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 HaShem created Adam from the earth. Moshe Rabbeinu's name comes from the word moshui, "pulled in" because the basket Moshe was lying in was pulled in from the Nile River.
Some names tell us about wishes, thoughts or ideas connected with the person. Rachel Imeinu's first child was born after many years of waiting, so he was named Yosef, which means "add." While she was waiting, Rachel wished and prayed that HaShem would bless her with an additional son.
Later, Yosef called his own children by names which tell us what he wished and hoped for.
Yosef named his first born son Menasheh, from the word nasho, "forget." Yosef did not want his family to forget where they came from or who they were. The name Menasheh was a reminder, as if someone was constantly saying: Let us not forget that we are the descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, even though we are now living in Egypt. Even when Jews are in golus, they must always remember who they are.
Yosef knew that HaShem sent the Jews into golus for a purpose. They are not just supposed to struggle through the golus and remember that they are Jews. They are supposed to make the golus fruitful, like a garden which flowers and blooms. By using everything in the golus for the Torah and its mitzvos, we make the world a dwelling place for HaShem. Wishing for this, Yosef named his second son Ephraim, which comes from the Hebrew word for fruitful.
This week's parshah tells us how Yaakov Avinu blessed Menasheh and Ephraim. Even though Menasheh was older, Ephraim received the greater blessing. Ephraim shows us the purpose of golus - that a Jew should prosper and be fruitful in the Torah way. That's why Yaakov gave him the greater blessing.
Still, Menasheh is the older brother and he comes first. This also teaches us an important lesson. Ephraim can succeed and be fruitful in golus because Menasheh constantly reminds him who he is and where he comes from.
Like Menasheh and Ephraim, we are living in golus and must remember the lessons both of their names teach. But we have to remember another lesson Yosef taught. Yosef told the people pekod pekadeti - the geulah would come, and HaShem would take them back to Eretz Yisrael.
(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. V, Hosafot, Parshas Vayechi)