The Sedra, Vayechi, this week is not just the final Sedra of Bereishit with the death of both Jacob and Joseph but also with both of them seeing a third generation. In Jacobs’s case it was Ephraim and Manasseh, the first set of brothers in the Torah who do not fight one another.
The custom of blessing our children rose up in the Middle Ages when the custom was to bless our children just before Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur. Later the custom grew to a blessing before Shabbat and Festivals. We bless our sons with” May you be as Ephraim and Manasseh” and our daughters with “may you be as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah” We do not need to be close to the end of our lives to bless our children.
When we are young we think we have a mission to change the World. As we get older we realise that this is impractical, but we can change the society around us. When we realise that is also unlikely then we hope to guide our families. We bless them.
Maimonides taught in the Guide to the Perplexed that “Everyone entrusted with a mission is an angel”