Rashi in his commentary to Bereshis 25:30 says that Avraham died 5 years earlier than he would have otherwise, in order to not witness his grandson Esav engage in bad behavior:


מן האדום האדום – עדשים אדומות. שאותו היום מת אברהם, שלא יראה את עשו יוצא לתרבות רעה, ואין זו שיבה טובה שהבטיחו המקום, לפיכך קיצר חמש שנים משנותיו.

However, the Gemora in Brachos 18b-19a seems to conclude that dead people are aware of what is going on in the world:


"וְאִי סָלְקָא דַעְתָּךְ דְּלָא יָדְעִי, כִּי אָמַר לְהוּ מַאי הָוֵי? אֶלָּא מַאי — דְּיָדְעִי? לְמָה לֵיהּ לְמֵימַר לְהוּ?! לְאַחְזוֹקֵי לֵיהּ טֵיבוּתָא לְמֹשֶׁה."

So...if Avraham knows what is going on in the world after dying, what is the benefit of dying before Esav goes bad?

1 Answer 1


You’re asking a kasha on a Maaseh :-) Rashi doesn’t spell it out further so we need to conjecture.

The Gemara in Brachos seems to conclude that dead people are aware of what’s going on in the world. I’ll add that it goes further: dead people get the full picture which is ultimately good, so they have no questions but also are at peace. This is illustrated by the famous story involving the Rambam and a young Talmud of his who passed away, but not before promising to come back with answers to specific questions. The legend goes that this Talmud returned and explained how the total picture became crystal clear and he had no reason to question anything.

When Avraham passed away, it would seem that he would get the entire picture and not be in pain. While alive he wouldn’t see the entire picture: just that Esav would have gone bad, and that alone would have caused him untold grief.


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