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


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, June 17, 2010

Preparing for Moshiach: Learning from the Mistakes of the Meraglima and Telafchad

By Rav Moshe Sternbuch

Living Miraculously

“Send for yourself men of stature to spy the land” (Bamidbar 13:2)
Ten makkos, monn and Krias Yam Suf were among the numerous miracles that Hshem performed for the Jewish people during Yetzias Mitzrayim. After seeing Hashem’s Hand perform so many wonders, there was seemingly no place to have any doubt about His ability to take them into Eretz Yisrael. Why was there a need to send spies in beforehand?
The meraglim knew that Hashem is all powerful and had no difficulty miraculously taking the Jewish people into Eretz Yisrael. However, they also realized that He generally acts according to nature. Spies were sent ahead beforehand to check if the land could be conquered naturally without turning to miracles.
When the meraglim realized that Eretz Yisrael could not be conquered naturally, they felt that it was improper to go ahead with the conquest. Relying on a change of nature would mean that the Jewish people would have to elevate themselves to be worthy of these miracles, and they did not want to feel that Klal Yisrael could rise tot he occasion. The Sanhedrin met to decide on this issue, and they agreed with the meraglim not to enter Eretz Yisrael.
Wherein lies the mistake of the meraglim and the Sanhedrin?
In truth, living in Eretz Yisrael, in the palace of the King, while witnessing all of the miracles that would be needed to conquer the land, would obligate Klal Yisrael to elevate themselves. The Mergaglim were correct in their concert that this would not be a simple task. However, since Hashem commanded us to go into Eretz Yisrael miraculously, there was no room to make calculations that contradicted this, and the meraglim should have put all their worries aside and listened without hesitation.

Living in Israel

Rav Sternbuch recounts that when he first traveled to Eretz Yisrael, he traveled via France, and he met up there with Rav Mordechai Pogramansky. Rav Mordechai asked Rav Sternbuch if he was prepared for his trip, and Rav Sternbuch replied that his suitcases were packed and he was ready to go.
Rav Mordechai responded that his question was not whether he was physically ready. He was referring to the fact that living in Eretz Yisrael requires great preparation beforehand, and one cannot simply hope to have success. For example, while lashon hara is always a serious transgression, in the palace of the King it is much worse.
It was for this reason that Hashem responded so strongly to the transgression of the meraglim and did not let them, nor the rest of the generation, enter Eretz Yisrael. To live in Eretz Yisrael requires constant recognition that Hashem is the only Ruling Power in the universe. “Hashem is one,” which we repeat every day in Shema Yisrael, must be engraved on the heart and mind of everyone living in Eretz Yisrael.
In contrast to this clear recognition of Divine power, Amaleik denies. Hashem’s all-encompassing rule of the world, and does not believe in miracles. Therefore, Hashem commanded us to fight and destroy Amaleik in every generation. We are obligated to completely annihilate their presence from the world.
Although the meraglim and their entire generation perished in the desert, the underlying philosophy behind their transgression and that of Amaleik lives on. Now, during the time fight before the coming of Moshiach, the power of this ideology continues to grow stronger and stronger. On the day of the final revelation of Hashem’s complete control of the world, this evil power will disappear, and it will be clear that there is only One controlling force in the world.


“are there trees or not?” (Bamidbar 13:20)
Rashi explains that the Torah is speaking metaphorically. Trees refer to people with great merit, not simply to plants in the ground. The people knew that the presence of such individuals in Eretz Yisrael would make capturing the land much more difficult.
What is the deeper meaning of this analogy? Trees are well rooted in the ground and even the strongest gusts can generally not move them. So too, a man of truth is firmly planted, and the gust of crooked ideologies that blow in the world do not change his way of thinking.
As we approach the time of Moshiach’s arrival, this attribute becomes increasingly more crucial. The winds of falsehood that exist today have reached hurricane proportions and only someone with very clear hashkofas haTorah (Torah philosophy) can stand strong in the midst of such gales. We must provide ourselves and our families with the proper Jewish chinuch to ensure that we can maintain our Jewish identities.
Another attribute of a tree is that it produces fruit. Similarly, a tzaddik is rewarded in this world and the next for the results of his action as well as the deed itself. The smallest act can produce countless fruit over the span of generations.
Every year, on a person’s yahrtzeit, the niftar (deceased) is judged for his actions that year. If he already passed on to the next world, what is the point of analyzing his deeds again and again, year after year? While he can no longer do more mitzvos, what he did in his lifetime continues to bear fruit, and it is on this that he is judged.
This is the meaning of what we say each day in tefillah, “Eternal life He planted within us.” A Jew who fills his life with Torah and mitzvos is well rooted in the next world even during his lifetime. We must try to do whatever is in our ability during our lives and in that way, we will reap great benefits in the World to Come.

Good Intentions

At the end of the parsha, Tzelafchad was mechalel shabbos. In doing so, he was the first person punished with death for transgressing. After seeing so many miracles, how could he act against the Torah?
The Medrash Tanchumah says that Tzelafchad acted lesheim Shomayim (for the sake of heaven). After the entire generation that transgressed was punished, they lost their drive to keep the Torah. They felt that if they wouldn’t have a portion in the World to Come, why should they do mitzvos?
In order to refute this way of think, he was mechallel Shabbos. When he received the death penalty for his actions, it was clear to all observers that they must continue to keep the Torah as before. However, with all of Tzelachad’s good intentions, he was mistaken in his thoughts.
In rare instances, we find the concept of an aveirah lishmah, a sin done with good intentions. These instances are few and far between, and can only be considered after consulting with gedolei Torah. Tzelfachad acted on his own accord, and although he meant well, his transgression was not an aveirah lishmah.
Some people transgress lesheim Shomayim with numerous good reasons to back up their actions. We must learn from the meraglim and Tzelafchad that even the most elevated intentions are not sufficient reason to sin. Especially during the time before Moshiach when the tests we face are extremely subtle, the need to follow the exact guidelines of the Torah is even more crucial than ever.