I was looking at Isaiah 58:3 and had some trouble with translating this part of the verse:

הֵ֣ן בְּי֤וֹם צֹֽמְכֶם֙ תִּמְצְאוּ־חֵ֔פֶץ וְכָל־עַצְּבֵיכֶ֖ם תִּנְגֹּֽשׂוּ

"Behold, in the day of your fast you find [your own?] delight/pleasure and exact all your labors."

Now I was hoping someone in here could help me out and help me capture the meaning of this verse.

When the people ask their question, what exactly is the answer of the Almighty? Is it something like: 'when you fast (at the same time you fast), you go about doing whatever you like, you do as you please, while keeping your laborers hard at work (i.e. you oppress them)'.

1 Answer 1


The Navi is telling the people off, who although are fasting, are not truly repentant. In other words, they are expecting Hashem to listen to all their tefillos and the like, but they are not sincere, only worrying about their material needs and are just going through the motions.

Malbim on the pasuk notes:

צמכם תמצאו חפץ, ר"ל הצום והעינוי הנעשה בו צריך להיות באמת ובכל לבב וצריך שיגעול ביום ההוא כל עניניו הבשריים מבלי יחפוץ בהם כלל לא כן אתם, הלא אתם חפצים חפציכם גם ביום הצום לבכם חפץ ביום ההוא כל התאות שחפץ ביום אתמול, וכל עצביכם תנגושו העצב שיש לכם ביום ההוא במה שאתם פורשים מחפצי עולם ותענוגיו, תנגשו אותם בלחץ ונגישה ובהכרח, לא ברצון טוב ונפש חפצה, והצום הוא כמשא כבד עליכם מצפים עת עברו שתוכלו לשוב אל חפציכם

On your fast day you seek out desire - This means to say that the fast and the affliction should be done in truth and wholeheartedly, and he should be disgusted that day, with all his human affairs (lit. matters of the flesh) without truly desiring them at all. It is not for you, that you should desire your desires/belongings also on the fast day. Your heart longed that day for all the desires it longed for yesterday. And you extort all your debts - the debts that you have on that day, when you (are meant to) separate from worldly desires and enjoyment, (instead) you extort them with pressure, exactitude and with force, not with good will or a desiring soul, and the fast day is like a heavy burden for you, where you look forward to a time when you are able to return to your belongings.

  • Thanks Dov for your contribution, based upon your answer, how would you translate this verse?
    – Levi
    Sep 12, 2021 at 7:16
  • Exactly like I suggested - Behold on the day of your fast you find your delight/pleasure (when really you should be fasting wholeheartedly) and you extort your debts (because all you truly care about is your material wellbeing and are not fasting out of genuine desire but merely going through the motions/ acting on lip service)
    – Dov
    Sep 12, 2021 at 8:31

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