Some of you gave pretty learned responses, and I am again impressed with the erudition of my readers. The question was:
Efraim, the younger brother, was going to have greater descendants than Menashe, which is the simple reason why Yakov wanted to give Efraim the better blessings. Why couldn't Yakov give the better blessings to Menashe, which would then cause his descendants to be greater?
The answers you guys gave were all according to Chassidus and Kabbala, how the Avoda of Efraim worked more with Yakov's, etc.
The question was more general, though. I asked why couldn't Yakov give the blessings and cause Menashe's descendants to be greater?
The answer I was looking for:
The Rebbe explains in a sicha (somewhere) what is known in Chassidus about the difference between a Tefillah and a Bracha. Basically, Yakov could not give Menashe a bracha that would make his descendants greater.
When you give someone a bracha, you are just bringing down something which was slated for that person anyway, but was in a concealed state, and you are revealing it to come down for him here. The word 'bracha' comes from the word 'beraicha' (similar to beraika, but without the potato and spinach) which means a pool of water. It's as if you have a huge pool of goodness above your head, which Hashem decided you get if you deserve it. A bracha draws down from this pool. It cannot draw something higher that was not predestined for you.
That's what a Tefillah is for. Through davening, you can create a new G-dly Desire for someone.
Of course, some special brachos do have the ma'aleh of tefillah also. I believe Birkas Kohanim is one example, although to some opinions it is a bracha from Hashem, just transmitted through the Kohanim.
Anyway, have a good Shabbos.
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