ישׂשכר חמר גרם רבץ בין המשׁפתים׃
וירא מנחה כי טוב ואת־הארץ כי נעמה ויט שׁכמו לסבל ויהי למס־עבד׃
"Yissakhar is a strong donkey lying down in the sheep sheds. On seeing how good is settled life and how pleasant the country, he will bend his back to the burden, and submit to forced labor. (Gen 49:14-15 CJB)
YISSACHAR WHO BEARS THE BURDEN
FOR THE END OF DAYS.
Before his death, Jacob commented on each of his children. As he introduced what we call his “blessings” over his children, he says, “ "Gather yourselves together, and I will tell you what will happen to you in the acharit-hayamim.”(Gen 49:1) “Achareit-Hayamim” is a Hebrew terminology that means, “At the end of days”. Jacob was prophesying things that had to do with the end-time.
BLESSING OVER YISSACHAR.
Of Yissachar he said, "On seeing how good is settled life and how pleasant the country, he will bend his back to the burden, and submit to forced labor (Gen 49:15). A more literal translation from the Hebrew would read, “Yissachar saw that rest was good. He bowed his shoulder to bear!”
Jacob foresaw that as a tribe, Yissachar would have a love for Torah study. He saw that Yissachar would understand that proper Torah understanding depends on rest and peace of mind. That’s what Jacob meant when looking into the future he said that Yissachar, “Saw that rest was good.” Jacob envisioned Yissachar as a tribe in the desert looking forward to the rest in the Land of Milk and Honey. But life in the desert would be anything but peaceful so by, “He bowed his shoulder to bear”, Jacob saw that Yissachar would make sure to learn to bear with everything that came his way while not letting it affect this personal peace of mind that is essential for Torah understanding. By training himself to bear with any difficulties, Yissachar would reach the highest levels of peace of mind in all situations.
Daat Torah on Bereshit says, “When one reaches the proper level of training, nothing will be able to take away his serenity. Therefore in reference to Yissachar the Torah states, ‘He saw that rest was good.’”
Yissachar would teach himself to have that inner peace, that shalom that passes all understanding (Phil 4:7), even while in the midst of complicated difficulties.
As a result, Yissachar became the tribe of studies. Its reputation is mentioned later in “Of the descendants of Yissakhar, men who understood the times and knew what Isra'el ought to do, there were 200 leaders, …” (1Ch 12:32)
WHERE DOES INTERNAL PEACE/SHALOM COME FROM?
In the desert, Issachar would learn that peace of mind has very little to do with external circumstances.
People who rely on external circumstances in order to find peace will always be disappointed. Why? Because we cannot control anything around us. Issachar learned about peace in the desert, in the place where there is very little comforts, conveniences, and luxuries. In the place where he is totally dependant on HaShem.
WHAT DO WE LEARN FROM THIS?
If we are used to only have peace of mind when everything is OK, we are bound to remain in constant confusion because things are seldom OK. But when a person like Yissachar, learns to find peace in the midst of a “storm” he has now acquired a peace that is independent of his environment and that is the peace of mind that is essential to understand Torah.
That is why HaShem had to take Israel through the desert. It is only in the midst of dire situations where we are in total dependence to Him that we learn to find the kind of internal peace that is necessary to learn Torah. Our lives may never be ideal. Our needs may never be fully met. Our outward living conditions may never be conducive to Torah study. Like Yissachar, we have to train ourselves to bear difficulties with peace.
But how do we do it?
LOOK TO THE MASTER!
Ancient Greek athletes drew their strength by training in unfavorable condition. They used to train with weights on their ankles so on the day of the race, they took off these weights and literally flew on the tracks (Heb 12:1).
At a contest for the greatest painting illustrating peace, many had painted quiet pastoral scenes. The painting that won the prize was one of a roaring and raging torrent breaking everything in its path. If one looked carefully at the painting, he could see a nest with a bird peacefully singing on a branch taken down by the raging waters.
Service dogs are taught to focus on their prime duty to their master while being subjected to noisy distractions and temptations. This teaches them to stay focused even when conditions are less than ideal. His trainer puts a piece of meat on the ground and says, “No!” The dog knows that he is not supposed to eat that piece of meat so he intently stares at the face of his master. He dares not look at that meat. He knows that then the temptation would then be too strong, so he just stares at his master.
The dog has a lesson for us here. If we want to have that peace that passes all understanding, if we want to have the internal peace that is essential to the proper study of Torah, if we want to stay focused on our mission and responsibility, we must keep our eyes on the Master.
PATRIARCHS OF FAITH.
Jacob foresaw Yissachar as a tribe dedicated study; as a tribe who understood the times; as a tribe who symbolized the peaceful spiritual scholarly attributes of Israel. But peace, true peace has eluded Israel since its inception. As such, Jacob and Yissachar can be called patriarchs, as they died not having received the promises of peace for Israel (Heb 11;123).
May we also believe in those promises of a Land of peace and rest no matter what happens around us. The early pioneer of modern Israel believed it or they would never have moved in.
May we like Yissachar, bear the burden that we may have the peace that passes all understanding in spite of external condition until that Day, until such a day when peace will be the hallmark of the Land where HaShem has chosen to put His Name.
R' Gavriel lUMBROSO