Friday, November 08, 2013

the reason for the name Yis(as)char and how to pronounce it

Public service announcement: Now that we’ve changed the clock sof zman kri’as shema is much earlier, e.g. in NY the zman is now around 9:00 (acc to GR”A), so if you start davening at 9:00, or even 8:45, you are not going to make it.  The M”B (Sha’ar haTzion 241:4) writes that it is better to daven b’yechidus than to daven outside the zman (as is the view of RYBS), but I’m not your Rabbi, so don’t ask me what to do.  I never understood why so many shuls have 9:00 start times, but that’s just me.

I wanted to add one other little idea from the Berdichiver to the discussion we had yesterday about the naming of Yisachar.  The Torah prefaces the birth Yisachar with the words, “Vayishma Elokim el Le’ah…” (30:17)  What did Hashem hear – there was no tefilah on Leah’s part here?  Rashi explains that Hashem “heard” the desire that Leah demonstrated to be the mother of more of the shevatim (R’ Shteiman is medayeik: more shevatim – not simply more children.)  Leah’s tefilah was not a tefilah of words, but a tefilah of action. 

What action is Rashi talking about? 

Lichorah, Rashi is referring to the fact that Leah gave up the dudaim in order to be with Ya’akov.  But that begs the question: how do we know that Leah was in fact motivated l’shem shamayim because she wanted to be the mother of more shevatim?  Maybe she just wanted to spend more time with her husband Ya’akov?

The proof of Leah’s sincerity, says the Berdichiver, is the reason she gave for choosing the name Yisachar.  Leah does not give the reason as “sachor sicharticha,” her hiring of Ya’akov with the dudaim, as that could have been done for any reason.  She instead gives the reason as “nasati shifchasi l’ishi,” her giving of her maid to Ya’akov for another wife.  Had Leah been thinking only of herself, she would never have given Ya’akov yet another wife to occupy his time.  Her actions could only be explained by her being motivated l’shem shamayim to produce more shevatim through the surrogate of her shifcha. 

The gemara (Nidah 31) darshens the pasuk “Yisachar chamor garem” (49:15) to mean that Hashem himself helped out in Yisachar’s conception by guiding Ya’akov’s donkey to Leah’s tent when he came home.  “Chamor garem” – his birth was caused by the chamor, the donkey.  Maharal and others often interpret “chamor” as a hint to chomriyus, materialism.  I would like to suggest that Chazal are trying to teach us that where the motivation is l’shem shamayim, your ruchniyus is already at the goal line, Hashem will arrange for the chamor=chomriyus, for the physical means to follow. 
Perhaps one can even say that it was Leah's l'shem shamayim here that caused sheivet Yisachar to have a special bracha of success in limud haTorah. 

Why do we read the name as "Yisachar" as if it is spelled with a single letter "sin" instead of the double-letter?  Why don't we read it as "Yisaschar?"  Based on the hesber we gave yesterday, that the second letter hints (see Rashbam) to “sachor sicharticha,” it could be that Leah not only avoided giving voice to those words, but she also avoided saying the name in a way that would reveal the hint.  The Da’as Zekeinim b’Ba’alei haTosfos gives a different reason.  In Parshas vaYigash the Torah lists “Yov” among the children of Yisachar.  In Parshas Pinchas there is no Yov listed, but there is a “Yashuv.”  The Da’as Zekeinim explains that Yov sounds like the name of an avodah zarah, so Yisachar gave up a letter sin/shin from his name and added it to his son’s name.  (Is there is a shortage of letters?  Why couldn’t he just add a letter without borrowing it from his own name?  Tzarich iyun).  Based on this hesber, it seems that at least here, in Parshas VaYeitzei, when Yisachar is born, the name should be read as “Yisaschar”, with the double-letter, as at this point he had no son yet and that was his name.  R’ Chaim Kanievski in Ta’ama D’Kra affirms that this was the Chazon Ish’s practice.  I have heard other ba’alei kri’ah have the minhag to read it as Yisaschar (double-letter) through Parshas Pinchas and make the switch from that point onward.  As for those who don’t do this, they must assume it is a kri u’kesiv.


  1. Speaking of kri and ksiv - ninth word, first line, last paragraph "as" is kri v'lo ksiv

    1. The 9th word is "if?" But I see there is a double-a there that I needed to correct.
      It's hard enough to make time to write -- proofreading and editing is hidus mitzvah.

    2. what I meant is - after the "Yisachar" there is a missing "as", as if it said "as if".
      Your reply is similar to a comment printing in my old mishnayos that something is
      a ta'us had'fum. I assume you meant hidur mitzvah.

      Shabbat Shalom, and remember that menucha is critical - it is what was created on Shabbos.

  2. R' Hai Gaon and R Mishael ben Uziel (Seifer haChilufin), record a machloqes beween saying "Yis-sakhar" and "Yish-sakhar".

    The Mesoretes both have "Yissakhar", but Ben Asher has the first sin degushah with a qamtatz, and the second sin without niqud -- no q'ri, just kesiv. Ben Naftali givves the first one a sheva and the second a qamatz. In both cases the q'ri ends up a doubled sin with a qamatz, although Ben Naftali's pointing violates norms by having a sheva nach between identical letters.
    the other is Yish-sakhar. There is a meshubeshes copy of Ben Naftali from which is the earliest documentation of Yisaskhar. But the majority and the manuscripts are as I wrote. (H/T R/Dr David Bannet)

    The idea of reading it differently once is probably related to an acharon's clever vort about one of Yissachar's sons being listed as Yov and Yishuv, and when the extra shin is freed up for his father's name. R' Shelomo Dubno, R' Wolf Heidenheim,
    and R' Shelomo Netter all objected to the innovation.

    (In case you couldn't guess from my quoting such sources, it is a recurring Avodah and Mesorah topic.)

    1. I won't even ask how you pronounce the name of the munkatcher's sefer Bnei Yis...
      : )

    2. I dovened for many years in a Minkatcher shtiebel, whose Rov was the world-renowed Rav Yitzchok Sternhell, ZTvK"L, and they pronounced it with a double-sin. IIRC.

  3. Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveichik said the minhag in Volozhin, based on the Daas Z'kaynim, was until Yashuv's name appears in Chumash we always read it as Yissaschar - until Parshas Pinchas (See Nefesh Harav p 308)