should have the strength and fortitude to remain true to their heritage in a long and dark golus as Menashe and Ephraim did. But perhaps this beracha is a message to the parents as well. There may be times when we feel as if we “know” our children’s story. We see the path they’re going on and we (sometimes correctly) predict that it will take them on a dark path into the abyss. These children too are worthy of our blessings. We must remember that while we see a portion of their story we do not know God’s plan. Our narration should be one of faith that the pure Godly light within each child will continue to burn even in the most trying circumstances. After all, we are most fruitful when we live in a land of affliction. A parent who narrates the story of their children in a voice whose timbre is rich with hope, is also a parent who will communicate love and belonging to those very same children. We bless our children that they should be blessed as Menashe and Ephraim were blessed. To make that dream a reality we are implicitly blessing ourselves to parent as Yosef and Osnat did. To parent with the knowledge that the story has a good ending even if we don’t know yet know how all the pieces will come together.
Have a Lichtege Chanukah!