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, November 25, 2010

Finding One's Spouse

By Rav Moshe Sternbuch

A matter of Trust

Yitzchok was the sole heir to all that Avroham Avinu had accomplished in his lifetime. Certainly, who his wife would be would have a major affect on the history of the Jewish people. One would think that Avrohom would view this task with the greatest severity and undertake this job himself.
In this light, Avrohom’s choice of Eliezer to find a spouse for Yitzchok is a little startling. Eliezer was an eved Canaani, a nation known for their corruption and dishonesty. How could Avrohom give over such an important task to Eliezer?
Eliezer was different from any other Canaani and Avrohom trusted him blindly. The proof to his integrity is that Avrohom wrote out a deed on all of his belongings and gave it to Eliezer to show Rifkah’s family. Just as Avrohom trusted Eliezer with all of his possessions he relied on him to find the proper wife for Yitzchok.
Some of us are very quick to trust otherws when it comes to information about our children’s future marriage partner or other religious matters. Yet, when it comes to depositing large sums of money by the same individuals, we will be far less trusting. The following incident sheds light on the connection between these two circumstances.
When Rav Sternbuch was n eighteen-year-old bochur, he had to spend some time in France. Rav Sternbuch did not speak a word of French and had difficulty in the station catching his return train. As a result, he missed it and had to spend Shabbos in France.
Rav Sternbuch went to a hotel and booked meals for Shabbos. However, before Shabbos, he went to speak to the great gaon and rosh yeshiva, Rav Mordechai Pogramansky. Rav Pogramansky asked the young Rav Sternbuch how he could trust the kashrus of the hotel, to which Rav Sternbuch replied that they had a reliable hechsher and a good reputation.
Rav Pogramansky told Rav Sternbuch, “Kashrus means checking for bugs and making sure that every other detail of the Shulchan Aruch is taken care of. Would you trust them with $5,000 (then a small fortune)? If you would not deposit $5,000 with them, then you certainly should not trust their kashrus, which is much more valuable!”
When it comes to shidduchim, kashrus and any other Torah issue, we should be careful whom we trust. A person should not blindly accept whatever anyone says. We should be just as careful with spiritual matters as we would be with our financial portfolios.

Remaining Inspired

As soon as Avrohom finished speaking, Eliezer set off to find a wife for Yitzchok. Rashi says that the miracle of kefitzas haderech (shortening of the road) transpired, and shortly after he left, Eliezer was already in Aram Naharayim. Why was it necessary for Hashem to perform a special miracle?
The Belzer Rov explains that Eliezer was a devout chossid of Avrohom Avinu. As such, he was willing to be moser nefesh, literally give over his life, for whatever Avrohom asked him. Avrohom knew that Eliezer would give his all to find the right shidduch for Ytizchok.
One cannot compare the level of elation that a person has right after speaking to his rebbe to a short time afterwards after the excitement has worn off. While Eliezer was looking for the right match, Hashem wanted him to maintain the same level of elation that he had when speaking to Avrohom. Therefore, as soon as Eliezer finished speaking to his master, Hashem made kefitzas haderech and he immediately started looking for Yitzchok’s spouse.
Hashem’s actions help us understand the proper way to go about looking for a shidduch. We should involve people who are excited about our children and will put all of their energies into helping us. They will go the extra mile for our sons and daughters, and the Torah considers this proper histadlus.


When Eliezer went to look for a match for Yitzchok, he chose to make a test regarding the attribute of kindness. There are many qualities to consider when choosing a spouse. Why did Eliezer focus on this one?
Although chesed was certainly important, Eliezer was looking for another attribute as well. He wanted to see how gentle Rifkah was and whether she was an akshan, inflexible. He was hoping that this situation would bring out her true nature and he could see if she was flexible or not.
Rifkah passed her test with excellence. She offered to water all of Eliezer’s camels, a task which no akshan would even consider. In addition, she spoke in a pleasant and refined way, showing that she was a gentle person.
Rav Sternbuch once asked the Chazon Ish what one should look for in a spouse. The Chazon Ish replied that certainly fear of Heaven is critical. However, said the Chazon Ish, the most important thing to look for is that she should not be an akshan, i.e. that she is flexible.
Living with an akshan is extremely taxing, for this characteristic may cause a person to get angry over every minor issue. If one is flexible, then the couple can always come to terms and agree about how they should act. They will have true domestic tranquility and blessing will illuminate their household.

Listening to Elders

Chazal tell us that before Avrohom Avinu, there was no aging. A young person looked the same as someone much older. As a result, it was difficult to distinguish between youth and elders.
Avrohom Avinu asked that aging should be noticeable. This way it would be possible to honor individuals who had spent their life growing in their fear of Heaven and acquiring wisdom. Hashem responded and instituted the concept of aging.
When it comes to questions about shidduchim, or any other issue that may be important in our lives, the address to turn to is the gedolim of Klal Yisrael. Through their years of toiling in Torah and working on Yiras Shomayim, they have been granted the wisdom to guide us. We should recognize their greatness and make use of this valuable resource.
The secular world views older people as a burden to society. In fact, when Chaim Weitzman served as the prime minister of Israel, he encouraged youth to come and turned away the elderly. He saw the elderly as useless in his long-term goal of building the State of Israel.
When Rav Moshe Shneider, Rav Sternbuch’s rosh yeshiva, tried to get an entrance visa into Israel, the government told him that they did not need to let in old people who were merely going to die in the land. Rav Shneider replied to them that by abandoning the Torah, they were already dead in the land. He was the one who as alive and most fitting to live in Eretz Yisrael.

Good Days

Rashi tell us that when Sarah was 100, she was like 20 as far as her number of transgressions and when she was 20, she was like 7 In the purity of her beauty. Rashi concludes that all of Sarah’s days were “equally good.” What is the deeper meaning of this description?
Sarah did not have an easy life. Twice she was abducted by kings and she was a partner in many of the other trials of Avraham Avinu. Yet, during this time, she remained happy and was a faithful and dedicated wife to her husband.
Chazal tell us that no evil comes from Above. The Chofetz Chaim explains that, in truth, everything that Hashem does is good. Our level of perception is extremely limited and we do not understand what takes place.
Especially when it comes to shidduchim, a person can get extremely frustrated. Just when it looks like our child is about to go out or get engaged, some snag comes about and the shidduch is over. If we adopt Sarah’s positive world outlook and look for the good in every situation, all of our days will be “equal in goodness”.