Haftaras Shabbos Rosh Chodesh

In this week’s special haftarah for Shabbos Rosh Chodesh, it is written (Yeshayah 66:4): “They did what was evil in My eyes, and what I did not desire, they chose.” The Maggid links this verse to a passage in last week’s parashah (Bereishis 6:2-5):
The sons of the rulers saw that the daughters of man were goodly, and they took for themselves wives from whomever they chose. … And Hashem saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth, and every product of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all day long.
He focuses on the phrase “only bad,” and explains this phrase as follows. There are two basic possible motivations in performing a mitzvah – either for the sake of the mitzvah itself or for the sake of some enjoyment or benefit resulting from the mitzvah act. Similarly, there are two basic possible motivations in committing a sin – either to fulfill a desire for some pleasure or to rebel against Hashem. One who sins only to cater to his desire will sin only when the forbidden act brings him some pleasure. But one who sins to rebel against Hashem may very well commit (or even opt for deliberately) a sin that brings him no pleasure.
Given this idea, we can understand the passage from Bereishis quoted above. Initially, the sons of the rulers took for themselves wives as they wished because they considered the women goodly and they sought to gain pleasure through being married to them. In the end, however, they wound up committing acts that brought them no pleasure, but were motivated solely by a wish to rebel against Hashem. All their thoughts were directed toward this evil goal; they had in mind “only bad,” with no interest in pleasure.
The same idea underlies the statement in the haftarah: “What I did not desire, they chose.” Out of a wish to rebel against Hashem, people chose to engage specifically in activities that Hashem did not desire, simply for the reason that He considered them undesirable.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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