Trumah: Chapter 92

Until Jacob people died without sickness


Rabbi Yosi tells us that Rabbi Huna went up to the Holy Land and found the rabbis discussing this passage, "And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will take out of his mouth that which he has swallowed up; and the nations shall not flow together any more to him." Rabbi Huna tries to make himself heard, but no one will listen until Rabbi Yudai asks him to speak. Rabbi Huna then explains that Jacob asked God if a person could be sick for a few days before death so he could put his affairs in order and repent of his sins. Thus, God granted this wish to Jacob, and he was the first person to fall sick before dying.


Here, the reader proactively repents of his wrongdoings and brings order to his affairs without having to go through pain and illness just to comprehend the importance of penitence. Moreover, just as Jacob had the power to bring sickness to this world so that a man could avoid suffering in the World to Come, we now draw upon Jacob's righteousness and awesome power to achieve the reverse effect, the end of sickness, the cessation of suffering, the demise death. The gateway to the World to Come is now open.'