Search

Loading...

Blog Archive

About Me

Rabbi Chaim Coffman
Rabbi Coffman has helped people from all across the spectrum to prepare themselves properly for Orthodox Conversion to Judaism. His students admire his vast knowledge and appreciate his warm, personal attention and endearing sense of humor.
View my complete profile

Followers

Welcome to Rabbi Chaim Coffman's Blog!

I would like to thank you for visiting my blog, Beyond Orthodox Conversion to Judaism.

The conversion process can be a lengthy and daunting one to say the least and I want you to know that I am here to help you through it.

I have been teaching newcomers to Judaism for over a decade and over the last few years I have seen that conversion candidates really lack the support and knowledge they need to navigate the conversion process and successfully integrate into the Orthodox Jewish community.

I created my mentorship program in order to help make this whole experience as smooth and as painless as possible! (Can't do much about the growing pains, though ;)

Feel free to get to know me a little through the posts on my blog and visit the mentorship and syllabus page if you are interested in possible joining us.

I sincerely wish you all the best in your search for truth and spiritual growth.

Looking forward to meeting you,
Chaim Coffman

My Rebbe, Rav Moshe Sternbuch

In case you were wondering why I have all of these articles written by Rav Moshe Sternbuch, he is my Rebbe, and one of the gedolei hador (greatest Rabbis of our generation).

Rav Sternbuch fully endorses me and supports my mentorship program.

He is the address for all of my halachic or hashkafic (practical and philosophical) questions that I or my students may have.

The articles are based on his weekly talks on the Torah portion that the Rav gives in Jerusalem in his kollel. As a member of the kollel I get first dibbs on the photocopies and I type them up for my blog so you can all benefit from the Rav's erudition and insight.
Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rav Sternbuch on Parshas Bo

Maintaining Elevation: Staying Up when Inspiration is Down
By Rav Moshe Sternbuch

The following was written by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis based on a drasha given on leil Shabbos by Rav Moshe Sternbuch, Rosh Av Beis Din of the Eidah Hachareidis of Yerushalyim.

Making Fun of Paroh

“…you should relate to your children and grandchildren that which I was ‘hisalalti’ in Mitzrayim, and the miracles that I did, for I am Hashem.” (Shemos 10:2)
Rashi explains that “hasalalti” refers to the mockery the Almighty made of Mitzrayim. On one day, Paroh declared, “Hashem is righteous, and myself and my nation are evil.” Yet a short time later, after the Almighty removed the each plague from Egypt, Paroh forgot everything that happened and returned back to his previous arrogant denial of G-d.
The Torah instructs us that the correct way to convey this irrational behavior to tell our children is to depict Paroh as foolish and fickle. However, this episode seems like a minor suspect of the major miracles of the ten makkos. Why does the Torah place such an emphasis on remembering this?
If we look closely at what happened to Paroh, we can understand that we also experience similar patterns in our lives. When we have a crisis, we pour out our hearts to Hashem in tefillah, begging him to rescue us from our straits. Yet, just as soon as we find our salvation we find ourselves slipping back to our old ways, and Hashem is once again the furthest thing from our minds.
Remembering Paroh’s foolish behavior can help keep us aware of our own hypocrisy. We will realize that even when things seem to be good, we are still utterly dependent on the Almighty’s constant protection and mercy. This will prevent us from making the same mistakes as Paroh.

The Secret To Staying Inspired

After Hashem has directly intervened in our lives by saving us from harm, rescuing us from a crisis or some other act of Hashgacha Pratis (Divine Providence), we will certainly feel uplifted and close to Him. However, if we let nature take its course, we will inevitably forget what happened almost immediately. How can we maintain the lofty awareness of Hashem’s greatness that we achieve during our moments of inspiration?
The Zohar reveals that we are obligated to regularly revisit and recall our memories of these sets of Divine kindness. Constant reflection on the awesome acts of love that the Almighty performs just for you will ensure that these acts become etched on your heart and make a permanent impression on your world view. This is the deeper meaning of the mitzvah of remembering Yetzias Mitzrayim daily.
In addition to remembering Hashem’s kindness, there are other measures that help us maintain a constant and unwavering connection to our Creator.
The strongest force that pulls us away from serving Hashem properly is our sins. If we want to maintain our elevation, we should know that every effort we make to avoid an aveirah (sin) is a huge step in the right direction.
In the sixth chapter of Hilchos Teshuvah, the Rambam writes that Paroh was not the only person to have his heart hardened by Hashem. Anyone who habitually transgresses sinks into impurity and creates blocks between himself and his Creator. These locked doors make it much harder for him to return to the Almighty.
Even with the doors of teshuvah slammed shut a person can still use a spiritual crowbar to pry them open. However, the deeper a person has immersed himself in sin, the harder it will be to get through the gates of repentance. Righteous individuals constantly worry if perhaps they have overstepped the bounds, and therefore are always doing teshuvah to maintain their closeness to Hashem.
In another section, the Zohar writes that a person who has sunk into transgression will have difficulty concentrating on his tefillos (prayers). His mind is bombarded with foreign thoughts, and this disturbs through teshuvah, and then he will be able to return to praying with the proper intention.

