"There was a famine in the land, and Avram descended to Egypt to sojourn there…" (Genesis 12:10)
The Midrash (Rus Rabbah 1:4) says there will be ten truly significant famines in world history. The first one took place in the time of Adam HaRishon - the first human being. The one described in our verse above is the third mentioned in this list. And what will be the final famine? It’s described by the Prophet Amos (8:11) in the following fashion: “Days are coming…when I will send hunger into the land – not a hunger for bread nor a thirst for water, but to hear the words of Hashem.”
A famous question is asked here: What’s so bad about this famine? In fact, if people are pining for the words of Hashem, that actually sounds like a very good thing! Wherein lies the problem?
There’s a famous Torah insight from the Ponovezher Rav, ZTL that addresses this question:
When a person is truly starving, he will eat or drink anything – even it is unhealthy or of exceptionally poor quality. Sadly, this is what’ll transpire at the End of Days. The entire world will become acutely aware of the emptiness that pervades its modern life, and that the only true satisfaction possible comes when a person’s soul connects to Hashem.
As a result of this awareness, people will begin to seek ‘spirituality.’ Sadly, many souls will attempt to satiate themselves on false religion (ex. Kabbalah Centers and Jews for Jesus) and ‘isms’ and movements that are predicated on falsehood. Of course, this is a terrible tragedy and rightfully earns this famine its place among the worst of all time.
I would add parenthetically that I’ve seen a similar idea touched upon in the writings of the Steipler Gaon, ZTL (Chayei Olam, Ch. 5). He writes that every Jew has a natural desire to connect to authentic spirituality. Unfortunately, if this drive is not directed towards achievement in Torah, then people will instead direct and channel this craving towards artificial liberal causes and the like.