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Section:  Avodah   Category: Chanoch L'Naar
Parshas Shemos: Rav Chaim Kanievsky - Nice Ideals Don't Always Make Good Chinuch
Moshe was almost swallowed by a snake on the way back to Mitzrayim until Tziporah realized what was happening and gave a Bris Mila to their son Gershom.  The Michilta says that the reason why Moshe Rabbeinu didn't perform a Bris Mila on his son was because he agreed to a deal with Yisro that his first son will be for Avodah Zara.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky says that we cannot take this Mechilta at face value since Yisro already gave up Avodah Zara and was even excommunicated because of it.  Certainly we cannot fathom that Moshe Rabbeinu would agree to such a deal.

Rav Chaim explains that the deal was that the first child would not be taught any religion and when he grew up he would choose on his own.  Yisro came to the truth on his own and wanted his grandchildren to have the same freedom of choice.  He wanted him to find Hashem through an honest search for the truth so as to leave no doubt his mind.  To this end there would be no chinuch, and Moshe would not give him a Bris Mila. Moshe was confident that a child that grew up in his house would undoubtedly choose the right path and agreed.

Sounds nice in theory but real life doesn't always work out the way lab tests do.  Unfortunately, there can be collateral damage from even nice ideas.  While Gershom became a great tzaddik, another generation later one of Moshe's descendants became a Komer for Avodah Zara for Pesel Micha. 
RELATED ARTICLES:chinuch  free will  Parshas Shemos  Rav Chaim Kanievsky

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Visitor Comments: 4

DC, 2010-01-07 19:35:11
Very nice D'var Torah. However, the child that Tzipporah gave a Bris to was Eliezer. Not Gershom. Rashi clearly says that Moshe was almost killed because once he settled in the Malon, he should have given his son a Bris and he didn't. The child that Yisro wanted to make a deal with was the Bechor, which was Gershom.
RE, 2010-01-07 22:45:31
It is possible that Rashi has a source that differs with the Mechilta.

Revach Editor
Anonymous, Charlotte, 2010-01-08 01:45:01
I don't have a Chidushei HaRim al HaTorah but he discusses a this Chazal and gives almost the identical answer as Rav Chaim Kanievsky except that he explains that Yisro's condition was that he teach Gershom every Avoda Zara because Yisro felt that he only came to his great hakara of the Ribono Shel Olam after seeing that all gods were sheker. Although this worked for Yisro, the Chidushei Harim says that we do not mechaneich our children by first exposing them to every kfira with the assurance that eventually they will choose Torah. At the end he writes,"mitzvah l'farsem davar zeh."
As I say, this is from memory so I'm not sure if I quoted everything correctly.


RE, 2010-01-08 06:10:09
Targum Yonasan says that it was Gershom who Tziporah gave a Bris to.

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