This week’s haftorah displays Hashem’s unbelievable compassion for the Jewish people. The prophet Yeshaya begins by characterizing the Jewish people as the nation created to sing the praises of Hashem. Yeshaya continues and says in the name of Hashem, (43:22) “And you didn’t even include Me for you were too tired for My service.” The Yalkut Shimoni (as loc) explains this passage to refer to our inappropriate attitude towards the service of Hashem.
Chazal (our Sages) say that one exerts enormous energies throughout the day in pursuit of self advancement and yet he is unwilling to exert even minimal energy for the sake of Hashem. One returns home after a long tiresome day at work and neglects attending davening with the “valid” excuse that he’s too tired. Hashem says that I wasn’t even included in your plans. Energies were available for everything besides My service, the purpose for which you were created.
The prophet continues to reprimand the Jewish people, and says, “You did not bring Me your sheep for burnt offerings and you didn’t honor Me with your sacrifices. I didn’t overwork you with a meal offering and didn’t exhaust you with frankincense spice.” Chazal (ibid) elaborated on this passage and explained that all Hashem ever demanded from the Jewish people on a daily basis was the Tamid sacrifice consisting of two sheep. In fact, even the easiest of all offerings, the meal offering was not an obligation but rather a special opportunity to serve Hashem if one so desired. And yet the Jewish people refused to participate in these services. The Radak (ad loc) notes that in the days of King Achaz there were altars in every corner of Yerushalayim for the purpose of idolatry. But the Bais Hamikdash doors were intentionally closed and Hashem was totally excluded from the Jewish services. The Jews were just too tired to serve Hashem although energy was available for every other form of service.
The prophet suddenly shifts gears and begins to address the Jewish people with love and affection. He says, (42:1) “And listen now, My servant Yaakov whom I chose as Yisroel…for as I pour water on the thirsty and flowing waters on the dry land so will I pour My spirit on your children and My blessing on your offspring.” Radak (ad loc) explains that the prophet is now speaking to the Jewish people in Babylonia. They had already suffered severe pains of exile and rejection by Hashem and had now reconsidered their previous ways. They thirsted to drink from the long lost waters of prophecy which had ended many years before. Hashem told them that they would once again merit the word of Hashem. Although they had turned their back to Hashem and totally rejected His service Hashem did not forsake His people. The Jewish people would always remain His chosen nation and Hashem would patiently await their return. Our eternal relationship with Hashem can never be severed or even affected and when the proper moment will arrive Hashem will reestablish direct contact with His beloved people. Even words of prophecy coming directly from Hashem will become a daily experience. Hashem’s love for His people extends all bounds. Even after all we have done against Hashem He remains right there waiting for us.
Yeshaya concludes and says (44:22) “As the wind blows away the clouds so will I erase your rebellious acts and unintentional sins, return to me for I have redeemed you.” The Malbim (ad loc) shares with us a beautiful insight and explains that as far as Hashem is concerned our redemption already happened. From His perspective everything has been set in motion; all that remains is for us to repent and return. May we merit in this month, the month of redemption, the fulfillment of these beautiful visions.