Learning parshas Kedoshim, I arrived at Vayikra 20, 20 which discusses the punishment of childlessness for relations with one's aunt. Rashi comments that past and future children of his would die prior to his death.
(a) Please provide me with the different dayos regarding whether the man's previous children die early if they are minors at the time of their father's aveirah or whether they would be affected if they are adults. As the gemara explains in Yevamos 55a, we learn from the double lashon in the pesukim (re: ariri) that children that the sinner already had die early.
(b) If the punishment refers to adult children, would the righteous actions of the son/daughter act as a zechus to undo this punishment?
(c) Also, if the son/daughter had no way of stopping the father from committing the sin with his aunt, would that affect any change in their punishment?
Thank you for your time.
Yochanan Rovvy Elon
We find that minors are punished through the sins of their fathers. The ELYAH RABAH (O.C. 219) in the name of the SHALAH explains that this is why minors do not say Gomel. As their punishments are often contingent on the actions of their parents, they are not necessarily the "Chayavim" mentioned in the Berachah. This answers your first and third questions.
Though I am unclear whether or not this applies to adults, it would seem that we could prove it could from the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (18a), which talks about "Beis Eli" -- "the house of Eli" where there was a decree that the males should not live over the age of twenty. We also find by Beis Eli that the males were able to ward off this sentence by learning Torah and doing Chesed. This is not a definite proof, as one could suggest that the decree of Eli was a special case. However, it is most similar to Ariri than any other punishment in the Torah, and we find that it applied to adults and the merits of the children helped ward off the decree.
(a) Tosfos Shabbos 25a DH Karet writes that only minor children are punished for the sins of their father. Adult children are not punished. The proof for this is Gemara Shabbos 32b which states that for the sin of vows the minor children die, from which we learn that adult children are not punished for the sin of the parents.
(b) The Gemara Berachos 7a tells us that the verse (in Mishpatim; Shemot 34:7) "He visits the sins of the fathers on the sons" refers to children who are still following the bad ways of their parents. If they have improved their way of life, they will not receive a punishment. It may be learned from this that if the child tried to prevent the sin of his father he will not be punished.