כשבא יששכר ליטול חלקו בגן עדן בדקו בספר ומצאו כתוב יששכר עסק בתורה שני ימים. עמד יששכר תמיה. אמר, אפשר אני שכל ימי לא משתי מאהלה של תורה והטיתי שכמי לסבול עולה של תורה לא יצאו לי אלא שני ימים בתורה. אמרו לו, יששכר בעולם שבאת משם חייך מנין היו? אמר להם, אח היה לי וזבולון שמו ועשה עמי שותפות. הוא יושב לחוף ימים ויוצא לפרקמטיא בספינות ומשתכר ונותן לתוך פי ואני יושב ועוסק בתורה. אמרו לו, אם כן תורתך של זבולון היא, שאלמלא זבולון שעוסק בפרקמטיא לא היית אתה עוסק בתורה וכבר אכלת עולמך בחייך. ושני ימים אלו שכתובים על שמך, אלו שני ימים שהשהה אחיך מלהביא לך את מזונותיך ואף על פי כן לא הנחת את מקומך ומשכת בעולה של תורה. אמר יששכר, ודינו של זבולון מהו? הביאו פנקסו ומצאו כתוב זבולון עסק בתורה כל ימיו חוץ משני ימים.
כיוונו את הימים ומצאו שאלו שני ימים שהשהה שכרו של יששכר. נתאנח יששכר אנחה גדולה ונשמע קולו בגן עדן. אמר זבולון, דומה עלי קול זה כקולו של יששכר אחי, אלך ואראה. מצאו ליששכר מיצר. אמר זבולון, הלוא כל הטובה שקבלתי לא באה אלא בשביל יששכר אחי שהיה עוסק בתורה, נמצא שלא אני פירנסתי את יששכר אלא שיששכר פירנס אותי ועכשיו אלך ואטול אף את חלקו בגן עדן? חס לו לזרעו של אבא. אלא ילך יששכר למקומי בגן עדן. אמר לו יששכר, וכי כך אני בעיניך אחי שאטול חלקך בגן עדן. אפשר שולחנך חסר ושולחני מלא. אמר לו זבולון, לא חלקי אלא חלקך הוא, שכל הטוב שמתוקן לי כאן לא בא אלא בזכות תורתך שלמדת.
WHEN YISSACHAR arrived in Gan Eden to receive his Heavenly reward, they examined his book and found it written: Yissachar occupied himself with the Torah for a total of two days. Yissachar was astounded. He said, "Is it possible that I, who all my life never budged from the diligent study of Torah, and always accepted all the burdens of Torah learning - I am to be rewarded for only two days of Torah study?" They said to him, "Yissachar, how did you make a living in that world that you just came from?" He said to them, "I had a brother named Zevulun, and he and I were partners. He lived by the sea and he went out on commercial ships. Since he earned enough for both of us, I sat and studied while he was working". They said to him, "If so, then all the Torah you studied is accounted to Zevelun's credit, because if not for Zevulun's work, you would not have been able to learn Torah. And therefore, you have already used up your Heavenly reward by enjoying the delights of the Torah on earth below. And as for the two days that that are written to your credit – they were two days that your brother was slow in returning with food for you, and yet, nonetheless you never flinched from your diligent study. So those two days are written to your credit". Yissachar asked them, "And what was accounted to my brother Zevulun?" They brought out Zevulun's book and found written therein: Zevulun earned the merit of Torah study all his life, except for two days. They checked the dates and found that those were the two days that Zevulun was delayed in bringing back food to Yissachar. Yissachar heaved such a great sigh that his voice was heard throughout Gan Eden. Zevulun said, "That voice sounds like the voice of my brother Yissachar". He went and found him in great straits. Zevulun turned to Heavenly court: "Isn't it true that whatever reward I received comes to me only because of my brother, Yissachar, who was always busy with the study of Torah? The truth is that it is not I who sustained Yissachar but Yissachar who sustained me! And on top of that, now I should take away his portion in Heaven also? God forbid that one of my father's sons should do that! Rather, let Yissachar take my place here in Gan Eden". Yissachar said to him, "My dear brother, can you possibly think that I would take away your place in Gan Eden? You should suffer while I enjoy myself here?" Zevulun answered him, "It's not my place but your place. Whatever good they are giving me here is only in reward for Torah that you learned". Zevulun refused to return to his place in Gan Eden because Yissachar was so upset, and Yissachar refused to occupy the place because of his affection for Zevulun.
