The Sins of the Father

On one Rabbi's visit to Torah study, we were discussing Exodus 34:7.

נצר חסד לאלפים, נשא עו ופשע וחטאה; ונקה, לא ינקה--פקד עו אבות על-בנים ועל-בני בנים, על-שלשים ועל-רבעים

"...visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and unto the fourth generation."

The discussion concerned the connotation that G-d punishes for some sins in perpetuity, but that he is eventually appeased. Various attendants were trying to rationalize this behavior against their concept of a loving G-d. In response, I cited a commentary that I had read from the Artscroll edition of the Chumash which led me to the conclusion that children were not punished for their parents' sins, but rather punished more severely for their repeating the same sin that their parent had committed. In short, G-d forgives but he does not necessarily forget.

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