Yissachar stepped forward.
“Yissachar, your tribe will bear the responsibility of intense Torah study, like a donkey that carries a heavy burden. You will devote your time to learning the holy words of the Torah day and night. As for your land? Do not worry. You have my blessing that your portion of Eretz Yisrael will be fertile and fruitful. In addition, many of your children will merit to become members of the great Sanhedrin – the Supreme Court in Jerusalem.”
Have you ever worked very hard on a project, and then everything got ruined at the very last moment, leaving you with nothing at all? Our efforts can sometimes go to waste. Life is just not fair.
Torah study is different. Hashem doesn’t only care about how much you learn and how much you understand. He also rewards you according to your effort. Even if you spend an hour trying to understand a Torah concept and you still don’t get it, you get rewarded.
In fact, this is hinted to in the name of the scholarly tribe, Yissachar (יִשָּׂשָׂכָר), which can be broken into two words, יֵשׁ שכר, meaning “there is reward.”
When you learned to read English, your teacher probably taught you, “When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking.” (Such as boat, meat, train, pail, rain, brain, soap, say, neat, beat, dream, pain, and plain.) Indeed, English is full of silent letters, which are not pronounced. Hebrew is different; just about every letter in a word should be read aloud.
But every rule has an exception. One such exception is the name “Yissachar.” Look carefully, and you will see that it has an extra ש, so that it looks as if you should pronounce it Yissaschar. So why is the second ש silent?
As mentioned in the previous “Insight,” Yissachar is associated with Torah study. The Torah can be divided into two parts. There is the “revealed” part of Torah that everyone knows about and studies. And then there is the “hidden” part (Kabbalah) that is whispered about by a select few. Just like the Torah has a known part and a silent part, so does Yissachar have a known ש and a silent ש. (And of course, just to spice things up, there are some people who do pronounce the second ש. No great sin there.)