By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir
“Israel reached out with his right hand and placed it on Ephraim’s head, even though
he was the younger son. He placed his left hand on Manasseh’s head. He deliberately crossed
his hands, even though Manasseh was the firstborn” (Genesis 48:14).
“‘That’s not the way it should be done, Father,’ said Joseph. ‘The other one is the
firstborn. Place your right hand on HIS head.’ His father refused and said, ‘I know, my son, I
know. The older one will also become a nation. he too will attain greatness. But his younger
brother will become even greater...’” (verses 18-19).
Rashi explains: “Jacob placed his hands with wisdom and intelligence.” He knew that
Manasseh was the firstborn, and still did not place his right hand on him. His reasoning was
that from Ephraim would emerge Joshua, son of Nun, who would distribute the tribal
portions and would teach Torah to Israel. By virtue of this, Ephraim merited more greatness
Today, our generation parallels that of Joshua son of Nun, who came up to the Land
and conquered it after forty years in the wilderness. We, in turn, are coming up to the Land
and settling it after two thousand years of exile in the wilderness of the nations.
In Joshua’s generation, the two most important national missions were to conquer the
Land and to learn Torah, as G-d told him, “Be strong and of good courage, for unto this
people shall you divide the land for an inheritance, which I swore unto their fathers to give
them. Only be strong and of good courage, that you may observe to practice this whole
Torah which Moses My servant commanded you” (Joshua 1:6-7).
In our own generation as well, the two most important missions that we face are (1)
moving to Israel and settling the Land, and (2) learning Torah and returning to our Jewish
roots. In fact, the two are interdependent. The more rooted we become in our holy Torah, the
more our connection and affinity to Eretz Yisrael will be strengthened, and the more Jews
who move to the Land and take root in it, the greater the Torah’s glory will be.
Through all such efforts, may we merit to see with our own eyes G-d’s granting
strength to His people and blessing them with peace.
Looking forward to complete salvation,