I'm 99% sure that I've seen someone write what I found to be a very beautiful and very sad pshat relating to Yirmiyahu 23:9. It's not any of the mefarshim Sefaria has on that pasuk. I thought it was the Malbim, but the Malbim on that pasuk doesn't say anything like that. I searched on Bar Ilan and didn't find it in the Malbim anywhere in Tanach.

The gist was that a Navi only receives nevu'ah when he's happy. Yirmiyahu's prophecies were predominantly sad, so when he would feel one coming, he would get sad: "oh no, more bad news". Hashem would make him artificially happy, similar to the effect of alcohol (הייתי כאיש שכור וכגבר עברו יין), until the prophecy was over.

I'm not creative enough to invent a pshat like this on my own, so I must have seen or heard it somewhere, but I have no idea where. Can anyone help me find it?


2 Answers 2


No connection to drunkenness, but this Malbim seems to say that he made an effort to not become happy, to avoid "bad" prophecy.

מלבים ירמיה פרק ט"ו פסוק י"ז

לא ישבתי בסוד וחברת משחקים שאעלז ואשמח למען תחול עלי הנבואה על ידי השממה כי מפני ידך ונבואתך בדד ישבתי תמיד כי מלאת אותי בנבואה של זעם ופורעניות


I have only the first part of the answer for now. The Rambam writes (MT Yesodei HaTorah 7:4) that a prophet can only prophetize when happy

All the prophets do not prophesy every time they may desire, but they must prepare their minds, rest in a state of exultation and hearty contentment, and in undisturbed solitude; for, prophecy does not rest upon any prophet either when he is in a state of melancholy or in a state of indolence, but when he is in a state of delightfulness/happiness (simcha).

The Kesef Mishne comments this is based on the gemara in Shabat 30b that

The Divine Presence rests upon an individual neither from an atmosphere of sadness, nor from an atmosphere of laziness, nor from an atmosphere of laughter, nor from an atmosphere of frivolity, nor from an atmosphere of idle conversation, nor from an atmosphere of idle chatter, but rather from an atmosphere imbued with the joy of a mitzva.

It is also true that Yirmiyahu was one of the saddest prophets. "None of the prophets had a more difficult task than Yirmiyahu [...] who bemoaned his fate" (artscroll). See for instance chapter 20

Accursed be the day That I was born! Let not the day be blessed When my mother bore me! [...] Why did I ever issue from the womb, To see misery and woe, To spend all my days in shame!

So it makes sense that Hashem would have to make him happy in order to transmit him prophecies. So even if I don't yet have the "official source" for your saying, at least we now better understand it.

  • 2
    I understand all that. I'm looking for the drunkenness connection.
    – Heshy
    Jun 14, 2018 at 17:29

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