For I am God, your God, a jealous God, who visits the sins of fathers upon children, to the third and fourth generation……
What does this mean? Does it make sense that a child would be punished for something their parents did? Just to complicate matters further, the Torah says in Devarim that “no child will die on account of his parents – a person can only be killed for his own sin.” How can one reconcile this glaring contradiction?
The Gemara, Midrash, and later commentators all weigh in on this thorny topic. Rabbi Dunner explains the meaning behind these words, and how they apply to our lives. What is the relationship between difficulties in the lives of children and the actions of their parents, and what is God’s role in that dynamic?
As it turns out this statement holds a number of powerful messages that turns its appearance in the Ten Commandments into a crucial message for both parents and children.