This week’s parshah is full of blessings that Yaakov gives his children and grandchildren. The latter received a blessing that some say nightly and that has been turned into a well-known song:
May the angel who redeems me from all that is bad, bless the young boys and may my name be called upon them, and names of my forefathers Avraham and Yitzchak and may they proliferate abundantly like the fish within the land.
הַמַּלְאָךְ הַגֹּאֵל אֹתִי מִכָּל רָע יְבָרֵךְ אֶת הַנְּעָרִים וְיִקָּרֵא בָהֶם שְׁמִי וְשֵׁם אֲבֹתַי אַבְרָהָם וְיִצְחָק וְיִדְגּוּ לָרֹב בְּקֶרֶב הָאָרֶץ:
1. What do you think is meant by asking that the next generation be known by the name of his grandfather, and great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather? Think of at least two different possibilities. Which appeals to you the most?
2. In what way/s do you think your ancestor’s name is carried on through you? (Note that it does not necessarily mean having the same first name, for after all, none of Yosef’s children were named after their ancestors.)
3. The Sfat Emet wrote that there is a spark of the Avot in each and every one of us. That is why the Shemoneh Esrei begins with referring to them (אלקי אברהם, אלקי יצחק, אלקי יעקב), for it is through them that we can more easily cleave to Hashem.
Which sparks of the Avot can you recognize in yourself?
1. In many homes, there is a custom on Friday nights for fathers (and/or mothers) to bless their daughters with the blessing ישימך אלקים כשרה, רבקה, רחל ולאה. What would you like your parent specifically to have in mind when they bless you with the quality of one of the Emahot? Pick one of the Matriarchs and one defining characteristic that you would ideally, realistically, like to share with her.
2. Is there some step you could take to make that characteristic more a part of yourself?
Turn to your chavruta and give her the blessing that she described as wanting for herself e.g. “May Hashem make you like Rivkah with the characteristic of…” or “that you may…”