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By Rabbi Aron Tendler | Series: | Level:


A. What is a “Yissachar – Zevulun” arrangement, and in what way does it differ from any financial support of Torah scholars and educational institutions?

B. Is it possible for someone to purchase, based on a “Yissachar – Zevulun” relationship, half of the reward of a Torah scholar for Torah that he has studied in the past, or does this arrangement only work for Torah that he will study in the future?


  1. A. A “Yissachar – Zevulun” relationship is an actual partnership between a person who studies Torah and someone who financially supports him in this endeavor. In other words, the “Zevulun”, who spends his day involved in business, gives “Yissachar”, who studies Torah, half of the profits that he receives from all business activities that he is involved in from the time that they made this agreement, even if this will amount to a large sum of money. In return, “Zevulun” receives half of the reward that “Yissachar” deserves for his Torah study. In heaven it is considered just as if “Zevulun” himself had studied this Torah. (1)

  2. Despite such an arrangement, “Zevulun” is not absolved from his own obligation to study Torah, which is incumbent upon every Jew, to the best of his ability and understanding.

  3. This arrangement must be made between the parties before the Torah study actually starts. It is preferable that a written contract be drawn up to this effect, and signed by both parties. The gist of the contract should be that the money given to “Yissachar” is for a full partnership in the Torah that he studies, as per the Halachic “Yissachar – Zevulun” partnership.

  4. A “Yissachar – Zevulun” partnership may only be entered into on future Torah that “Yissachar” will study. He may not sell the reward for Torah study that he has done in the past. Similarly, no one may sell the reward for any other Mitzvah that they have performed in the past.

    If a person attempts to sell the reward for Torah study or Mitzvos that he has already performed, not only does the buyer not acquire anything, the seller loses his own reward for the Mitzvos. (2)

  5. It is interesting to note that it has become a recent custom in certain places to perform “Yissachar – Zevulun” arrangements even if “Zevulun” does not give “Yissachar” full partnership in his business. It is sufficient if “Zevulun” supports “Yissachar” in a comfortable manner, in a way that all of his and his dependents needs are met, based on the standard of living in the community where he lives. This arrangement may also be made for a short period of time, e.g. for one year. The custom is to write into the contract how much money “Zevulun” will provide “Yissachar” on a monthly basis. (3)

  6. It is proper and an obligation upon anyone who studies Torah who has the ability to enter such a partnership with a “Zevulun” to do so, if this will enable him to continue studying with peace of mind. Although “Zevulun” will receive part of the reward for the Torah study, “Yissachar” should not be concerned at all about this. He should realize that Hashem has sufficient rewards for all who deserve it, and, just the opposite, if he refrains from entering into such an agreement and studies less Torah as a result, he is guilty of “Bittul Torah” (wasting time that could have been devoted to Torah study), and minimizing the knowledge of Hashem’s will in this world. (4)

  7. Even if a “Yissachar – Zevulun” arrangement has not been made, it is a great Mitzvah to support Torah study. A donor to an individual or institution that is devoted to Torah study receives a reward for this tremendous Mitzvah, that of SUPPORTING Torah, in proportion with the amount that is donated. However, he does not get an actual portion of the Mitzvah to STUDY Torah, and it is not considered as if he himself studied Torah, unless he has entered a “Yissachar – Zevulun” agreement with someone who studies Torah. (5)


(1) This is stated by the Rema in Yoreh De’ah (246:1), in the Shach there (2), and in the Biur HaGra there (7).

(2) This is based on the Gemara in Sotah 21a that tells of Shavnah the brother of Hillel HaNosi (the Prince) who wished to purchase the Torah that Hillel had already learnt. A voice came from heaven (Bas Kol) and quoted the verse in Shir HaShirim (8:7) “If a man will offer you all of the wealth of his house for your love (Torah study) you shall scorn him!”. This is stated as the Halacha in the Rema mentioned above.

(3) This is stated in the “Collected Writings of the Chazon Ish” (Kovetz Iggros).

(4) In the Sefer Kesser Rosh, which is printed in the Siddur HaGra, this is stated in the name of Rav Chaim of Volozhin. Additionally, Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, in his introduction to volume three of his work, Sefer Even HaAzel, says that he actually entered such an agreement so that he could continue studying Torah. See also the writings of HaGaon Rabbi Elazar Menachem Shach Shlit”a in “Michtavim U’Maamarim (Vol. 3, pages 75-78).

(5) This is stated by the Chofetz Chaim in Sefer Shemiras HaLoshon Vol. 1 Shaar HaTorah Chapters 5 and 6, and in many other places


This week’s class is based on a column by Rabbi Tzvi Shpitz, who is an Av Bet Din and Rosh Kollel in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem. His column originally appears in Hebrew in Toda’ah, a weekly publication in Jerusalem. It has been translated and reprinted here with his permission and approval. His columns have recently been compiled and published in a three volume work called Mishpetei HaTorah, which should be available from your local Sefarim store.

Feedback is appreciated! It can be sent to[email protected].

This week’s class is based on a column by Rabbi Tzvi Shpitz, who is an Av Bais Din and Rosh Kollel in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem. His Column originally appears in Hebrew in Toda’ah, a weekly publication in Jerusalem. It has been translated and reprinted here with his permission and approval.

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Please Note: The purpose of this column is to make people aware of Choshen Mishpat situations that can arise at any time, and the Halachic concepts that may be used to resolve them. Each individual situation must be resolved by an objective, competent Bais Din (or Rabbinic Arbitrator) in the presence of all parties involved!