So What-Vayechi-Shabbat Themes
“Issachar is a mighty donkey lying down among the saddlebags. When he sees how good is his resting, and how pleasant is his land, he will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labor (Genesis 49:14-15).”
Knowledge of the Torah and its use in practical application to concrete conditions of life is not obtained by incessant application to the physical demands of life, is not obtained by incessant application to the demands of one’s business or occupation, but is only won in the quiet hours of leisure which one has earned for himself by one’s work.
It is therefore only obtained by people who realize that, for this purpose, “He sees how good is resting,” who consider leisure as the real pure object for which one works, who value the knowledge and study of Torah as the essential goal, and their work as only the conditional means. (Rabbi Samson R. Hirsch)
Shabbat Menuchah, or, leisure, is for reflection and Torah study, thinking of ways to apply our learning to all the details of our lives.
Each time we mention Menuchah in our Shabbat prayers, we should ask for the gift of the leisure to learn and think, thank God for the Menuchah, and commit ourselves to use our Shabbat Menuchah as students of Yissachar, as described above.