(בֵּן פֹּרָת יוֹסֵף בֵּן פֹּרָת עֲלֵי-עָיִן בָּנוֹת צָעֲדָה עֲלֵי-שׁוּר” (בראשית מט”
Where does our school’s name, Ben Porat Yosef, come from?
Our kids are here, at this amazing school…we see and say the name every day…but what does it mean??
In Parashat Vayechi, Yaakov Avinu knows that he is about to leave this world. He gathers his twelve sons, the roots of our nation and father figures of our people, to give them each a blessing. Each son receives a blessing consistent with his nature. Zevulun will have commercial success, Issachar, diligence and scholarship, Yehuda, leadership and so on. After Yaakov blesses each son individually, he repeats the private blessings for all of his sons to hear. What the Torah is trying to teach us here is that, while we each have our own areas in which we excel, it is important that we engage in all mitzvot, not only those within our natural comfort zones. The businessman needs to set aside time for Torah study, just as the Torah scholar needs to be charitable. Yaakov wants his children to enjoy all forms of spiritual worship and his blessings, which enable his sons to transcend their limitations, endow us and our children, with that wonderful ability as well. All Jews, regardless of background and level of observance, are equal heirs to Yaakov’s blessings. No mitzvah is beyond our potential.
When Yaakov gets to Yosef, his favorite son, he declares, “Ben porat yosef, ben porat alei ayin, banot tzaadah alei shur.” “Yosef is a charming and beautiful son, a fruitful vine by the spring. Egyptian girls would step along a wall to stare at his beauty.” Because Yosef was protected from the envy of all creatures and was a person unharmed by others, his name has become synonymous with abundance, protection against the ayin hara (evil eye), fertility, beauty and splendor. The blessing that Yaakov gave Yosef, which embodies the ultimate wishes that a parent would want to bestow upon their child, is what inspired the founders of our school to choose the name Ben Porat Yosef.
On Friday night when you bless your children as demonstrated by Yaakov, reflect on their wonderful and unique qualities. And on Shabbat of Parashat Vayechi, when you hear the baal koreh read aloud “Ben Porat Yosef,” from the Torah, give a little cheer for BPY! You will have a better understanding of Yaakov’s great blessings to his sons and the name of our outstanding school.