Signs of Blood

When the Bais Hamikdash stood, we brought the Korban Tomid daily. These sacrifices erased our transgressions and helped us to maintain an elevated state. Now that the Bais Hamikdash lies in ruins and we ware in golus, what can we do on a daily basis to protect ourselves from the strong undercurrent in our society which pulls us downwards so forcefully?
On the night of Yetzias Mitrayim, Hashem revealed the secret to us. Every Jewish family was obligated to perform a bris milah on all of the males, and to wipe the blood of the Korban Pesach on their doorposts. These two signs protected them from the fatal power of makkos bechoros (killing of the first-born).
The blood of milah and on the doorposts is a lesson for all generations regarding how we can remain elevated despite the downward pull of golus. Blood represents mesiras nefesh, completely giving ourselves over to the Almighty’s will, even when this is difficult. Such acts ensure that we will stay on the elevated level that a Jew is meant to strive for, even when the tides around us are pulling us in another direction.
It is particularly noteworthy that the Almighty instructed us to place the blood on the door. This is meant to be a reminder to us that if we want our homes to be a place where the Divine Presence will dwell, we must stand guard over what we let into the house. Radios, newspapers and the internet are especially threatening as they can subtly introduce foreign ideas wrapped in the guise of essential information and convenience and these can be completely antithetical to Torah ideology.
This is what the Torah means when it foretells that your children will ask, “What is the avodah to you?” In the thick of golus, the korban Pesach and the service of the Bais Hamikdash may seem antiquated and irrelevant to our children. We are instructed to answer them that just as the Jews acted with mesiras nefesh and were saved from the depths of Mitzrayim, so too, in every generation, a prodigious effort to swim against the tide which pulls us downward will allow us to maintain our elevated state.
For this reason, when Moshe Rabbeinu told the Jewish people that they would have Jewish descendents, Klal Yisrael expressed deep thanks to the Almighty. The Jewish people thought that when they would be exiled into foreign lands, their descendants would stray from the path of Torah. Moshe Rabbeinu told them that if they would internalize the message of the Korban Pesach and act with mesiras nefesh in golus, they would be protected from harmful influences.

Potential for Greatness

Rav Sternbuch relates what when he was thirteen, he entered yeshiva in England. During his first week there, the rosh yeshiva, Rav Shneider, gave a shiur to the entire yeshiva; during which he told the students that he expected them all to become gedolei Yisrael (great rabbis) like Rav Chaim Brisker.
One of the young bachurim (students) responded in shock to the rosh yeshiva’s words: “How can we be like Rav Chaim Brisker?! I don’t have a father like the Bais Halevi, and I am not gifted with the genius of Rav Chaim!”
The rosh yeshiva explained that he did not expect the boys to reach the same level of Torah learning as Rav Chaim. Certainly, Rav Chaim was given exceptional parents, intelligence and other advantages, which enabled him to reach the level that he did. This was not expected of everyone.
Rather, every bochur who channels all of his energies towards reaching his potential is considered a gadol. Since he has done everything in his power, Hashem considers him to have fully fulfilled his obligation to strive for Torah greatness. This was the rosh yeshivah’s expectation of each of his talmidim.
The world we live in today is filled with powerful distractions and temptations that tug at our hearts and minds from all directions. Maintaining our moments of inspiration, teshuvah and mesiras njefesh are the best defense against foreign influences and the most important step towards reaching our personal greatness. These are the keys to maintaining the high as we count the days until this bitter golus ends.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How do I Incorporate the Secular World into my "New" Life

A common problem that most baalei teshuvah and converts have is how to incorporate their new lifestyle back into their old lifestyle. Once someone decides to either become religious or want to convert, they are very excited about their new found practices and eager to put what they learn into practice.

