May God Make You Like...

Who can forget the iconic Sabbath Blessing duet from the movie "Fiddler on the Roof"? The parents in each household in the shtetl, the Jewish village, make, in essence, (although in English) the same blessing over their children as their ancestors made, and as we say today,

" May God make you like Ephraim and Menashe", for boys, and

"May God make you like Sarah, Rivka, Rahel and Leah" (Some put Leah first, as she became Jacob's wife before her younger sister, who was promised to him, did, but that's another story), for girls.

Like many of you, I never thought to question or examine this more deeply, because, as another song lyric goes, "Tradition, Tradition!"

Rosh Hashanah presents us with an opportunity to revisit these origin stories; to question and to examine. Some questions might be along these lines:

1) Why do we bless our sons in the names of Ephraim and Menashe, who were Joseph's sons, rather than our founding fathers, Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov, who figure so prominently in the High Holy Day liturgy?

2) Why do we bless our daughters by these particular founding mothers? What character traits did they possess, and what are we saying by calling blessings forth in their names?

3) What about Hagar? She also saw God, and she also was married to Avraham, and birthed our cousins?

4) What about Jacob's other wives? Why aren't they mentioned?

In the coming weeks, as I study a bit more, and synthesize what I've learned, I will share more. In the meantime, you can read what I've previously written about the matriarchs and Hagar, and see some examples of headdresses I made to honor them, at




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