Then the Holy One, Blessed be He, said, "Yissachar and Zevulun, each of you keeps deferring to the other. Because of such love, I will enlarge your portion in Heaven". At that moment, Zevulun's place in Heaven expanded so there was room for Yissachar, too. And to this day Yissachar and Zevulun sit in Gan Eden and study Torah together, basking in the Divine presence, while the Holy One, blessed be He, spreads His glory upon them. Because Zevulun supported Yissachar, and Yissachar supported Zevulun, the Holy One supports them both with His splendor and glory.
Yissachar and Zevulun is translated from Agnon's Elu v'Elu by Rabbi Stephen C. Listfied, Adas Israel Synagogue, Washington, D.C.
The worst disaster that struck me of late, worse than anything I had ever experienced from the time I was born until this day, was the demise of that upright man (may the memory of the righteous be a blessing), who drowned in the Indian Ocean while in possession of much money belonging to me, to him and to others, leaving a young daughter and his widow in my care. For about a year from the day the evil tidings reached me I remained prostrate in bed with a severe inflammation, fever and mental confusion, and well nigh perished.
From then until this day, that is about eight years, I have been in a state of disconsolate mourning. How can I be consoled? For he was my son; he grew up upon my knees; he was my brother, my pupil. It was he who did business in the marketplace, earning a livelihood, while I dwelled in security. He had a ready grasp of Talmud and a superb mastery of grammar. My only joy was to see him. “The sun has set on all joy.” [Isa. 24:11.] For he has gone on to eternal life, leaving me dismayed in a foreign land. Whenever I see his handwriting or one of his books my heart is churned inside me and my sorrow is rekindled… And were it not for the Torah, which is my delight, and for scientific matters, which let me forget my sorrow, “I would have perished in my affliction” [Ps. 119:92].
A Letter From Rambam About the Death of his Brother David, By Mitchell First, August 2, 2018
These Midrashim do not say that the tribe of Yissacher were simply sitting in the beis hamidrash while Zevulun brought food for them. Instead, they say that Zevulun were assisting Yissacher by marketing their produce.
The notion that the tribe of Yissacher did not work at all, aside from going against the plain meaning of the Torah, would go against the general philosophy that we find in the writings of Chazal and the Rishonim. Their view was that the ideal is for a Torah scholar to be self-supportive, but license was given for supporting those serving the community; see my monograph on "The Economics of Torah Scholarship in Medieval Jewish Thought and Practice." This is somewhat similar to the view of Rambam with regard to the nature of the financial aid that may be given to Torah scholars: the investment of funds, and assistance in business (see my post "The Truth About A Much-Abused Rambam").
See Michael Eisenberg The Tree of Life and Prosperity: 21st Century Business Principles from the Book of Genesis Hardcover – 2021, last chapter: Parshat Vayehei, The Land and the Sea. See also: https://www.hatanakh.com/es/node/45555
YISSACHAR-ZEVULUN RE-INVENTED: A SYMPTOM OF “PUSH-BUTTON” RUCHNIYUS
In fact it is questionable whether such an arrangement is legitimate or effective at all, whether it benefits the businessman providing the funds, whether it benefits the kollel receiving them, and whether it benefits Klal Yisrael.
Hilchos Choshen Mishpat, Volume III, Volume III: Number 15: ‘Yissachar Zevulan’ Arrangements, By Rabbi Aron Tendler
The Yissachar-Zevulun partnership, Speaker: Rabbi Azarya Berzon, August 11 2014
Supporting Torah learners-Yissachar and Zevulun deal, 28 December 2021 By Rabbi Yaakov Goldstein
THE RE-INVENTION OF YISSACHAR-ZEVULUN: A “PUSH BUTTON JUDAISM” DISTORTION, (Editor’s note:This letter was reviewed by members of the Va’ad Roshei Yeshivah of Torah Umesorah.)