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Posuk 8:11 of Amos says:

הִנֵּ֣ה יָמִ֣ים בָּאִ֗ים נְאֻם֙ אֲדֹנָ֣י יֱהֹוִ֔ה וְהִשְׁלַחְתִּ֥י רָעָ֖ב בָּאָ֑רֶץ לֹֽא־רָעָ֚ב לַלֶּ֙חֶם֙ וְלֹֽא־צָמָ֣א לַמַּ֔יִם כִּ֣י אִם־לִשְׁמֹ֔עַ אֵ֖ת דִּבְרֵ֥י יְהֹוָֽה

Behold days are coming says the Lord God, and I will send famine into the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water but [an unfulfilled desire] to hear the words of God.

Rashi there says:

כי אם לשמוע. שתפסוק מכם רוח הקדש

They will cease to have ruach hakodesh (divine inspiration).

Similarly the Metzudas Dovid says:

כי אם לשמוע וגו׳. ר״ל יהיו תאבים אל הנבואה ולא ימצאו כי תפסק הנבואה בהיותם בגולה:

It is saying that they will desire prophesy and not find it because prophecy will cease in exile.

The context of the entire chapter 8 of Amos is a kloloh (curse) foretelling tragedy. So why is there a zemer that is often sung at shalosh seodos and other occasions that seem to imply that these are words of nochoma (comfort)?

To be clear: Rashi and metzudas Dovid are both saying that the lack of prophecy directly causes the "famine" in wishing to hear the word of Hashem. This is in distinction to the possibility that there is an additional external force making people wish to hear the word of Hashem in addition to the end of prophecy. This later possible peshat is not anything I have seen in the rishonim. But if it does exist I would very much like to see it.

[The text of the zemer is הִנֵּה יָמִים בָּאִים ... וְהִשְׁלַחְתִּי רָעָב בָּאָרֶץ לֹא רָעָב לַלֶּחֶם וְלֹא צָמָא לַמַּיִם כִּי אִם לִשְׁמֹעַ אֵת דִּבְרֵי ה’.]

Links to the zemer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxQiswj_To0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJASoxnKziQ

  • Hi Moshe, welcome to the site! Have you tried asking people you've heard singing it where it comes from or why they sing it? – WAF May 22 '18 at 16:24
  • I added two links. I have heard it sung at shalosh seuodos, melavah malkoh and at other occasions. – Moshe May 22 '18 at 16:27
  • I’ve heard of this song, but I’ve never heard this sung at Shalosh Seudos for anything more than it’s a nice song. People sing Lamah LaNetzach throughout Shabbos also, in spite of the words coming from Eichah. – DonielF May 22 '18 at 18:05
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Although The words itself in the passuk refer to the tragic situation of the lack of nevuah and Ruach Hakodesh at in Galus, but the passuk also beholds a prophecy of nechamah by stating that there come a time when there will be a hunger/thirst/desire for these lofty things, rather than just famine for bread or a thirst for water. The fact that the lack of Nevuah and Ruach Hakodesh is considered a famine and a hunger by the people is a nechamah.

  • Do you have a mekor for that peshat? It's clearly not like Rashi or the Metzudas Dovid. Is there a medrash or a rishon that describes it as a nochomo? I ask because it would be very out of context to give a nechomo if you read the entire chapter 8 of amos. Further on: 12. And they shall wander from sea to sea and from the north to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it. 13.... 14. Those who swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, "As your god lives, O Dan," and "As the road to Beersheba exists," shall fall and no longer rise. – Moshe May 22 '18 at 20:40
  • @Moshe I did not say that that is the pshat of the passuk. The point of the passuk was not stated for nechama, but rather as a prophecy of tragedy. What I said was that " but the passuk also beholds a prophesy of nechamah" - we can derive a point of nechama from the words of the passuk. – RibbisRabbiAndMore May 22 '18 at 21:15
  • That is not the how Rashi and the Metzudos Dovid understand it. They understand that prophecy will cease and then memeila there will be a wish to hear the word of Hashem. There is no intrinsic action to make people want to hear the word of Hashem other than the lack of prophecy. What you are saying is that there will be up-swelling of desire to hear Hashem's word after the end of prophecy. The difference is like being hungry because of lack of food vs being made to feel artificially hungry in addition to the lack of food. – Moshe May 22 '18 at 22:38
  • @Moshe I repeat: I was not saying what the meaning of the passuk is. So please leave Rashi/Metsudos out of this. I didn't say that "there will be up-swelling of desire"... What i said was that the fact that when nevuah and ruach Hakodesh are lacking there is a hunger/desire for them is a nechama. Hunger for food when food is lacking and thirst for water is a natural phenomenon, but hunger for nevuah or ruach hakodesh is a sign of a certain level of spirituality without which no such hunger or thirst would exist even if those were lacking. This is somewhat of a ((silver lining) nechamah. – RibbisRabbiAndMore May 22 '18 at 22:47
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Medrash Lekach Tov on Megillas Rus has an interesting insight that mentions this verse (text courtesy of Sefaria.org):

ויהי רעב בארץ. עשר פעמים רעבון באו לעולם, אחד בימי אדם הראשון שנ' (בראשית ג' י"ז) ארורה האדמה בעבורך ואחד בימי למך שנ' (שם ה' כ"ט) מן האדמה אשר אררה יי', ואחד בימי אברהם שנ' (שם י"ב י') ויהי רעב בארץ וירד אברהם מצרימה, ואחד בימי יצחק שנ' (שם כ"ו א') ויהי רעב בארץ מלבד הרעב הראשון אשר היה בימי אברהם, ואחד בימי יעקב שנ' (שם מ"ה ו') כי זה שנתים הרעב בקרב הארץ, ואחד בימי שפוט השופטים, ואחד בימי אליהו ואחד בימי אלישע שנ' (מלכים ב' ו' כ"ה) ויהי רעב גדול בשמרון, ואחד בימי דוד שנ' (שמואל ב' כ"א א') ויהי רעב בימי דוד, ואחד מתגלגל ובא לעולם לעתיד לבא שנ' (עמוס ח' י"א) לא רעב ללחם ולא צמא למים כי אם לשמוע דברי יי' וכולן לא באו אלא בימי אנשים צדיקים וגבורים שהם יכולין לעמוד בהן.

To summarize: There are ten times that major famines occurred in the world; all of them correlate to a different righteous biblical figure, e.g.a famine during the times of Avraham, during the tenures of Eliyahu and Elisha, respecively, etc. The common theme of these "great hungers" is that they only come when there are tzadikkim and spiritual heavyweights who are able to endure these trying times.

The implication is that once again in the end of days there will be a great hunger - a spiritual one - and commensurate with that trial will be individuals who can endure it. While it is prima facie a sobering prophecy there is also a glimmer of hope underlying the words of the Navi.

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