…יִשָּׂשכָר חֲמֹר גָּרֶם
Yissachar is a bony donkey…
Yaakov was nearing death. He called his sons over and proceeded to bless them all, each according to his outstanding trait.
Yissachar was a talmid chacham. Rashi explains Yaakov’s words as follows: Yissachar is like a bony donkey, one who has been carrying a heavy load. He carries the load of Torah.
Rabbi Tzvi Markowitz further explains the comparison. Horses too, are beasts of burden. When a horse needs to rest, its master must remove its load. The horse then runs and rolls to its pleasure as necessary. A donkey doesn’t need that, all it needs is a quiet corner. It doesn’t need to be unloaded and it doesn’t need a large space. It will quietly sit under its load and rest like that.
The tribe of Yissachar was full of Talmidei Chachamim. One of the signs of a true Talmid Chacham is that even when he is relaxing, he doesn’t remove the burden of Torah from upon him. He doesn’t have a “vacation mode” in which he acts differently than normal. He relaxes as respectfully as he studies Torah and prays.
When a seeming Talmid Chacham is a whole different person when he isn’t in the Bet Midrash, he must realize that he lacking and still has what to work on. We all should work towards keeping Hashem and the Torah on our minds at all times.