Weary for God

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein  |  March 31, 2017

Elderly man flipping through a book while he's about to walk outside.

“Yet you have not called on me, Jacob,
    you have not wearied yourselves for me, Israel.” — Isaiah 43:22

The Torah portion for this week is Vayikra, which means “and He called,” from Leviticus 1:1–5:26, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 43:21–44:23.

I have a friend who used to say that there are two kinds of tired. There’s good tired and bad tired. Bad tired is when we feel overburdened and overworked. It’s the fatigue that comes with backbreaking labor or a restless night of sleep. We feel drained and maybe even depressed.

Good tired, on the other hand, is the feeling of sleepiness but also a great sense of joy. It’s the kind of tired we feel after putting time and effort into the things we love –our family and friends, a great achievement, or even our work, if it’s something that speaks to our soul.

In our fast-moving society, chances are that we are going to get overtired at least once in a while. The question is: what are we getting tired for? Are we experiencing good tired or bad tired? Are we putting our time and energy into prospects that enhance our soul? Or are we spending our energy and resources on pursuits that leave us empty and unfulfilled on the inside?

In this week’s Haftorah, God said to the children of Israel, “you have not wearied yourselves for me . . .” In other words, God was asking the people how come they weren’t expending their energy for Him? This week’s Torah portion spoke about the Tabernacle service and sacrifices made to God. But in the Haftorah, apparently the service of God had become too burdensome for the people. The Israelites had stopped bringing sacrifices and serving God. With no merits to atone for their many sins, the Israelites were sent into exile.

This reading reminds us how important it is to make time to serve God, even if it means getting a bit weary and tired. Think about it: Most of us are willing to be a little tired on Monday if it means going to a late night movie on Sunday. We are willing to suffer a bit of jet lag if it means a nice vacation in a far-away location. There are many taxing things that we might do in the name of “fun.” But what are we willing to do in the name of God?

Can we push ourselves to go out at night to a Bible study session? Can we get up early in order to pray? Maybe we can make time in our week to help someone in need or to keep a lonely person company. God knows we are busy, and yes, sometimes tired.

There is good tired, there is bad tired, and there is God-tired – being tired for the sake of God. That kind of tired is the best of all.