What about their old friends? What about the workplace? Is it throw out the old and in with the new? Do they straddle both worlds ie keep the good parts of the secular world with their new belief system?

How does this work or does it?

An important factor in this discussion is how we would like our home to look. If Torah is the ideal that we try and live and incorporate in our lives, do we want to bring the street into our house?

Yes, we have to be in the secular world so we can earn a livelihood. It doesn't mean, though we have to integrate these negative values in our lives. Movies, newspapers....many things that could possibly be antithetical to Torah.

If these things are full of lies, speak loshan hara, nivul peh...why would we want these things in our homes and why would we want to expose our kids to them?

Do they have any redeeming qualities that they give us? if there are, then is it possible to straddle both worlds?

The answer is that we must use secular world to be able to earn a livelihood. Earning a livelihood is only a means to an end to be able to learn Torah. Once we are "done" providing for our families, then we have an obligation to learn Torah.

This means that really, we are doing everything in our power to live a Torah lifestyle. We, as Torah Jews, have an obligation to sanctify the profane.

In some ways, this is what the festive mean we make on Purim is all about. We celebrate Haman's downfall, through this feast while at the same time, we joke and are merry.

At the same time, though, if we drink too much and only words of folly and stupidity come out, then we are not allowed to drink that much on Purim. The gemara tells us that one way to test a person is to see how they react when they have drank alchohol.

If only words of Torah come out, then we see that the neshama has been infused with the proper "soul food" and that person makes a tremendous kiddush Hashem.

The Ramchal tells us that we have the ability to sanctify every moment, either we are going up or down. Every day is a new opportunity to sanctify the profane.

May we always be up to the challenge and succeed!

Community Issues and Fitting In

One of the most difficult things that converts go through is finding a community that is user-friendly. Although communities are leery about converts, once someone shows seriousness and commitment, one should do whatever possible to help these people.

It does not mean that this always happens and just because some people are rude and constantly want to hear "the converts" story, doesn't mean that all communities are bad.

People have to learn when to say things, how to be tactful. They also need to give the prospective convert their own space.

The convert also has to understand the mechanics of how the community works, ie what type of community is it. Is it more modern, Yeshivish...and whatever type of community it is, they have to do their best to uphold the standard that the community sets up.

If it is a very mixed community, then they have to figure out where they fit in within that context.

If they are not sure, they should ask people in the community.

One thing to always keep in mind is not to mix-up Jews and Judaism. Just because some may things that are not appropriate, does not give us the right to label them as convert haters....

We forget that people are human and make mistakes even rabbis
Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is it really true I can get through the conversion process without a mentor?

No! This doesn't mean that anyone is a dummy or doesn't have any brain capacity. Even if a person has all the "book" knowledge, they still need someone to guide them through the process and make the book knowledge come to reality!

This person must be qualified and should have greater people than him/herself to ask questions to when they are stuck or are not sure. The Mishna in Pirke Avos Chapter 6:Mishna 6 discusses the 48 ways one can acquire Torah. One of those ways is to "Know one's place."

Rabbeinu Yona states that knowing one's place means not sitting in someone's seat if that person is greater than you in Torah.The Chasam Sofer in his commentary states that a student should no do something without first speaking it out with his rebbe who will be able to guide him in the right path.

This means that if someone has a question about a certain action, thought, idea and is not sure, better to ask someone greater than you to get clarity. A student could be someone who has been learning for many years and has a question he can't answer.

Don't make the mistake, just because someone is a rabbi means that he has all the answers and never has to get another opinion.

Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita once told me better to say you don't know an answer to a question than possibly giving a wrong answer or someone bad advice.

Looking for the Already Converted or those in the process of conversion

I am looking for anyone who already converted to Judaism or in the process of converting to Judaism that would be interested in telling the pros and cons of the conversion process.

Rav Sternbuch on Parshas Vaera: Behind the Miracles:Internalizing the Message of the Makkos

Behind the Miracles: Internalizing the Message of the Makkos
By Rav Moshe Sternbuch

The following was written by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis based on a drasha given on leil Shabbos by Rav Moshe Sternbuch, Rosh Av Beis Din of the Eidah Chareidis of Yerushalyim.

