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.
Friday, May 28, 2010

Shavuos: A Day of Elevation

By Rav Moshe Sternbuch

A Day of Joy

Shavuos is a day of unparalleled joy. Even though on other Yomim Tovim one can exempt himself from partaking of the physical aspects of the Yom Tov, on Shavuos a person is obligated to dine on the choicest food. In fact, Chazal tell us that on Shavuos, Rav Yosef would prepare the finest cuts of meat and say, “If it were not for Shavuos, how many Yosef’s would there be in the marketplace?”
What makes Shavuos such a special day?
A person who becomes entrapped in the physicality of this world can be dragged down to the lowest depths, to the point where he acts worse than an animal. Torah aids a person to elevate the corporeal pleasures of life, and reach a level of closeness to Hashem, the greatest pleasure possible in this world.
For this very reason, the Yom Tov is called Shavous, the festival of weeks. Before we received the Torah, the Jewish people kept Shabbos, and this brought some element of holiness into the life of every Jew. After we received the Torah, through all of the mitzvos that a Jew performs daily, the kedushah of Shabbos was extended into the entire week, and all of the shavuous of a Jew became filled with sanctity.

A Day of Fear

Chazal tell us that Hashem held Har Sinai over the heads of the Jewish people and said, “If you accept the Torah, good, and if not this will be the place where you are buried,” Yet, at the same time, the Torah recounts that Kal Yisrael said, “Na’aseh venishmah,” and accepted the Torah willingly. How can we reconcile these two concepts?
Hashem desired that our Torah learning should be accompanied by this dual attitude of joy and fear. The yirah helps us recognize that we are not studying for a university degree, but striving to understand the will of Hashem. Knowing that our very existence hinged on whether we accept Torah helped instill within us from the outset this attitude of awe.
Every time we learn Torah, we should try and continue to experience some of the fear that we felt at the time the Torah was given. This attitude enables us to appreciate that Torah is the word of Hashem. In this manner, our Torah learning will protect us from transgression and constantly bring us closer to the Alm-ghty.

A Sleepless Night

Many kehillos in Klal Yisrael have adopted the custom of staying up all night on Shavuos to learn Torah. Some people might find this difficult and at times seemingly counterproductive. What is the reason that we push ourselves so hard on this Yom Tov night?
As mentioned previously, Torah requires that we incorporate within ourselves an attitude that Torah should be studied with both joy and fear. After we have achieved this, there is another important outlook that we need. Even when learning Torah is very difficult, we must nonetheless continue.
Many of us have busy schedules, and when the time comes to sit down and learn Torah, we might find ourselves exhausted, and find it difficult to fulfill our daily quota of Torah learning. On Shavuos night, we show ourselves that even during these times, we must try and push on and do our best. Remembering our mesirus nefesh on Shavuos night helps fill us with strength for the entire year.

Keep Going

By saying na’aseh venishmah, we promised to keep the entire Torah even before we heard what was written. This pledge was a display of our great love of Torah. Yet, there is even a deeper meaning behind this commitment.
After finishing a masechta or any other achievement in Torah, it is normal to feel that one has accomplished a lot. While it is good to feel positive about one’s success, there is also a danger to this attitude. This mood could easily turn into complacency, and one could decide that he needs to take a break for a while.
When we said na’aseh venishmah, we committed ourselves to counter this feeling. Klal Yisrael promised that even after we reach great heights through naaseh, we would continue to be nishmah and hear even more. Remembering this commitment can help us always be on the up, and to reach great heights in our Torah learning.

Time Out

We have mentioned a number of important attitudes that one should strive for in Torah learning, including joy, fear, mesirus nefesh, and continual striving to reach higher. Like any accomplishment in our service of Hashem, these goals will not come automatically. Only by taking some time to stop and think about our obligations to learn Torah can we hope to fulfill this mitzvah properly.
For this reason, the Torah refers to the Yom Tov as Atzeres, which literally means stop. Only by pausing prior to the Yom Tov can we hope that our Shavuos will elevate us to achieve these goals. Taking some time out to think that our Torah learning should be infused with these feelings will enable us to incorporate them into our daily Torah learning.
For this reason, prior to the festival of Atzeres, we were given the shloshes yemei hagbalah. These three days are a time to think about what it means to accept upon ourselves a commitment to limud haTorah. If we take time out during this time to think about his mitzvah before Shavuos, we will definitely see the fruits of our actions with great success in our Torah study during the rest of the year.