In Parashat Vayigash (46:30), we read

וַיֹּ֧אמֶר יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל אֶל־יוֹסֵ֖ף אָמ֣וּתָה הַפָּ֑עַם אַחֲרֵי֙ רְאוֹתִ֣י אֶת־פָּנֶ֔יךָ כִּ֥י עוֹדְךָ֖ חָֽי׃ And Israel said unto Joseph: ‘Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, that thou art yet alive.’

His remark is strange, for it appears to contradict this dictum in Masechet Berachot (19a)

לעולם אל יפתח אדם פיו לשטן

Translation: “Never open the mouth to the Satan”

Why did Yaakov make such a remark?

  • Rabbeinu Ephraim asks this earlier on וקרהו אסון but his answer there doesn't work for here.
    – Alex
    Dec 21, 2020 at 5:25

1 Answer 1


Shadal seems to say that Yaakov wouldn't mind if he would have died (46:30)

הלואי ואמות עתה, כלומר אין רע אם אמות עתה, אחרי ראותי שאתה חי, ואם עתה אמות, אמות בשיבה טובה - I wish I would die now, meaning it wouldn't be bad to die now that I see you're alive. And if I die now then my death would be at a good, satisfying time

Though Rashi quotes a Midrash Tanchuma which provides a different understanding of "now I can die":

וּמִדְרָשׁוֹ סָבוּר הָיִיתִי לָמוּת שְׁתֵּי מִיתוֹת, בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְלָעוֹלָם הַבָּא, שֶׁנִּסְתַּלְּקָה מִמֶּנִּי שְׁכִינָה, וְהָיִיתִי אוֹמֵר שֶׁיִּתְבָּעֵנִי הַקָּבָּ"ה מִיתָתְךָ, עַכְשָׁו שֶׁעוֹדְךָ חַי, לֹא אָמוּת אֶלָּא פַעַם אַחַת - “I will die this once”: I had thought that I would die two deaths, in this world and also in the world to come, because the Divine Presence departed from me and I therefore thought that God would hold me responsible for your death. Now, since you are alive I will die only once, in this world

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