Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
Reader: I would like to know if the concept of ancestral merit or "zechus avot.” I checked about this online and found that this is a spiritual DNA inherited by the Jewish people from their patriarchs. The implication from this teaching is huge for me personally. Does this mean that it is pointless for me to abandon idolatry and to make the effort to be closer to Hashem? Is it better for me to remain in Christianity because what I do does not matter or that I will succumb to the wicked traits of my ancestors?
Rabbi: “Spiritual DNA inherited by the Jewish people from their patriarchs" is not found anywhere in Torah. In fact, Abraham, who God selected as Judaism's founder, had no ancestral merits; no "spiritual DNA." Although his father was an idolater, this mattered none in God's eyes in terms of his merit. Abraham made himself into a great person and God related to him due to his own merit.
But as rabbi Israel Chait taught, developing the leaders requires a special consideration. Not everyone—even if one works his best—is suitable for this task. Just as God creates men and woman with different potential, and we don’t feel sad that we are not Einsteins or Aristotles but we accept our capacity, we also accept God’s selection of certain people to be leaders. Maimonides teaches that God “made” Moses. Meaning, Moses was a unique creation, necessary for God’s plan to train the Jews in Torah. As Rabbi Chait said, we don’t feel bad that we are not created as angels, creatures perfected than humans.
“Zechus avos” means that provided a Jew follows the patriarchs and Torah, he merits God’s promises to the Jewish nation. And whomever joins the Jewish nation benefits equally. But a wicked Jew does not benefit from zechus avos.
Thus, it is highly beneficial for you to abandon idolatry and to make the effort to be closer to Hashem. Is it an eternal loss to remain in Christianity because like Abraham, you can select not to follow the wicked traits of your ancestors.