Injections of Fear

The Torah describes the miracles that the Almighty performed for the Jewish people in Mitzrayim. First, Moshe Rabbeinu comes before Paroh and his staff transforms into a snake. After Paroh downplays this sign, the Almighty turns all of the water in Egypt into blood. After that, He brings a swarm of frogs into Mitzrayim. Eight more plagues followed, each one completely unique.
When we take a closer look at these miracles, we might wonder what the reason for them was. The Egyptians were masters of sorcery and their magicians could do tricks that appeared similar to some of the miracles that the Almighty performed. What was so special about the makkos (plagues)?
Miracles do not automatically change the way people think. While melachim (angels) are compelled to serve their Master, man has free choice. Every miraculous occurrence comes along with an alternative explanation in order to give us the choice to err in our assessment of the situation.
Mitzrayim was a place where many people knew enough magic to apparently manipulate the course of nature. The Almighty’s miracles alone did not shock the Jewish people and therefore did not provide an immediate boost for our faith. However, there was an element of the makkos that changed Klal Yisrael as a nation.
The Haggadah Shel Psach tells us that every miracle was accompanied by yad chazakah, a strong hand, zeroyah netuyah, an outstretched arm, and morah gadol, great fear. All of these phrases describe the same thing; manifestations of the Almighty’s awesome might. Every miracle in Egypt was accompanied by an “injection” of fear of G-d, which caused these wonders to have a huge impact even on people who were accustomed to seeing spectacular magic tricks.

Yiras Shomayim

The Torah writes that those Egyptians who feared the word of the Almighty brought their animals in during the plagues. At first glance, this pasuk surprises us. How is it possible that the Mitzrayim were G-d fearing?
There is a distinct difference between a person who is G-d fearing and someone who has yiras Shomayim. An individual who is G-d fearing only retains that attitude when the Divine Presence is revealed to him. The moment that the Almighty goes back to hiding Himself, the G-d fearing person will forget all about Him.
Yiras Shomayim is a more subtle concept. Someone who has yiras shamayim fears the Almighty at all times, even when he is not experiencing a revelation of the glory. This exalted level can only be attained by Klal Yisrael and not by the other nations of the world.
As we get closer and closer to the coming of Moshiach, the Almighty is revealing Himself with greater frequency through open miracles, catastrophic natural disasters, and other demonstrations of His infinite might. Those who fear G-d are temporarily moved by these displays of might, but quickly revert to their old habits with the passing of these incidents from the headlines. Those who have yiras Shomayim and are able to maintain their feelings of awe in the long term will escape the tribulations of chevlei Moshiach.
In the Birkas Hachodesh that is recited in shul before Rosh Chodesh, we mention yiras Shomayim twice. One time we add yiras cheit, fear of transgression, and once we say yiras Shomayim without any additions. What is the difference between these two descriptions?
These two descriptions refer to the two different types of Divine fear. Yiras Shomoayim by itself refers to an appropriate level of fear that is experienced as a result of the Divine Presence being revealed. However, yiras cheit is a constant sense of awe that can only come from Torah study and working to internalize the level that we reach when seeing and contemplating the Almighty’s miracles.

Immune Fear

There was one person who did not receive an injection of fear when observing the miracles. The Almighty hardened Paroh’s heart, allowing him to see things at face value. Consequently, these spectacular demonstrations of Divine power did not move him. For him, these miracles were no different than any of the other magic tricks that his sorcerers performed daily.
This is a typical reaction of a rosha when shown the truth. Instead of admitting the error of his ways, he stands firm in his foolishness. This can lead him to act illogically and against his own best interest.
During World War II, the great rasha, Hitler, ymach shemo vezichro (may his name be blotted out) showed us just such behavior. The Allies were advancing on the Germans, and the army asked him for more trains to carry supplies to the front rather than transporting Jews to their death in the camps. Seemingly, this was a very logical request for supplies were essential in their bid to regain the upper hand in the war.
Hitler responded with great fury: “Don’t you realize how important it is to rid the world of the Jews?” Even as he was witnessing his own destruction unfolding, his passion for evil blinded him to his own folly.

