Rashi on Bereishis 25:30 states that Hashem shortened Avraham's life by 5 years (180->175) in order that he shouldn't see Eisav, his grandson acting wickedly ('Tarbut Ra-ah').

And on that day, Abraham died, lest he see Esau, his grandson, falling into bad ways, for that would not be the “good old age” that the Holy One, blessed be He, had promised him. Therefore, the Holy One, blessed be He, shortened his life by five years, for Isaac lived one hundred and eighty years, and this one (Abraham) [lived] one hundred and seventy-five years

However, Rashi states on Bereishis 25:27 states that from the age of 13 it was clear that Eisav went into bad ways

And the youths grew up, and Esau was: As long as they were small, they were not recognizable through their deeds, and no one scrutinized them to determine their characters. As soon as they became thirteen years **old, this one parted to the houses of study, and that one parted to idol worship. — [From Gen. Rabbah 63:10; Tanchuma, Ki Theze 4]

So how old were Yaakov and Eisav when Avraham passed away? 15 !!

(Avraham was 100 when Yitchak was born,Yitzchak was 60 when Yaakov and Eisav were born...100+60+15 =175)

So did Eisav behave wickedly at the age of 13 or 15?

  • 1
    100.4 + 60.4 + 13.4 = 174.2 which is into the 175th year. Are you assuming Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov had the same birthday (which was also Avraham's yartzeit) for some reason?
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 19:59
  • It's possible that Avraham just didn't see his wickedness right away -- it says so he wouldn't see it, not so he wouldn't be alive for it. Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 20:17
  • @DoubleAA that's a good point. Do we know those dates?
    – Danield
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 20:45
  • @Danield Based on judaism.stackexchange.com/q/22101/759 it seems they weren't all at the same time.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 21:16
  • 1
    Note that according to Midrash Chefetz (brought in Torah Shleimah) they were 15 years old at the time it says they grew up
    – b a
    Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 2:37

3 Answers 3


The Maskil LeDavid quotes the answer of the Mizrachi (brought by @GershonGold). However, he feels this answer is not so good since (In his version of Rashi 25:27) Rashi says that at age 13 Eisav went to houses of idol worship (unlike the version in our Chumashim, that says "Eisav went to worship idols"). If so, it would be hard to say it wasn't public.

He therefore answers that at age 13, Eisav started sinning, but sins that were between him and G-d. Those kinds of sins can be easily rectified with Teshuvah.

When he reached 15, he started sinning against man as well, and that is when he was became truly wicked. As the Midrash says, on that day Eisav did 3 sins, he raped an engaged girl, he stole, and he killed [all sins against man]. (The Maskil LeDavid points out a similar Midrash that says that the Generation of the Flood's decree wasn't sealed until they started stealing).

The Maskil Ledavid then brings an alternate possibility. There is a Midrash that says that that day Eisav (also) denied G-d. I'm assuming the Maskil LeDavid's intention is that that would be very painful for Avraham, so G-d took him before he could see that.


Both Daas Zekeinim Baalei Tosfiyos and Sifsei Chachomim ask this question and they both say that he sinned at 13 yet it was hidden, however at 15 he did it publicly.

  • +1 , thanks B'ezrat Hashem i'll take a look, but from Rashi 25:27 it seems pretty clear that it was public
    – Danield
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 20:11
  • 1
    how can you say both כל זמן ה שהיו קעניס לא היו נכרי' במעשיהם (which implies that after 13 his deeds were clear to all) and that which Siftei CHachamim says: וי״ל לאותן שתי שנים עשה בצנעה יאח״ב עשה בפרהסיא
    – Danield
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 20:23
  • Up to age 13 no difference noted, from age 13 differences were noted, yet Eisav did not sin publicly, on the day he turned 15 he sinned publicly. Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 21:50
  • What were the differences then if not sins?
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 23:38

This question is actually asked by the Yerushalmi (quoted by the Daas Zekeinim in @GershonGold's answer) which answers that at thirteen Esav began to sin but it was not yet public until age fifteen. However, the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Likuttey Sichos Chelek 1 pg. 49) questions this, because if so why was it necessary to cut Avraham's life short by five years - Hashem could have arranged that Esav's sinning remained hidden for longer.

He therefore cites the answer of the Riva"h and "Asarah Ma'maros" who explain that after the Akeida, while Yitzchok was waiting for Rivka to turn three so he could marry her, he was in Gan Eden. Gan Eden is higher than the time of this world, and therefore time was "paused" for him there. Therefore when he gave birth to Yaakov and Esav, although he was only considered 60 years old, in fact 62 years had passed since he was born and Avraham was then 162. 13 years later Esav begun to sin and Avraham then passed away at age 175.

  • How could Hashem have arranged for Esav's sinning to be in private? (Not how like is he able to but how like is he allowed to)
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 7:43
  • nice answer Michoel!
    – Danield
    Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 10:24
  • @DoubleAA While Esav might have had bechira whether he would sin or not, it is up to Hashem whether Abraham would hear about it.
    – Michoel
    Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 10:57

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