Parshas Vayechi: Reb Yeruchom - Yisachar, Unflappable and At Peace
In bracha given to Yisachar it says "Vayar Minucha Ki Tov... Vayeit Shichmo Lisbol", he saw that serenity is good... and he bowed his shoulder to bear. This pasuk seems like in inherent contradiction. If Yisachar sought rest why would he brace himself for hard work?
Reb Yeruchom answers that if we want to raise a child to be content and happy, showering him with material goods and catering to his every need is counterproductive. It creates a dangerous dependence. In order to remain content the child must constantly get what he is accustomed to. The moment he lacks anything he is pain and turmoil. It is like pouring oil on a fire. While the oil is poured the fires are tamed, but after the initial calming of the fires, the oil fuels the fire.
The way to become a content person is by getting accustomed to not having much of anything. This lack of neediness makes life peaceful. Army training, says Rav Yeruchom, is purposely rough, in order to accustom the soldiers to fighting under the most difficult circumstances without any concern for their surroundings and hardships. They need to focus on fighting and ignore everything else.
Yisachar is the Shevet of the Sanhedrin. They need to learn Torah without distractions. Yisachar saw that only serenity can allow them to truly thrive and grow in Torah. In order to do this they bend their shoulder and tolerate any annoyance. They avoid all material pleasures and are oblivious to all pain and discomfort. They sit and toil in Torah in serenity and happiness for nothing phases them and Torah is the love of their life.
Ein Ben Chorin Elah Mi SheOseik BaTorah, only a true Ben Torah is free from all the internal and external distractions that mar our lives. The ability to tolerate and focus on what is important to us is the key to happiness. We can't change the world, but we can change the way the world affects us.