From This World to the Next: Jewish Approaches to Illness, Death and the Afterlife

Imrei Lev: Preghiere d'un Cuore Israelita

(Words of the Heart: Prayers from a Jewish Heart)
By Marco Tedeschi
Lithograph by A. Hoenig
Asti, Fratelli Paglieri, 1852
BM675.D3A3 1852f

According to rabbinic lore, as the patriarch Jacob approached the end of his life, he implored God to provide a transitional period between life and death that would afford him the time to take proper leave of his family. In response to Jacob's prayer, mortal illness was introduced into the world (Bereishit Rabbah 65:9). The interval preceding death is perceived by some rabbinical authorities as an opportunity to set one's affairs in order before departing this world and by others as both a means of and an occasion for repentance.