The End of Days

In Mitzrayim the Almighty performed miracles that clearly; showed that only He controls the world. Seeing these displays of Divine might instilled yiras Shamayim into the Jewish people. Yet this pales in comparison to the clarity and fear that we will experience in the days of Moshiach.
“I took you (Klal Yisrael) to be My nation, and I manifested Myself as Elokim to you, I am Hashem Elokim.” Sometimes the Almighty shows Himself to the world as Elokim, i.e. strict justice. In other instances, we see Him as Hashem, as He sends us overflowing mercy and kindness.
On the surface, this world presents itself to us as a mixture of Divine justice and mercy. Why are some people poor and others wealthy? Why are some gifted and others lacking in intelligence? Why do some have an easy life and others suffer? These are some of the many questions that we often ask when trying to comprehend G-d’s way in this world.
Yet, as the pasuk tells us, “Hashem Elokeichem is true.” In reality, there is absolutely no contradiction between the Divine attribute of mercy and that of strict justice. The two abide together in complete harmony, even though we are not expected to understand this. There is no “good” or “bad,” only truth.
Rav Chaim Brisker said that in the End of Days, the Almighty will answer these questions. Each person will find out how everything that happened in his life was precisely designed to serve his individual needs. At that moment, every individual will experience great trepidation when he sees how he squandered many of the opportunities that the Almighty graciously offered him.
As we read these parshiyos in the Torah, we can learn from the Almighty’s actions what is in store for us at the End of days. Now we can prepare ourselves, to ease the shock that will surely come. May those days come soon, and may we be prepared adequately to experience the joy that will accompany them.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rav Sternbuch on Parshas Shemos

The following was written by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis based on a drasha given on leil Shabbos by Rav Moshe Sternbuch, Rosh Av Beis Din of the Eidah Hachareidis of Yerushalyim

“Even thought the shevatim were counted during their lifetime by names, they are counted again after death. This is to show the Almighty’s fondness for the Jewish people, who are compared to stars which are called to appear by name as the pasuk says, “He takes out his hosts by number and He calls all of them by name.” (Rashi, Shemos 1:1)

What is the deeper meaning of the comparison between the Jewish people and the stars?

Perhaps it is that the stars appear as tiny, distant dots in the night sky, yet in truth they are vast entities many times larger than the world around us. So too, the neshama of every Jew may appear insignificant to the untrained eye, and yet it is a vast entity, as is the reward the neshama will receive for the mitzvos it guides a person to perform.

Just like each star has its own unique name, every Jew has his own unique purpose in this world that no one else can duplicate. Rav Elimelech of Lizhensk remarked, “When I get to Shomayim, they won’t ask me why I wasn’t the Baal Shem Tov. They will ask me, since I was Elimelech of Lizhensk, why wasn’t I Elimelech?”

The parallel between Klal Yisrael and the stars becomes more relevant as we draw closer to the end of this long and bitter golus (exile). During the daytime, the sun illuminates the world and no other light is visible. Starlight only appears at night when the entire world is dark.

As we travel deeper and deeper into the darkness of the golus, the light created by each mitzvah a Jew performs appears brighter and more powerful. A mitzvah that in previous generations would not have been especially significant today fills the world with radiance. We now have the opportunity to reach great spiritual heights in a way that in previous generations would have been impossible.

Shovavim

The first six parshiyos of the Book of Shemos are commonly refered to as Shovavim, an acronym for Shemos, Vo’eirah, Bo, Beshallach, Yisro and Mishpatim. These weeks, when we learn about the miracles of Yezias Mitrayim and the giving of the Torah, are a special time for teshuvah. What is the connection between the themes of these parshiyos and teshuvah?

When the Jewish people initially came to Mitzrayim, we were under the leadership of Yaakov Avinu. He made sure that re remained a separate nation and did not assimilate with the Egyptians. Yaakov’s guidance imbued us with the spiritual fortitude and protected us from the negative influences of our surrounding environment.

However, after Yaakov’s death, the Jewish people experienced a rapid fall, until we reached the 49th level of impurity. Had we continued to fall, we would have reached the point of no return. The Almighty took us out of Mitzrayim and propelled us on an upward ascent until we received the Torah on Har Sinai.

The route that we traveled when leaving Mitzrayim is a process that every Jew faces when doing teshuvah Even if he has fallen to the lowest level of impurity, he can still pick himself up and aim for the highest levels of holiness. True repentance lights up his neshama and illuminates the world with the Almighty’s radiance.

The Torah hints to this special process in the pasuk, “Mikrah kodesh zecher ‘yetzias mitzrayim.” Ikrah kodesh when we sanctify ourselves through teshuva, zecher l’yetzias Mitzrayim, is a hint to what happened in Mitzrayim,” where we lifted ourselves up from the depths of spiritual degradation.

