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.
Saturday, May 8, 2010

Jewish Education: Ensuring that our Children will Live a Life of Torah

By Rav Moshe Sternbuch

Teaching through Example

“Speak to the Kohanim, the children of Aaron” (Vayikra 21:1)
Seemingly, the Torah is teaching us something obvious; we already know that Kohanim are the children of Aharon. What, then is the reason for this repetitive-sounding expression? Chazal explain that the pasuk means to tell us that a person should first teach himself how to act properly, for only after he has accomplished this can he effectively convey the message to his children.
Teaching through example is a fundamental principle in chinuch (education). Our children must see us acting according to the high moral and ethical standards that the Torah teaches. If they witness a living example of the beauty of the Torah’s ways, they will naturally follow in their path.
We see from the parshah of ben sorer u’moreh (the wayward son) just how far this principle extends. At an early age, the ben sorer u’moreh leads a life of complete debauchery, indulging in wine and meat. Rather than continue in his ways, the Torah commands us to kill him while he is still young, and not yet caught up in the web of transgression.
“His father and mother shall grab him and take him to Beis Din”. The Gemara in Sanhedrin tells us that we only apply the punishment of ben sorer u’moreh if both parents bring him to be judged. What is the deeper meaning behind this condition?
The Torah is teaching us the magnitude of teaching by example. If this child’s parents lived a life of marital harmony, exemplified by the fact that they were able to make a united decision as to what the best move is for the benefit of their son, then we can prosecute their children as a ben sorer u’moreh. Since their son saw a happy home and still chose to lead such a life, it is fitting to kill him at an early age.
However, if they do not appear in Beis Din together, this is a sign that there was strife in the house. Since the child did not see the example of what a Jewish home should look like, we can no longer fault the son for his deviant behavior. In this case, the Torah absolves the son from punishment.

The Joy of Jewish Life

Rav Moshe Feinstein commented that the downfall of Judaism in America in the early twentieth century was the expression, “It is difficult to be a Jew.” When children heard that they said to themselves, “If it is so difficult, what do I need it for?” They dropped their Torah lifestyles and chose alternate paths.
If a child experiences the joy of being Jewish, he will not feel the difficulty at all. A mountain climber attempting to scale Mount Everest does not think about how high it is. Even just anticipating the possibility of seeing the peak within his grasp inspires him to climb farther.
So too, a Jewish child who has been educated to always strive higher in his Torah observance will feel the exhilaration of being Jewish. Every mitzvah that he performs will instill in him a greater desire to do more. This feeling will provide him with the inner strength to overcome any obstacle that stands in his way.
Every Jewish home should strive to be a bastion of Torah and Chesed. Divre Torah and zemiros at the Shabbos table, together with guests, help create a live image of how a Jewish home should look. Establishing such living examples in the home is the biggest chesed parents can do for their children.


Even if parents act with exemplary behavior at home, this is not sufficient to insure that their children will remain righteous. While what they see in the home is crucial, we must make sure to give them a proper Jewish education that strengthens the ideas that they see. This provides them with a further example of how a Jew should live his life.
Recently, 70 parents from the city of Emanuel in Israel got together and started their own school of religious education for their daughters. The government felt threatened by these ambitious families, and arrested them for their behavior. They are currently standing trial for their actions.
This display of mesirus nefesh illustrates how far we must go to make sure that our children receive proper chinuch. We cannot be satisfied simply assuming that whatever “the system” offers is necessarily the best. A concerned parent must make every effort to ensure that his children receive the best Jewish education possible.

Sitting on the Fence

“You shall be holy to the Almighty, and you shall not profane His name” (Vayikra 21:6)
The Torah provides us with an ultimatum. A person can choose one or two paths – either a life of kedushah, holiness or a life of tumah and profanity. There is no option of sitting on the fence.
The Chazon Ish was once asked what he found problematic about the Mizrachi movement. After all, they were guiding people who did not feel that they were able to live a life of complete immersion in Torah and mitzvos; what was wrong with providing a channel for such people?
The Chazon Ish replied that each person must strive to reach the greatest possible that he is capable of. There is no such thing as a legitimate movement that professes that the correct path is to remain mediocre. Such an outlook threatens the entire fabric of the Jewish people.
The Gaon and Tzadik Rav Baruch Ber, the Rosh Yeshivah of Kaminetz once commented, My father wanted me to become Rav Akiva Eiger, and therefore I became Rav Baruch Ber. Had he been satisfied that I should be Baruch Ber, I would have gotten nowhere.”
Hashem wants us to be a holy nation. Keeping the Torah superficially is not sufficient. A person must follow the guidelines set down by the rabbanim of each generation. This will ensure that he will observe Torah properly.
Individuals who make a philosophy out of trying to live averagely will not be able to tolerate the guidelines that the Gedolim (great rabbis) lay down of how one should live a Torah life. Such individuals generally start by ignoring what they say, and eventually come to mock their words. Under the banner of fighting extremism these people end up waging war on the Gedolim.
All of the hidurim that Klal Yisrael have accepted upon themselves in halacha have preserved the Jewish people throughout the generations. Gedolei Yisrael have said that if our ancestors had kept just the basic halacha, we would not be keeping halacha properly today. May we be zoche to continue in that tradition, allowing our descendants the ability to keep Torah in the future.