Noticeably, the tribe/Nasi/Prince of Yissachar preceded the tribe of Reuven, who was Yaakov Avinu’s bechor, firstborn. Furthermore, Zevulun also preceded Reuven. The Ohr HaChaim Hakadosh explains that Yissachar preceded Reuven because he was the ben Torah, of the tribe that devoted itself to fulltime commitment to Torah study. Since Zevulun was his honorary partner, supporting him while he was engaged in commerce, he was placed near Yissachar in sequence. We see from the Ohr HaChaim that not only does Torah study take primacy over every other endeavor and achievement, one who supports Torah study, albeit himself not actively engaged in learning, receives due credit on an equal keel.
In its commentary to Mishlei (9, remez 944) concerning the pasuk, Chachmos nashim bansah beisah, the Yalkut Shemoni says, “The wise among women, each builds her own house” (Mishlei 14:1). When the Yalkut teaches, bansah beisah, “builds her own house,” this refers to the Torah, to teach you that whoever acquires Torah, acquires for himself a house in the World-to-Come. It does not say, one who studies Torah; rather, it says, one who acquires Torah. We derive from here that, just like in our temporal world, a person can build a house either by physically performing all of the necessary labor or by hiring a contractor to build a house for him. One can either personally study Torah, and thereby build his “house” in Olam Habba, or he can “commission” the building of his house by supporting a scholar and enabling him to learn Torah (Shem Olam15, quoted by Nifleosecha Asichah).
The wife of a distinguished talmid chacham, Torah scholar, presented Horav Shmuel Primo, zl, with a halachic query. (Indeed, this query was also presented to the Chida.) Apparently, her husband had entered into a contract with a “Zevulun,” a good friend who spent his days engaged in various forms of commerce. He did well, but, as a result, he missed out on the opportunity to engage in Torah study in the way he longed to. He offered to support his friend the scholar in return for a portion of his reward in Olam Habba. This was the classic Yissachar/Zevulun partnership. The ishah tzadeikes, righteous woman, was concerned that as a result of her husband’s partnership, she would forfeit (or at least lose part of) the portion of Olam Habba reserved for her due to her support of her husband.
Maharsha Primo replied that she has no reason to be anxious. She will receive her just reward, and her husband and his partner will split their reward. Veritably, a wife’s reward is different than the reward shared by the Zevulun who supports her husband. The wife was carrying the yoke of responsibility for their home, thus allowing her husband to study Torah unabated and untroubled. Thus, she deserves to have a complete reward, not a shared reward. The Torah supporter, however, purchased his portion; therefore, he divides the reward accordingly. Indeed, the women who relieve their husbands from their daily responsibilities are earning an incredible reward – one that eludes even Zevulun.
On the other hand, the Torah supporter does have his own unique form of the reward. The Chafetz Chaim would relate that when Horav Chaim Volozhiner was fund-raising for his yeshivah, he promised a certain philanthropist that he would learn Mishnayos in his memory. Rav Chaim would study Mishnayos in memory of this man. One time, Rav Chaim had difficulty understanding a Mishnah. (We must underscore that Rav Chaim’s lack of understanding was quite different than ours.) He dozed off and, in a dream, the neshamah of the philanthropist appeared and explained the Mishnah to him. When Rav Chaim woke up, he told his talmidim, students, what had occurred. He then added his own caveat. We see from here that not only do Torah supporters share equally in their partners’ learning, but they also merit to learn and understand the Torah (learned by their partner) in Olam Habba! This is why the neshamah of the philanthropist was able to explain the Mishnah to Rav Chaim.