I've come across a bunch of great Rabbanim: Poskim, Mekubalim and Tzadikim who passed away within their 50s.

The Gemara in Moed Katan 28a says:

אמר רבה: [מיתה] מחמשים ועד ששים שנה זו היא מיתת כרת.
מת בחמשים שנה זו היא מיתת כרת חמשים ושתים שנה זו היא מיתתו של שמואל הרמתי ששים זו היא מיתה בידי שמים

If one dies when he is fifty years old, this is death through karet [the divine punishment of excision, meted out for the most serious transgressions]

Rashi says: "מחמשים שנה - ולמעלה" it includes all 50s.

Does it make sense to say that these "holy men" were Chayav Kares?

  • 1
    Perhaps it makes sense that people die for numerous reasons.
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Mar 11, 2019 at 3:32
  • What do you mean @Dr.Shmuel
    – Moshe
    Mar 11, 2019 at 3:34
  • 1
    all cats are mammals, not all mammals are cats.
    – Menachem
    Mar 11, 2019 at 5:12
  • note, even if taking it literally within 50 is specifically not 50
    – user15253
    Mar 11, 2019 at 13:15
  • 1
    @menachem the quote above is phrased correctly for the question. "If one dies when he's 50 years old, this is the death through Kares"
    – Double AA
    Mar 11, 2019 at 13:26

1 Answer 1


I'd dare to deal with this question epistemologically (?):

  1. Kores is a branch of Mitah BiYadey Shamayim - that is decided on exclusively by the Heavenly court (not the Earthy Beis Din).

  2. Let's imagine G-d comes down and testifies that all people who died in their 50s were Chayovim Kores. Would you be truly surprised? I wouldn't.

  3. If in G-d's terms "dying before 60" means "Kores" so be it, that's Kores de-jure - by its definition and not [what we would expect de-facto]! A completely different question would be - WHY?

  4. I'd suggest two possible scenarios:

    1. "פוקד עוון אבות על בנים" - some may suffer the consequences of their accedences' sins

    2. Some may suffer from a "differential punishment" - Tzadikkim are judged more severely than the laymen, so in G-d's eyes they might override the bar that G-d set for them.

    3. A very distant option - some might have actually committed serious sins in private we're not aware of.

  • 1
    I thought people who are punished for their ancestors' sins have to be evil doers themselves (i.e. continuing to follow in their ancestors' ways), as Rashi explains to Shemos 34:7
    – user9806
    Mar 11, 2019 at 16:20

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