What is the meaning of "Notzer Chesed la'Alafim"?
Rashi: He safe-keeps the Chesed that a person does - to reward his offspring up to 2000 generations. 1
Da'as Zekenim citing Rashbam (20:6): He guards a person's Chesed to reward his offspring up to 1000 generations, like it says "Shomer
What is the difference between Avon, Pesha and Chata'ah?
Rashi (from Yoma 36b): "Avon" refers to sins performed intentionally (for pleasure), "Pesha", to rebellious sins (where the perpetrator does not benefit from the sin), and "Chata'ah", 1 to sins performed inadvertently.
Da'as Zekenim, Hadar Zekenim, Riva: Avon is what his Yetzer ha'Ra forces him to sin. Pesha is rebellion in order to anger Hashem, Chata'ah is Shogeg.
See Yoma, 36b.
As in Yirmiyah, 11:15 (Seforno). In any event, since they are three levels of sin, the Torah counts them as three Attributes - even though they all go with Nosei (Ramban and Seforno).
What does "ve'Nakeh Lo Yenakeh mean?
Rashi #1: He does not pardon the sin completely, but enacts punishment slowly, bit by bit.
Rashi #2: He forgives those who do Teshuvah, but not those who don't. 1
Ramban: Hashem carries the various levels of sin and cleanses the sins through reincarnation. 2
Hadar Zekenim: He eradicates the sinner from the world, but not until the fourth generation.
Lev Eliyahu (p.71): If one does not repent in his lifetime, his Neshamah remains in Tum'ah until it is cleansed in Gehinom. If he transgressed something for which one has no share in the world to come, there is no Taharah from this.
Hadar Zekenim: If they don't repent, the sin is visited on their descendants for three or four generations.
See Rav Chavel's footnotes.
Whose sins are transformed into Mitzvos (Seforno).
Whose sins be'Meizid are merely transformed into Shogeg, but not forgiven completely, as the Gemara states in Yoma, 86a (Seforno).
Why does Hashem "visit the sins of the fathers on the sons"?
Rashi, Targum Onkelos and Targum Yonasan: He does that only when the sons continue to go in the way of their fathers.
Seforno: This really pertains to people who have sinned to such an extent that there is no hope that they will do Teshuvah, 1 at which point Hashem will punish them.
Da'as Zekenim: This is a Midah of mercy - He does not rush to punish. Rather, He waits for Yom Pakdi. 2
Which generally occurs when the sins are continually transgressed for a number of generations (Seforno).
Da'as Zekenim: This is difficult for the opinion that Moshe rushed to bow, lest Hashem add a fifth generation. This is mercy,not to punish a man according to his actions! (Perhaps a sinner should be punished for planting seeds for his descendants to sin. It is mercy not to punish him for this, rather, to punish the descendants who sin like him!)
Why did Hashem specify the third and the fourth generations?
Seforno: He waits for the sins of the third generation to surpass those of their grandfathers 1 before punishing them, but punishes the fourth generation, even if they just continue sinning like their great-grandfathers.
Refer to 20:5:5:3.
What is the significance of the difference between the extended times of Hashem's reward and punishment?
Rashi: From the fact that Hashem rewards up to 2000 generations 1 and punishes up to only four generations, we see that His measure of goodness is 500 times more than His measure of punishment.
The question is asked that, seeing as the world will only last until the year 6000, there will never be 2000 generations? I once heard an answer to this question based on the Midrash that, when Mashi'ach comes, women will give birth every day. (EC)
Here and above (20:6), it says that Hashem reward up to 2000 generations. In Devarim (7:9), it says up to 1000 generations!
Refer to 20:6:3:1,2.
What is "Nosei Avon"?
Riva: When Hashem weighs merits against sins, He lifts the pan of sins, so the pan of merits outweighs it.
Here it says that Hashem visits sins of the fathers on the sons. Devarim 24:16 says "sons do not die due to fathers; one dies for his own sin"!
Riva: The end of the verse in Devarim discusses when the son does not persist in the father's sin. The beginning of the verse teaches that relatives may not testify together (Sanhedrin 27b).