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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.
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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, February 4, 2010

Rav Sternbuch on Parshas Beshalach

Surviving the Darkness: Practical Advice to Bring Light to the Galus
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 Hachareidus of Yerushalyim.

Darkness before Dawn

The Rambam writes that the original idol worshippers believed in Hashem. They felt that it was beyond G-d’s dignity to converse with Him directly.
Rather, one should worship the forces of nature, which are His servants. Hashem was still considered the ruling power of the universe.
Amaleik introduced a completely new philosophy to the world. They claimed that although there is a Divine power. He is completely above this world. G-d has absolutely nothing to do with human life, and His existence in no way affects us.
The great gaon, Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin, said that, in truth, Amaleik’s philosophy is completely irrational. Everything has a creator, so certainly the world, which is the most complex aspect of existence, must have a maker as well. Hashem made room for such unfounded philosophies to be possible by creating a special entity in this world called apikorsis (heresy), which largely by way of faulty logic and rationalization allows one to deny His role.
The Zohar reveals that as we get deeper and deeper into the golus, Amaleik’s ideology gets stronger and stronger. Their philosophy of removing G-d from our lives is becoming more and more accepted, and they seem to be plunging the world into every-thicker darkness. Why does Hashem let Amaleik’s power grow stronger daily?
On the day that the Almighty chooses to end the golus, the truth will be revealed. In order for the light of this revelation to make the strongest impact, He must temporarily plunge the world into a state of darkness. The thicker the darkness, the greater the light will be when the golus finally concludes.
The closer we get to that day, the more acute the danger of being misled by the darkness becomes. During these times, we must take special measures to ensure that we survive this interim period. What can we do to make sure that we will merit seeing the great light that is in store for us?

Taking Refuge in the Desert

For forty years, the Jewish people survived in a desert. During this time, they survived miraculously eating monn and drinking water from the be’er (well) of Miriam. Why was it so crucial that Klal Yisrael experience this?
In order to remove the influences of Amaleik and all of the other nations we’d encountered, Hashem isolated us from the rest of the world. For forty years, we existed as a separate nation with almost no contact form outside influences. In this way, Hashem purified the Jewish people.
Klal Yisrael had just witnessed ten makkos (plagues), seen the sea split, and were being provided for miraculously. Yet, with all of this direct Divine interaction, Hashem feared that seeing the outside world would push the Jewish people away from the truth of Torah. Only through complete isolation could Klal Yisrael maintain their state of elevation.
The Ramabam writes (Dei’os, Ch. 6), “A person is naturally drawn after his environment…Therefore, he should befriend the righteous, and live amongst chachomim (Torah scholars) in order to learn from their actions, and distance himself from evil people…If he cannot live amongst righteous people, he should flee to the desert.”
In today’s world, where the influence of Amaleik is so great, would the Rambam obligate everyone to uproot from their place of residence to move to the desert? Rav Chaim Brisker said that, practically speaking, a person does not have to move. However, when surrounded by heresy, he must rid himself of as many outside influences as possible in order to create a lifestyle as if he were living in a desert.
Sending our children to yeshivos and seminaries is a crucial first step to ensure that they get the right chinuch (education). However, this is not enough. We should try to do everything in our power to prevent our children from coming into contact with certain fri9neds and other influences who will pull them away from Torah.

Seeing Hashem

“I will surely sing to Hashem…He threw the horse and its rider into the sea” (Shemos 15:1)
The Shiras Hayam (Song at the Sea of Reeds) starts off by praising Hashem’s actions regarding the treatment of the Egyptian soldiers and their horses. Seemingly, the main miracle that took place was the splitting of the sea. Why are the horses and their riders such a crucial aspect of the shirah?
Seeing the Almighty’s hand through open miracles is a powerful revelation of His awesome glory. However, this experience does not leave a lasting impression on one’s life. Only by internalizing that Hashem directs every aspect of our lives can we live with His Presence and develop a constant, lasting relationship with Him.
Watching the sea open up in front of the entire Jewish people was certainly one of the greatest miracles in the history of the world. Yet, the awareness that the Almighty dealt individually with each and every soldier and horse in the Egyptian army – the powerful army of Mitzrayim, delivering precise measurements of retribution to each one, teaches us Hashgacha Protis, Hashem’s personal involvement with His people and their affairs. This makes a stronger impression, for such awareness allows us to recognize the Almighty in our daily living, when we do not usually see open miracles.
In general, one needs the merit of the tzibbur (community) to consider one’s actions significant. When it comes to recognizing Hashem’s Hashgocha Protis, Klal Yisrael sang the shirah in the singular to show that every person’s individual recognition is powerful.
For this reason, the women only sang the initial line of the shirah (see 15:21). While the men were able to notice and appreciate all of the miracles that were taking place around them and thus sing a longer shirah, the women were able to focus on the main aspect. They understood that the primary message of this miracle was the Hashgocha Protis, Hashem’s involvement in the minutest details of our lives.
As Amaleik’s influence waxes, Hashem’s presence in the world appears to be diminishing. In truth, this is not so, and what we see is merely an illusion so that the final revelation should be greater. By separating ourselves as much as possible from the influences of the outside world around us and concentrating on Hashem’s Hashgocha Pratis in our lives, we will merit to see the light of Moshiach soon.