For you wearied (of) Me, O Israel
הרב אברהם ריבלין, המשגיח הרוחני לשעבר
Immediately after the uplifting pasuk at the beginning of the Haftarah, "This nation that I fashioned for Myself that they might declare My praise" (Yeshaya 43:21), Yeshaya moves on to strong criticism of the nation: "You did not call out to Me, O Yaakov, for you wearied (of) Me, O Israel." (43:22) The Radak writes about this shift: "Now he begins another portion, to rebuke Israel that were in that generation."
The beginning of the verse, "You did not call out to Me, O Yaakov" – is understood. However, the end is difficult: "ki yagata bi Yisrael - for you wearied (of) Me, O Israel." Who is the subject of this phrase? Israel, who are weary of their service of Hashem, or Hashem, who is weary of Israel's sins? [Perhaps both meanings are intended, based on the times and circumstances. Cf. Ha'amek Davar to Bereishit 25:23, regarding the pasuk "The older will serve the younger."] Note that the root YGA appears also in the next two verses, with these two meanings. In the pasuk, "I did not burden you with meal-offering" (43:23) – the subject is Hashem, who did not burden Israel with difficult work. In the pasuk, "You burdened Me with your sins" (43:24), the subject is Israel, who burden Hashem with their sins.
Who is "weary" in our pasuk? Most of the commentators choose the first way, that the subject of the verb "weary" is Israel, and they explain the end of the pasuk as a contrast to the beginning. Thus, Rashi writes: "'You did not call out to Me' – you did not call out to me when you turned to follow idols; 'for you grew weary of Me' – you were worn out quickly of My service." Mahari Kra: "All day long you fast and do all your work, and you are not weary; yet in the evening when I tell you, 'Come and pray' – you answer, 'I am tired.'" Also Radak: "You did not even call out to Me in times of trouble, and certainly you did not make yourself weary over Me, Israel."
However, there are some commentators who choose the second way, that Hashem is the subject of the verb, "weary." Mahari Kra: "According to the simple meaning, 'ki yagata bi' – you wearied Me with your sins, so that I tired of bearing them." Similarly, Radak in his second explanation: "It is not enough that you did not call out to Me, but rather you wearied Me with idolatry, which is a burden for Me." According to this explanation, the beginning of the pasuk is the reason for the end: Since you did not call out to Me, but rather to the idols, you have worn Me out with Your sins, and I tired of bearing them.
The Malbim suggests a third interpretation, which is built on the first approach, that Israel are the ones who are weary in their service of Hashem. What is novel in his interpretation is that we are not dealing with physical toil and weariness, but with a feeling that service of Hashem is a yoke and burden: "Not only did you not call out to Me, but rather you were also weary of Me – as if My service and mitzvot were a burden to you." In a more extreme form: There are people who, even when they fulfill in practice the mitzvot of Hashem and His service, do this as one who is forced to do so, and out of a feeling of stifling and coercion. Against them Yeshaya comes out with the expression, "for you have wearied of Me, Israel."
We find an echo of this demand in the Mishna: "Do not be like servants who serve their master in order to receive reward; rather, be like servants who serve their master not in order to receive reward. (Avot 1:3) The Tosfot Yom Tov explains that one who serves out of love is: "One who, in his eyes, is always short in his service, and thinks to himself that he did not serve [Hashem], due to his great love of Him." Similarly, we learn in the Mishna about prayer: "When you pray do not make your prayer keva (fixed), but rather mercy and pleadings before G-d."(Avot 2:13) The Bartenura explains: "keva – like a person who has a set requirement and says: When will I free myself from this debt?"
Based on this idea, an answer is given in the name of the Ba'al Akeida to a famous question in the Pesach Haggadah. The wicked son asks, "What is this service for you?" We answer him, "For you – and not for him; since he excluded himself from the people, he denied the fundamental tenets." At first glance, this argument also applies to the question of the wise son, since he also asks, "What are the testimonies and the decrees and the ordinances that Hashem, our G-d, commanded you?" Why don't we respond here, also, "you and not him?" In addition to the many answers that are given to this question, we can say that the wicked son asks about "the service;" he feels a heavy yoke to the point of collapse. In contrast, the wise son asks respectfully about the testimonies, decrees and ordinances.
The Dubna Magid explains our pasuk in this way: "You did not call out to Me, O Yaakov, for you wearied of Me, O Israel" – if you find the service of Hashem toil and wearisome and a yoke – this is not My service. True service of Hashem is meant to be out of joy and pleasure: "Since 'you wearied of Me, Israel' – it is a sign that you have not called out to Me."
In his typical way, the Magid flavors his words with a parable. A diamond dealer arrives at a city on Erev Shabbat. He hurries to his house and sends his errand boy to bring his luggage. The boy arrives breathing heavily, panting and sweating, and informs his master that he fulfilled his mission. "Oh," says the dealer, "if the luggage is so heavy – it is not mine. Mine is full of jewels, and it is light and a pleasure to carry."
"You did not call out to Me, O Yaakov – for you wearied of Me, O Israel." The ways of the true Torah are pleasant ways, and G-d's commands are straightforward, joyful to the heart.
קוד השיעור: 3722
(Translated by Rav Meir Orlian)