According to Rashi's commentary based on Genesis Rabbah 74:4 was that Rachel died because of Jacob's curse. The Torah text says whomever "You find" as in whomever Laban finds the idols that person will die. But the idols were never found on Rachel by him and the Torah explicitly mentions how she even fooled her father into not finding them.

עִם אֲשֶׁר תִּמְצָא אֶת אֱלֹהֶיךָ לֹא יִחְיֶה


The Torah could have mentioned "whomever it is found" and it would have been self evident it was from the curse but the exact wording is תִּמְצָא = you will find. Of course Rachel did die by the curse as that is what chazal says so it must indeed be true. I'm just trying to probe further the logic behind why this is so. What is chazal's reasoning as to why based off the aforementioned?

  • You start off "According to my interpretation of Rashi's commentary was that Rachel died because of Jacob's curse.". Commentary where? Can you quote it?
    – msh210
    Nov 23, 2015 at 20:58
  • Related discussion in Makkos around daf 11.
    – gt6989b
    Nov 23, 2015 at 22:12

2 Answers 2


The meforshim use this as an example of how an inadvertant statement by a tzadik can cause later problems. That is, Yaakov had no idea that she had taken it and the condition used was not fulfilled. However, "the word of the tzadik is important". Thus, when Rachel was in danger (giving birth) this statement by Yaakov was included in the judgment and contributed to her death. See the Art Scroll commentary to Vayishlach 35:16 - 20 which expresses this concept explicitly.

The gemora gives other examples of a tzadik making an innocent statement which has a bad effect later on. I asked my Rav and he pointed to Kesuvos 23a (ArtSroll 23a4).

Some captured women came to the Nehardea to be ransomed. The father of Shmuel placed guards on them so that they would not be violated. Shmuel asked, who was guarding them until now (what is the point of guarding them since they were alone with the captors until now)? He answered and would you treat your daughters this lightly?

הואי כשגגה דיצא מלפני השליט

This was like a ruler accidentally giving an order and the daughters were captured and taken to Eretz Yisrael to be ransomed.

  • הקב״ה מדקדק עם צדיקים כחוט השערה
    – Lee
    Nov 23, 2015 at 20:38
  • @Lee That is where the tzadik is being judged. However, there is another statement that if a tzadik says something, it can cause bad consequences to someone else. That is a different statement. Nov 23, 2015 at 20:40
  • 1
    The Sapirstein Edition of RaSh"I on Devarim 33:7 cites Makkot 11B as the paradigmatic conditional banishment. Rabbi Mansour cited Yehudah as another example of HQB"H taking the words of the tzadiqim very seriously.
    – Lee
    Nov 23, 2015 at 20:58
  • 2
    I don't see how this answers the question. Okay, so Hashem would take the curse of Yaakov into account when dealing with Rachel. But that curse didn't apply to Rachel! Hashem might equally well take the curse into account when dealing with Lea! (That, I think, is the question above, and this answer doesn't seem to address it.)
    – msh210
    Nov 23, 2015 at 21:00
  • @msh210 Since Rachel was the one who took the teraphim, and she was the sister who "should not" have married Yaakov (since he was already married to Leah) and she was the one in danger (giving birth) the judgment applied to her. Nov 24, 2015 at 0:19

Or HaChaim on Genesis 30:2

ויחר אף יעקב
Jacob became agitated...


ודברי הצדיקים אפילו בסדר זה יעשו רושם
the words of the righteous even when okay [conditionally] make an impression.

footnote in the Artscroll Or HaChaim that references this quote with Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzvah 231

Even thought we do not have the power to know in which way a curse impacts upon the one cursed, and with what power within speech there is to bring [that impact] upon him, we know more generally that people are concerned about curses - whether Israel or other nations - and say that curses of people, and even curses of commoners, have an impact on the one cursed and attaches malediction and distress to him. And since we know this thing from the mouth of the creatures, we will say that it is from the roots of the commandment that God prevented us from injuring others with our mouths, [just] like he prevented us from injuring them with action.

Makkos 11a

Apropos curses that are realized, Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: With regard to the curse of a Sage, even if it is baseless, i.e., based on a mistaken premise, it nevertheless comes to fruition and affects the object of the curse. From where do we derive this? It is derived from this incident involving Ahithophel. When David dug the drainpipes in preparation for building the Temple, the waters of the depths rose and sought to inundate the world. David said: What is the halakha? Is it permitted to write the sacred name on an earthenware shard and throw it into the depths, so that the water will subside and stand in its place? There was no one who said anything to him. David said: Anyone who knows the answer to this matter and does not say it shall be strangled.

Then Ahithophel raised an a fortiori inference on his own and said: And if in order to make peace between a man and his wife in the case of a sota, when the husband suspects his wife of having committed adultery, the Torah says: My name that was written in sanctity shall be erased on the water, then, in order to establish peace for the whole world in its entirety, is it not all the more so permitted? Ahithophel said to David: It is permitted. David wrote the sacred name on an earthenware shard and cast it into the depths, and the water in the depths subsided and stood in its place.

And even so it is written that during the rebellion of Absalom: “And Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not taken, and he saddled his donkey and he arose and went to his house, to his town, and he commanded his household and strangled himself” (II Samuel 17:23). Although David stipulated that his curse would take effect only if one who knows the answer fails to share it with him, and Ahithophel did not fail to share it with him, the curse was realized.

The Gemara cites a similar statement: Rabbi Abbahu says: With regard to the curse of a Sage, even if it is stated conditionally, it comes to realization. From where do we derive this? It is derived from an incident involving Eli the High Priest, as Eli said to Samuel, after the latter had received a prophetic vision with regard to Eli, that his sons do not follow his path: “Therefore may God do to you, and more also, if you hide any matter from me of all the matters that He spoke unto you” (I Samuel 3:17). And even though it is written immediately thereafter: “And Samuel told him all the matters, and did not hide from him” (I Samuel 3:18), it is written at the time of Samuel’s death: “And his sons did not follow in his ways” (I Samuel 8:3), indicating that God did to Samuel as he prophesied with regard to Eli, and his own sons did not follow his path. Despite the fact that Eli stated the curse conditionally, Samuel was affected by the curse.

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