My last post was about how Rashi says that God is generally cautious about attaching His name to a person as long as they are alive.
The gemara in brachot says that Tzaddikim, even after their death are still called living, Ben Ish Chai. But here we have Yitzchak still alive and he is referred to as if he is dead. Unlike Avraham who was active until he died, Yitzchak’s career was cut very short.
It makes me wonder why Yaakov complained about his life to Pharaoh. Yaakov says that he did not live as long as his fathers. But it seems that even if he did not live the same number of years as yitzchak, he did have more quality of life than yitzchak had.
On the subject of only endorsing dead people, I discussed this Rashi with a friend who is an author. He told me a story that he had once written an approbation for another author. A few years later, he asked the author to return the favor but the author declined. He said that he only writes approbations for dead people. I said, then he should only solicit them from dead people.
There is something to be said for this. A number of years ago I remember that some big Rabbis at the Lakewood Yeshiva were taken to task for writing approbations for books that they never even read that contained all kinds of crazy things. Even if the book says not so crazy things, the author could be crazy.
The new Koren siddur has approbations from a Rabbi whose name will definitely not appear in the second edition.
Also on this subject, there was a very famous Rabbi at the end of the 20th century who die prematurely. It was a big tragedy to his many followers who lamented his untimely death. On the other hand, it is very likely that if this Rabbi had lived long enough certain allegations of misconduct would have emerged, ruining his legacy forever.
All this does not mean that those who die before their time or become prematurely incapacitated are somehow fortunate because they don’t have to worry about the evil inclination and the possibility of getting involved in a scandal.
It just reinforces that most important point in the Pirkei Avot that says “don’t trust yourself until the day of your death.” As long as you are alive you are always held accountable for your actions. There is no retirement age when you are somehow immune.