The Sixties Radical-Azriel

Yes, we are to protect our Jewish identity and survive but our primary purpose as Jews is to share the good news of redemption and salvation to the rest of the world.

This is battle with in all of us Jews. G-d didn’t want us to choose. We are to do both. This is the purpose of us Jews on this earth.

Jacob then surprised Joseph further by giving Ephraim precedence over Manasseh, even though Manasseh was older.

[Jacob told Joseph,] “But his younger brother will become greater than he.” Genesis 48:19

As we have seen, Manasseh represents our obligation to protect ourselves from the negative influences of our surroundings. Ephraim, in contrast, represents our obligation to influence our surroundings, to redeem ourselves and the world from exile. Since before influencing the world we must ensure that we are protected from its temptations, Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh, and wished to give him precedence in receiving Jacob’s blessing, as well.

In granting his blessing, however, Jacob focused on the purpose of our descent into exile: not mere spiritual survival, but the spiritual growth that results from our successful encounter with exile. Jacob therefore gave precedence to Ephraim.

Likewise, in our exile: although – just like Manasseh is the firstborn – securing our Jewish identity is the first step, our main purpose is to be an Ephraim, to positively influence the world around us.1 Likutei Sichot, vol. 15, pp. 432–434, vol. 5, pp. 459 ff. See Rashi on 25:26, above. See Likutei Sichot, vol. 20, pp. 241–242.


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