HG Schild asks:

Rashi Bava Kamma 104b

Zevachim 9b

Ein Kaparah l'Meisim

Only for korbanot? Is not a son able to atone for his father?


The Kollel replies:

There are a number of sources that a son can atone for his father. First, the Maharal in Nesiv Ha'Teshuvah quotes the Ramban who says that the concept of "Poked Avon Avos Al Banim" mentioned in the 13 Attributes of Mercy means that if a father sinned and his son performs Mitzvos, he can atone for the father. Moreover, this can continue even as far as the fourth generation as the verse mentions there. The Maharal says that these are actually part of the 13 Attributes of Mercy. He explains that there is also a responsibility on the father if the son, grandson, or greatgrandson continues his sinful ways, and this is what is mentioned in the Aseres ha'Dibros.

I also find a beautiful idea from the Chida who quotes the Noda b'Yehudah (Chomas Anach Zecharyah 3) that a person who leaves a son like him is not considered to have died since the Neshamah is always continuing to grow and grow because the father has a part in his son's learning and growing after his death, so his Neshamah is considered to be alive and "walking" as opposed to the Mal'achim whose level remains static.

A similar thing is said by Yakov Avinu that he "did not die" because his children continued in his ways (Ta'anis 5b). Similarly, by Aharon it does not say "Misah" because he left a son performing good deeds and thus Aharon is considered to be alive.

The Midrash Tanchuma (Parshas Noach, as quoted by the Or Zaru'a) tells of a person who had relations with a Na'arah Me'urasah on Yom Kippur and was put to death. Rebbi Akiva found him in Gehinom, and he told Rebbi Akiva that if his son says "Barchu" in front of the Sefer Torah, he will be saved. The Zohar adds that the son should say the Haftarah and Kadish, and this will tear up the Gzar Din (ruling) on his father, and when the son becomes a Torah scholar, the father will go to Gan Eden.

Yoel Domb