Sharing Torah Insights

Who supports whom?

Posted on י״א בתשרי ה׳תשע״ה (October 5, 2014) | in Sefer Devarim, V'Zot Ha'Beracha | by

soldierHareidi In parshat v’Zot HaBeracha, Moshe Rabbeinu blesses each of the Shevatim of the Jewish people (except Shimon). Each tribe gets, their own blessing, but for some reason, the blessings of the tribes of Yissachar and Zevulun are bundled up together into one bracha.

וְלִזְבוּלֻן אָמַר, שְׂמַח זְבוּלֻן בְּצֵאתֶךָ; וְיִשָּׂשכָר, בְּאֹהָלֶיךָ

And of Zevulun he said: Rejoice, Zevulun, in your going out, and, Yissachar, in your tents. – Devarim 33:18

Rashi, as well as most of the commentators, presents the well-known symbiotic relationship between Yissachar and Zevulun. Yissachar and Zevulun made a partnership, whereby the tribe of Yissachar would spend all of its time learning, and Zevulun would go out and engage in commerce, in order to provide for themselves as well as to support the tribe of Yissachar. This support was so fundamental, that Zevulun was mentioned first in the Bracha, even though Yissachar is the older of the two.

(Rabbeinu Bachaya brings a nice side point, that usually people don’t rejoice so much when they start their business, but are more joyful when they return, having succeeded at making the money they had set out to make. Yet the Bracha here says that Zevulun are rejoicing in their “going out”. He answers by saying that since Zevulun were going out on a holy mission, to provide food not just for themselves but also for Yissachar, they were certain even from the very beginning that they would be successful, and rejoiced even then.)

The Netziv in HaEmek Davar, brings a radically different, and yet very similar answer to the question of why the brachot are bundled together. He says that usually, the term “בְּצֵאתֶךָ”, “going out”, refers to going out to war. We see in many places (for example Parshat Matot with the war with Midian), that whenever the Jewish people would go to war they would appoint soldiers to fight and an equivalent number of people to pray and learn for the welfare and success of those soldiers. The Daveners would go out to the military encampment near the soldiers, and provide the spiritual support that the soldiers needed in order to win the battle.

The Netziv says that Zevulun were the warriors, not the businessmen Rashi explained above, and Yissachar were their spiritual support. This is why it says “וְיִשָּׂשכָר, בְּאֹהָלֶיךָ”, “and, Yissachar, in your tents.” Yissachar was not sitting in the comfort of their homes while learning. When Zevulun went to war, Yissachar accompanied them, going to the battlefield to provide the religious support that their symbiotic partners needed, through prayer and learning.

May we reach a point soon where we are all able to care for and provide the spiritual and physical needs of each other, and may it not be necessary to do so through the framework of war.

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