You have something which is very special. It’s yours for life. It will go with you wherever you go. You don’t have to pay for it, carry it, guard it, or make room for it. You didn’t even have to work to get it.

Do you know what it is?

It’s your name!

Some people are named after great men or great women. Others are named after relatives who passed away.

Sometimes people are given names which tell us about events in their lives. Adam’s name comes from the word adamah, earth, because G‑d created Adam from the earth. Moses' name comes from the word moshui, “pulled in,” because the basket Moses was lying in was pulled in from the Nile River.

Some names tell us about wishes, thoughts or ideas connected with the person. Rachel's first child was born after many years of waiting, so he was named Joseph, which means “add.” While she was waiting, Rachel had wished and prayed that G‑d would bless her with an additional son.

Later, Joseph called his own children by names which tell us what he wished and hoped for.

Joseph named his firstborn son Manasseh, from the word nasho, “forget.” Joseph did not want his family to forget where they came from or who they were. The name Manasseh was a reminder, as if someone was constantly saying: Let us not forget that we are the descendants of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, Rachel and Leah even though we are now living in Egypt. Wherever Jews may be, they must always remember who they are.

Joseph knew that G‑d sent the Jews into to Egypt for a purpose. They were not supposed to struggle through the exile in Egypt merely remembering that they are Jews. They were supposed to make the exile fruitful, like a garden which flowers and blooms. By using everything to do good deeds, we can make the world into a dwelling place for G‑d. Wishing to do this, Joseph named his second son Ephraim, which comes from the Hebrew word for fruitful.

This week’s Torah portion tells us how Jacob blessed Manasseh and Ephraim. Even though Manasseh was older, Ephraim received the greater blessing. Ephraim represemts the real purpose of exile, that a Jew should prosper and be fruitful in the Torah way. That’s why Jacob gave him the greater blessing.

Still, Manasseh is the older brother and he comes first. This also teaches us an important lesson. Ephraim can only succeed and be fruitful because Manasseh constantly reminds him who he is and where he comes from.