…He bent his shoulder to the burden…
Parsha and its fulfillment - Parashat Vayechi - Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald - 5769
The story of last week's fall of Staff Sergeant Yuval Mor-Yosef, who was a student at the Kiryat-Ono Hesder Yeshiva, opens a window to the revolution that began about two decades ago. To the wonderful stories of religious high school graduates who did not study in high school Yeshivas and integrate wonderfully into Hesder Yeshivas.
At the end of the Parasha, Yaakov blesses his sons. In his blessing to Yissachar it is said: "Issachar is a strong-boned ass, crouching among the sheepfolds. When he saw how good was security, and how pleasant was the country, he bent his shoulder to the burden, and became a toiling serf". (Bereshit 49;14). Rashi explains two unique interpretations of Yissachar's achievements in the study of the Torah, in the merit of " He bent his shoulder to the burden." The second indicates the unique ability of the tribe of Issachar on the battlefield because of the same attribute: " He bent his shoulder to the burden - the yoke of Torah. And all his brethren Israel. And instruct them on the Torah, as it is written in Divrei Ha-Yamim 1,12:33- "of the Issacharites, men who knew how to interpret the signs of the times, to determine how Israel should act; their chiefs were 200, and all their kinsmen followed them", the two hundred heads of the Sanhedrin, and all his brothers, according to them. And Unkelos translated differently: Burden, as if he had to suffer - wars and conquest of districts that they were sitting on, and the enemy was occupied under him"(Rashi ibid.).
The willingness to make an effort, to cope with difficulties, and to bear the burden, is a quality that produces fruit in the world of Torah, and the growth of the sons of Issachar, as many Rabbis of Sanhedrin. And it also produces fruit in battle when a supreme effort is required.
It is not by chance that these two interpretations were given to the same Pasuk. These two areas derive from a common root. The heroism on the battlefield and the spiritual heroism required for growing up in the Torah are two sides of the same coin. This principle was also found in the First Amalek War, when Moshe commanded Yehoshua to choose the fighters for the mission: “Pick some men for us and go out and do battle with Amalek." (Shmot 17: 9). What are the characteristics by which the fighters were chosen? "Choose us men — brave men, and men who fear sin— choose these so that their merit may stand them in good stead". (Rashi, ibid.), Meaning that the fighters were chosen according to their physical courage and moral and spiritual qualities. The Netziv understood that they were two sides of the same coin of heroism: "'Choose us men' - heroes of war in the natural way. And heroes in the war for the Torah.
With the return of the Jewish people to Israel, we are re-discovering that there is a close connection between the two, between heroism in the study of Torah and heroism in the battlefield, and between strengthening the motivation for Torah study and strengthening the motivation for meaningful service in the IDF.
About 20 years ago, Rabbi Yehoshua Weizmann initiated a new course of action: open the gates of Hesder Yeshivas to the large public of religious high school graduates; to make the Torah world accessible and enable them to join a meaningful Torah study combined with high quality military service.
In the early years of the Hesder Yeshiva, religious high school students were unable to attend Yeshivas. There were technical and legal limitations, as well as learning gaps that prevented them from integrating. Only a few succeeded. Today, every year, there are hundreds of high school graduates who join Hesder Yeshivas. Some of them have become very successful and are currently serving as important Rabbis.
Yuval Mor-Yosef studied at a religious high school in Ashkelon and joined the Kiryat-Ono Hesder Yeshiva which is meant for high school graduates. His teachers testified that he had advanced as a Yeshiva student in a very special way. Yuval could have gotten rid of the army service in combat units because of his special family situation, but he was strengthened by his desire to serve in combat service and to serve the country in the maximum possible manner.
He was planning to return to Torah study in the Yeshiva after finishing the service. It is symbolic and chilling that Yuval volunteered to replace his friends in the mission he fell in. His noble figure as a Yeshiva student and warrior will inspire many more high school graduates to follow in his footsteps.
Hashem Yikom Damo.