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The last Parsha in the Torah, Parshat V'zot Habracha, is only read on Shimini Atzeret / Simchat Torah. In the Diaspora, V'Zot HaBracha is the only Parsha of the Torah not read on Shabbat, for Simchat Torah cannot fall on Shabbat. Another unusual item about V'Zot HaBracha is that unlike all other Parshiot, V'zot Habracha always falls on the same date in the Calendar: the 22nd of Tishrei (in Eretz Yisroel), and on the 23rd of Tishrei (in the Diaspora).

We read this last Parsha on Shimini Atzeret / Simchat Torah, as we complete the yearly cycle of Torah readings and then we immediately begin the cycle anew with the reading of Parshat Bereishit, to remind us that we must never think in terms of "concluding" when dealing with Torah. A Jew should always feel that in Torah, there is never an end! As soon as we finish, we must start from the beginning again.

The fourth aliyah starts with the bracha (blessing) for the Shvatim (tribes) of Zevulun and Yissachar.

"Of Zevulun he said: Rejoice, Zevulun when you go out, and Yissachar in your tents. The peoples will assemble at the mount, there they will slaughter offerings of righteousness, for by the riches of the sea they will be nourished, and by the treasures concealed in the sand."

(V'zot Habracha, 33:18-19).

Zevulun and Yissachar are blessed together in one bracha because they were partners in a cooperative relationship: Zevulun would be merchants, and take half of their profits to support Yissachar, whose occupation was to study Torah in the "Ohel," (tent).

Rashi comments that even though Yissachar was older, since Zevulun's support made Yissachar's Torah study possible, Zevulun's name is mentioned first.

Rashi also comments on the language that Zevulun will "rejoice" with his departure for business. He explains that Moshe was telling Zevulun to rejoice and succeed when going out to business, and Yissachar, succeed in your studies. The midrash explains that Moshe was telling Zevulun that he will rejoice when he leaves this world. Why? Because Yissachar is in your tent. You have an integral share in all of his reward.

The Ohr HaChaim Hakadosh, a seventeenth century Biblical commentator, also comments on the language that Zevulun will "rejoice." The reason why he will rejoice is because Zevulun knows his ventures will support the Torah study of Yissachar, his brother. Usually a businessman leaves home in pursuit of income and if and when he returns with a profit he is joyous, but not upon starting out. However, since Zevulun leaves home in pursuit of income to support Yissachar, he is assured of success, and as well immediately has the mitzvah of involving himself in the endeavor of supporting Torah scholars. This elevates all of Zevulun's energies into mitzvot. He, therefore, rejoices in these meaningful endeavors.

He adds that Zevulun does not simply work hard and then gives a nice donation to the local yeshiva. Rather, his entire being and yearning is to work for Yissachar. This realization of purpose and duty render all of his actions kodesh, (sanctified), for the Ribono Shel Olam, Hashem.

Rabbeinu Bachye says that possibly the reason for the double letter 'Sin' in Yissa(s)char's name is to indicate that his Torah learning brings a double reward, "Sin" for "Sachar" - reward, for himself, the actual Torah learner, and also for Zevulun who supports him.

The Vilna Gaon, an eighteenth century Torah scholar, understands the language of "rejoice" in a different manner. The Gaon teaches that, "the ultimate joy comes when one attains a higher level of understanding." This is why it says "S'mach Zevulun b'tzeitecha. - Rejoice, Zevulun when you go out." Moshe tells Zevulun to rejoice when he leaves this world, for then he will instantly acquire all the knowledge and understand all of the Torah that has been learned under his auspices and because of his labor.

Another benefit for a "Zevulun" can be learned from the following true story, I heard from the noted lecturer, Rabbi Yissachar Frand.

This incident occurred with Rav Eliezer Gordon (1840-1910), the founder of the Telshe Yeshiva. He married the daughter of Rav Avrohom Yitzchak Neviezer. Rav 'Leizer' Gordon had a well-deserved reputation as one of the most outstanding young men in the Jewish nation. When he became engaged, his father-in-law told him that he would support him. In those days, the son-in-law used to live in the father-in-law's house. That is how Rav Leizer Gordon was supported.

One community after another approached Rav Leizer Gordon and asked him to become their Rabbi. Every time a community approached him regarding becoming their Rav, he would ask his father-in-law for permission to take the position. Invariably, his father-in-law insisted that he remain with him, sitting and learning. His father-in-law told him not to worry, promising to continue to support him. This happened year after year.

Finally, the mother- in-law told her husband "It is already time to have our son-in-law move on. We can not support him here forever." Her husband replied, "We never know, who is supporting whom."

Eventually, Rav Gordon took a position and became a community Rabbi.

The day after he left his father-in-law's house, his father-in-law passed away.

We never know who supports whom -- who is the "carrier" and who is being "carried". Rav Leizer Gordon was supporting his father-in-law, not the other way around.

However, even when those dollars go towards the supreme goal of supporting Torah study, the Torah role of a working person is not limited to bringing home the dollars. Far from it. As the Torah states…..

"…For by the riches of the sea they will be nourished.."

Rashi says that this bracha of deriving wealth from the sea will free up Yissachar and Zevulun, allowing them to learn Torah. It is insufficient for Zevulun to only support the Torah study of Yissachar. Even those who support Torah study are obligated to study Torah themselves.


"The peoples will gather at the mount, there they will slaughter offerings of righteousness..."

What does the Torah mean by mentioning people gathering at the mount and slaughtering offerings? What's the connection to Zevulun or Yissachar?

Rashi quotes a lovely and remarkable Midrash (Sifrei 354): "Through the business of Zevulun, merchants of the nations of the world will come to his land, since he was at the border. And they [the non-Jewish merchants] will say: 'Since we have gone to the trouble of traveling to this point, let us go to Jerusalem and let us see what the G-d of this nation is, and what are this nation's practices.' There [in Jerusalem] they will see all of Israel worshipping one G-d, and eating the same food -- for among the nations, the god of this one is not like the god of another, and the food of this one is not like the food of another. Then they will say: 'There is no nation as proper as this one,' and they will convert to Judiasm there [in Jerusalem], as it says: 'there they will slaughter offerings of righteousness.'"

Zevulun, working out in the world, unwittingly helped bring people to Judaism!

A Jew today, in business or the professions, can make the same enormous spiritual impact on his/her fellow employees--Jew and non-Jew. How? By being a 'mensch,' by exemplifying the nobility of a Torah lifestyle. Like it or not, we are all walking ambassadors of our faith and our people.

This, we may say, is the goal of the whole Torah, and of every individual in the Torah nation, scholar, doctor, housewife, rabbi, laborer: to make a kiddush Hashem, to sanctify G-d's name, to make the G-d of Israel and the Torah more beloved in the eyes of mankind. May we all be worthy, whatever our post or station in life, to increase kiddush Hashem in the world!

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