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.
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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, March 4, 2010

Living for Others: A Gadol’s Responsibility to Klal Yisrael

By Rav Moshe Sternbuch

Erased from the Torah

“Why isn’t Moshe Rabbeinu’s name mentioned in Parshas Tetzaveh? When Klal Yisrael sinned and Hashem threatened to wipe them out, Moshe said, “If You do so, then wipe me out from the Torah” (Shemos 32:33). The Zohar (Pinchas 286) explains that the curse of a chochom is fulfilled even If the conditions are not met. Therefore, Hashem removed Moshe Rabbeinu from Parshas Tetzaveh” (Baal Haturim, Shemos 27:2)
The words of the Zohar, as cited by the Baal Haturim are quite astounding Moshe Rabbeinu was moser nefesh to defend the Jewish people, and agreed to have his name wiped out from the Torah in order to ensure their perpetuation. Why was he punished for such a seemingly noble act?
What makes this even more difficult is that we find that the Zohar criticizes Noach for his lack of initiative in defending his generation. So much so that the Zohar calls the Mabul “mei Noach, the waters of Noach.” Instead of condemning Moshe Rabbeinu for his defense of the Jewish people, the Torah should praise him for his actions.
We can understand Moshe Rabbeinu’s absence from Parshas Tetzaveh on a completely different light. Gedolei Yisrael, the Torah leaders of each generation, are obligated to be moser efesh to give up everything for the sake of Klal Yisrael. They must go out on a limb for the Jewish people even if it means losing out in their lives.
While this principle is certainly true regarding sacrificing personal comfort, it even extends to spiritual endeavors. Each day in Krias Shema, we proclaim that we must serve Hashem with all of me’odechah, literally our possessions. The Chofetz Chaim explains that this refers to that which is the most (me’od) important to us, namely, willingness to make spiritual sacrifices for the sake of Klal Yisrael.
While every Jew must be ready to give up everything for the sake of the Jewish people, for Gedolei Yisrael, forgoing their personal growth for the sake of the nations as a whole is part of their essence. Willingness to sacrifice their own spiritual ascension shows that they are completely sincere and dedicated to their work; this is the litmus test whether they have truly given themselves over to Hashem’s will completely.
Chazal tell us that even when a person leaves this world, if his name is mentioned in the context of his learning, then sefasayim dovevos bakever, it is as if he is still alive and learning Torah in this world. Moshe Rabbeinu’s suggestion that he be removed from the Torah was the greatest act of spiritual self-sacrifice that a person could ever offer. Moshe was ready to give up this possibility for eternal reward throughout all the generations in order to ensure the perpetuation of the Jewish people.
In this light, the removal of Moshe Rabbeinu’s name from Parshas Tetzveh is an accolade and not a criticism. It is a reminder of his great self-sacrifice, and a lesson to all future Jewish leaders. Gedolei Yisrael must be willing to follow suit and relinquish some of their spiritual growth for the sake of Klal Yisrael.

A Father of the Jewish People

Moshe Rabbeinu taught us that a Jewish leader must give himself over to the people. A gadol is a father to Kal Yisrael and must fulfill his role accordingly. While he must be willing to sacrifice himself for everyone’ needs, he must put in extra effort for those who cannot take care of themselves.
Once, a local rov visited the great gaon, Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky zt”l. Rav Chaim asked him what he considered the role of a Jewish leder. The rov responded that such a person is obligated to worry about the kashrus, chinuch, mikvaos and eruvin of the town where he holds his position.
Dissatisfied with his answer, Rav Chaim pressed, “Is there anything else?” The rov thought for a minute, trying to think of any other halachic responsibilities that he might have omitted. He could not think of anything else, and replied that this seemed to be it.
Rav Chaim told him that he had forgotten on his most important jobs – to care for the orphans and widows in his town. AS the leader of his community, it was the rov’s obligation to ensure that individuals who had no one to worry about them were taken care of. Rav Chaim Ozer practiced what he taught and was known as the father of all orphans and widows in Klal Yisrael.

Personal Roles

While it is a great privilege to have the opportunity to give to the Jewish people, each person must know what his personal role is. One Jew’s job might be to be involved with kiruv rechokim, bringing back his brethren who have strayed from the truth of Torah. A different person’s role is to learn diligently and become a talmid chochom.
Taking the wrong role is a serious offense. The Gemara in Maseches Eruchin writes that a Levi who was meant to sing, yet instead locked doors, or vice versa, was obligated to be killed. Each person must take advice from rabbonim as to which role is best suited for him.
At first glance, the jobs that put a person in the limelight and present opportunities to affect the masses seem the most attractive. The Chazon Ish, however, that quality can override quantity. One true Talmud chochom can have a tremendous impact on the Jewish people just by his own private learning in his home or bais medrash.

Have a Heart

Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu that the workers he should find to construct the Mishkan must be chachimei lev – those who have “wisdom of heart.” Intelligence is generally associated with the mind, so it is surprising to find it here connected with the hart. What is the deeper meaning of this phrase?
While using one’s mind is one of the hallmarks of a Jews, it is not enough. We must infuse our actions with emotion and fervor as well. The combination of chochmah and lev produces truly outstanding results.
Whatever role a Jew assumes in Klal Yisrael, he should carry it out with much thought as well as passion. Putting one’s mind and heart into his actions show true commitment to what he is doing. All Jews should strive to be chochom lev, to reach the full synthesis of mind and emotion in all they do.