Friend or Foe

TheTorah writes that a new king arose who did not know Yosef. Rashi explains that Paroh was really the same king, yet he revised his decree. What was the nature of this gezeirah? (decree)

Throughout our history, the Jews have been challenged by two types of challenges. At times, the nations are friendly to us and welcome us into their society – providing we drop our religious beliefs. During other periods, we were persecuted and tortured for being Jewish.

Paroh adopted both of these strategies. Initially he decreed that Klal Yisrael should be invited to mingle with the people of Mitzrayaim, but the Jewish people resisted this temptation and remained aloof. When Paroh saw that his plan had not borne fruit, he changed tacks and was gozer backbreaking labor.

This type of two-pronged strategy continues to be repeated to this day. When the State of Israel was first founded, the Satmar Rav and the Chazon Ish discussed how this would affect the future of Torah Judaism. The Satmar Rav feared that the Zionist drive towards a socialist state was so strong that they would institute one discriminatory decree after another, aiming to eradicate the Jewish character of the Land of Israel.

The Chazon Ish agreed with the Satmar Rov, that there was definitely a possibility but it was not his primary concern. He was much more worried that the Zionists would lure religious youth to join them through friendly means. These types of tactics are much more insidious and effective and potentially had the ability to eradicate religious Jewry.

Political Images

Even after Paroh started resorting to violence and cruelty, he still tried to offer logical political excuses for his reprehensible behavior. Paroh only decreed the murder of the male babies, who he claimed presented a potential military threat to his nation, but he graciously agreed to leave the female children unharmed. This ultimate plan was that the Egyptian would marry the remaining Jewish women, and this way he would effectively wipe out the Jewish people.

In contrast to Paroh’s attempt to whitewash his true intentions, the Torah tells us that Shifrah and Puah acted in an opposite manner. These two righteous women single-handedly saved the Jewish people from annihilation. They were rewarded with batim, houses – descendants who were Kohanim and Leviim.

One would think that such a valiant act would automatically receive a vast reward. Yet the Torah tells us that had they acted to receive honor and glory, they would not have received such a significant reward. Only because they acted out of fear of the Almighty were they compensated so immensely.

Emunah Peshutah

The Medrash writes that Moshe Rabbeinu made an agreement with his father-in-law, Yisro, that their first son would become a priest to avodah zarah. Amingly enough, Moshe agreed to this stipulation. Micha, the child of Moshe Rabbeinu’s firstborn son, Gershom later became an idol worshiper. How could Yisro have made such an offer and how could Moshe Rabbeinu have accepted it?

The purpose of this “deal” between these two great tzaddikim was certainly not that their offspring should actually worship idols. Yisro had come to the truth of Torah through a long intellectual search and felt that this had strengthened his beliefs. He wanted at least one of his grandchildren to also follow in this path.

Before the Almighty gave us the Torah which prohibited avodah zarah, Moshe Rabbeinu could agree to such a stipulation. However, belief based on philosophical proofs is not always strong and can easily be toppled by a clever argument.

In truth, the highest level of trust in the Almighty is emunah peshutah, simple faith. The Yaavetz, one of the Roshionim who lived during the times of the Spanish Inquisition, writes that many of the Jews who built their belief systems on philosophical proofs succumbed during those difficult times. Those who had emunah peshutah, simple faith, were able to stand up to the challenges they faced.

In today’s world, we do not face the terrible choice between giving up our beliefs or dying for them, boruch Hashem. Yet we must nonetheless strive to attain emunah peshutah and complete the clarity regarding the reality of the Almighty’s existence in our everyday lives. By making the smallest opening in our heart for teshuvah, we take a significant step towards this exalted level.

How did I get started

My field was really in kiruv rechokim, helping unaffiliated Jews reconnect to their ancient heritage. A friend of mine put me in contact with another rabbi who "happened" to also give classes over the phone to potential converts from Florida and Puerto Rico.

A few months later, I got a call on a Sunday morning to see if I could fill in a class to these special people. After getting ten minutes notice, I had to give a class for half an hour. As that 2 hour class ended, these eager students were starving for Torah and wanted more.

They wanted a class once a week, then twice a week. After a while, I became their link to Torah. It was then that I started my mentorship program for people interested in converting to Judaism and becoming Orthodox Jews.

Three and a half years later and six conversions under my belt, I continue to grow from the questions of my students and their unbelievable commitment to Judaism.