In Judaism, must נְבִיאִים Neviim feel happiness in order לְהִנָּבֵא to prophesy?

After we read 2 Kings 3:15,

Now then, get me a musician.” As the musician played, the hand of the LORD came upon him, ( וְעַתָּ֖ה קְחוּ־לִ֣י מְנַגֵּ֑ן וְהָיָה֙ כְּנַגֵּ֣ן הַֽמְנַגֵּ֔ן וַתְּהִ֥י עָלָ֖יו יַד־יְהוָֽה )

we are given commentaries telling us a נָבִיא Navi cannot prophesy when angry.

Regarding 2 Kings 3:15, Metzudat David claims :

Bring me a minstrel: To make me happy with his song, because of the anger Elisha had towards Yehoram, he did not receive prophecy, for prophecy is only received in happiness, and anger brings sadness

The concept of prophecy requiring happiness does not match the emotional sadness of Yirmiyahu in Jeremiah 13 - verse [17]:

For if you will not give heed, My inmost self must weep, Because of your arrogance; My eye must stream and flow With copious tears, Because the flock of the LORD Is taken captive. ( וְאִם֙ לֹ֣א תִשְׁמָע֔וּהָ בְּמִסְתָּרִ֥ים תִּבְכֶּֽה־נַפְשִׁ֖י מִפְּנֵ֣י גֵוָ֑ה וְדָמֹ֨עַ תִּדְמַ֜ע וְתֵרַ֤ד עֵינִי֙ דִּמְעָ֔ה כִּ֥י נִשְׁבָּ֖ה עֵ֥דֶר יְהוָֽה )

Was Yirmiyahu "happy" while saying בְּמִסְתָּרִ֥ים תִּבְכֶּֽה־נַפְשִׁ֖י "my inmost self must weep"? - If Yirmiyahu was not happy, then was he prophesying?

In Tehillim 30:12 we read הָפַ֣כְתָּ מִסְפְּדִי֘ לְמָח֪וֹל ֫לִ֥י פִּתַּ֣חְתָּ שַׂקִּ֑י וַתְּאַזְּרֵ֥נִי שִׂמְחָֽה which appears to mean שִׂמְחָֽה Joy comes - [after] Mourning.

  • How is it possible Yirmiyahu's "sadness" could come [from] שִׂמְחָֽה simchah, and not from כַּעַס kaas? - If Yirmiyahu's sadness came from כַּעַס kaas, then his words cannot be considered prophecy. (Correct?)
  • 1
    related with possible explanations judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/93073/…
    – rosends
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 14:21
  • +1 I have often wondered this myself.
    – Harel13
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 14:51
  • @Harel13 - The requirement of שִׂמְחָֽה as validation of נְבוּאָה is so interesting, especially when a נָבִיא claims their sadness during the supposed prophecy. Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 15:05
  • וַיִּ֤חַר לְמֹשֶׁה֙ מְאֹ֔ד וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ אֶל־יְהֹוָ֔ה אַל־תֵּ֖פֶן אֶל־מִנְחָתָ֑ם Moshe was angry and talking with God
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 0:28
  • וַיִּֽחַר־אַ֣ף בִּלְעָ֔ם וַיַּ֥ךְ אֶת־הָאָת֖וֹן בַּמַּקֵּֽל: וַיִּפְתַּ֥ח יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶת־פִּ֣י הָאָת֑וֹן וַתֹּ֤אמֶר לְבִלְעָם֙ Bilaam was angry when God spoke to him via the donkey
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 0:29

2 Answers 2


thanks for the great question. There are so many avenues with which to tackle it, but I think your main kasha is how can happiness coexist with sadness, or anger etc?

Chassidut1,2 has an answer to this, and it does so by rigorously defining Simcha. Next to the three chayot emotions (Chesed, Gevura and Tiferet), there are three dispositions. They are Simcha (happiness), Atzivut (sadness) and Merrirut (bitterness).

Simcha is defined not as simply positive mood (that's chesed). It's defined as the state in which one's heart is open and receptive, and they are able to feel emotion, including negative emotions like anger, and mourning.

Atzivut isn't defined as negative mood. It's defined as the state in which one is unable to feel emotion, positive or negative. It is more akin to depression really, and has nothing about it that serves holiness and one must strive to get out of it. Having a closed heart will prevent even ruach hakodesh (which is lower than prophecy)3

This fact that Atzivut is not holy, and is forbidden, is pretty much all the proof we need that it would prevent prophecy. Prophecy is something that one achieves through holiness and high levels of spiritual development.4

This line of thinking also explains how Yirmiyahu was crying during prophecy, and deals with what I've extracted as your main kasha: Due to his state of simcha, he was able to feel - strongly enough to cry - the negative emotions associated with the dark prophecy he was receiving. Had he been in a state of atzivut, he wouldn't have felt anything at all.

So yes, it seems that prophecy would require having and open and receptive heart. Atzivut is the antithesis to this, as we know that Yaacov lost his prophecy the entire time he thought Yosef was dead. Rashi on Bereshit 45:27:

ותחי רוח יעקב. שָׁרְתָה עָלָיו שְׁכִינָה, שֶׁפֵּרְשָׁה מִמֶּנּוּ:

THE SPIRIT OF JACOB [THEIR FATHER] REVIVED — The Shechinah that had departed from him, rested again upon him (cf. Onkelos).

Siftei Chachamim on this Rashi:

שרתה עליו שכינה שפירשה ממנו. רוצה לומר דרוח היינו נבואה כדכתיב (דה"א יב יט) ורוח לבשה את עמשי:

The Divine Presence, which had left him, rested on him. I.e., “spirit” refers to prophecy, as it is written (Divrei Hayamim I 12:18): “The spirit (רוח) clothed Amasai.”

1 - https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/audio_cdo/aid/470775/jewish/Saddness-Bitterness-and-Joy.htm and Tanya Chapter 26
2 - https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/361895/jewish/Joy.htm and https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/475953/jewish/On-Sadness-and-Joy.htm
3 - See, for example Derech Hashem 3:3:3
4 - See Derech Hashem 3:3-5, and Misheh Torah Hichot Yesodei HaTorah 7, Pitchei Chochma VeDaat 124, Siftei Chaim Middot for further reading.


Rabbi Reissman in a recent shiur was trying to answer an old question of his. Baruch Ben Naria (in the Mechilta end of hakdama to parshas Bo) requested prophecy at the time of the churban. Hashem denied it to him with the response 'what I built I am destroying, and you seek greatness?' (Yirmiyahu 45).
Rabbi Reissman wondered how it is then that Baruch's contemporary, Yechezkel, was able to prophecy.

To answer this he quoted a Pri Tzadik on Succos (he didn't give an exact source) who wasn't coming to answer this particular question, but whose words answer it nonetheless. Reb Tzadok says about Yechezkel's nevuah that all of klal Yisroel went into galus crying, but Yechezkel went with great happiness.

Rabbi Reissman explained this to mean that Yechezkel had the trait of positivity. Where everyone else was crying about the destruction, Yechezkel saw the opportunity for a fresh start once the nation would be cleansed from their sins of idolatry. That is the happiness Chazzal were referring to when discussing prophecy. Positivity, and the silver lining.

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