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Kesuvos 103b says:

תניא מת מתוך השחוק סימן יפה לו מתוך הבכי סימן רע לו פניו למעלה סימן יפה לו פניו למטה סימן רע לו פניו [...]

It was taught in a Braisa: One who dies amidst laughter, it’s a good sign for him; amidst crying, it’s a bad sign for him. His face upwards, it’s a good sign for him; his face downwards, it’s a bad sign for him [...]

Yet, in Avodah Zarah 20b, we’re advised:

ממנה מסריח מסייע ליה לרבי חנינא בר כהנא דא"ר חנינא בר כהנא אמרי בי רב הרוצה שלא יסריח מתו יהפכנו על פניו:

”From [a drop from the Malach HaMaves’ sword that falls into one’s mouth, the deceased] decays.” This is a support for R’ Chanina bar Kahana, for R’ Chanina bar Kahana said, “They said in the academy of Rav, ‘One who wishes that his corpse not decay, he should turn on his face.’”

The Gemara in Kesuvos says it’s a bad sign if one dies face-down, yet the Gemara in Avodah Zarah says one should do so to prevent his corpse from decaying!

Certainly the academy of Rav cannot argue on a Braisa; while Rav himself was sometimes considered a Tanna, that doesn’t extend to his students. Are they facetiously suggesting this, but that really one shouldn’t flip over on his deathbed?

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    The second quote is not referring to turning over an already dead body? – Double AA Feb 24 at 0:38
  • @DoubleAA The wording of “He should turn over on his face” heavily implies turning oneself over - kinda hard to do once one is already dead. – DonielF Feb 24 at 0:53
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    Thats a translation, not the original wording. Maybe "he should flip it on its face" would be a better translation. – Double AA Feb 24 at 0:54
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    Reminiscent of מי שמתו מוטל לפניו. A corpse that's my responsibility/relative. – Double AA Feb 24 at 0:55
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    @DoubleAA They’re my translations, how I interpreted the Gemara when I learned it. There’s no Rashi on this line. I’m perfectly happy with an answer providing a different understanding of the Gemara. – DonielF Feb 24 at 1:04

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