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, January 22, 2011

A Drosha by the Raavad HaRav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita on Parshas Beshalach

“And Moshe took the bones of Yosef with him”.

”With him” suggests that the bones were to be specifically kept close to Moshe Rabbeinu. This seems puzzling. The Torah is intimating the following message. Yosef Hatzadik served Paroh faithfully, making sure there was enough food throughout the years of famine and even subjugating the property and the very bodies of the Egyptians to the King. Yosef’s descendants were entitled to assume that they would always be treated well, since the King or any of its successors would not dare to forget what Yosef had done for the nation. However, they were quickly disillusioned and as soon as Yosef died, the process of persecution set in. Thus, Yosef’s bones were to serve as a reminder not to put our trust in anyone except Hashem.
Similarly, with all the Egyptians’ silver and gold, which the Benei Yisrael took with them, they would be tempted to believe that they no longer needed to worry about their material needs, and yet, they ended on having to stay in the wilderness for 40 years, where all their material possessions were of little use, and they became totally dependent on the mon for their most basic material needs. In order to remind them not to rely on anybody or anything except Hashem.

“Stand still and see the salvation of Hashem”

The story is told that the Vilna Gaon’s brother was very sick and when the Vilna Gaon went to visit him, his brother told him that he was not seeing any doctors at all, since he had to have complete faith in Hashem. The Vilna Gaon responded that if he displayed the same degree of trust in Hashem in matters such as his livelihood, then this attitude was appropriate, but if not, then it was merely laziness disguised as piety.
By contrast, the Peias Hashulchan relates a story about the Vilna Gaon himself. There was a fund to support people learning Torah, and one of the beneficiaries was the Vilna Gaon. However, his shamash suffered from dire poverty himself and embezzled the money designed for the Vilna Gaon, figuring that Hashem would take care of the Vilna Gaon. The Vilna Gaon got wind of hat was happening, but decided not to say a word, since embarrassing a fellow Jew is tantamount to murder. He and his family subsisted for a while from the remnants of garbage. Eventually the shamash became mortally sick and came to be the Vilna Gaon for forgiveness. The Vilna Gaon calmed him down and reassured him that he need not worry, and that he was in fact deeply grateful to him for having granted him the opportunity to withstand a nisoyon (test) and put his trust completely in Hashem. Rav Sternbuch relates that even in his lifetime he was witness to people who approximated this highest level of bitachon (belief) and who merited a corresponding hashgocha (Divine Providence)

“There did not remain even one of them” (“ad echad”)

The Medrash interprets the term “Ad Echad” to mean “but” one, that is, one did remain alive, namely Paroh. This Medrash seems difficult to understand. What did Paroh to deserve to remain alive? We can understand this through the Baal Shem Tov’s parable explaining the possuk, “Oh Hashem to whom vengeance belongs”. There was once a king who lost his way and when he claimed to be king, everyone made fun of him. When he found his way back to the palace one minister recommended that everyone who had failed to help the King be given the death penalty, but another minister suggested that a better punishment would be for the King to appear before all those guilty of showing disrespect towards him, since their resulting humiliation would constitute the most appropriate punishment. So too the ultimate punishment for those who fail to serve Hashem is for Hashem to appear in person kivyachol as a result of which transgressors will suffer unspeakable shame an dembarrassment. Paroh too was kept alive, so that he could suffer the torment of being the sole survivor and of being left with nothing after claiming to be an all-powerful being to whom were subservient.

“And they believed in Hashem”

Bnei Yisrael surely believed in Hashem even before this event, but until that time it was more of an intellectual belief, whereas now this was transformed into complete emotional conviction (emuna chushis). The Chosed Yaavetz (15th century gadol who died in 1507, not the son of the Chacham Zvi) who was born in Spain and left id during the Expulsion in 1492 wrote that during the period of the inquisition the Jewish philosophers were the first to convert, whereas the simple folk, imbued with simple faith, refused to succumb. The philosophers just used their philosophical knowledge to rationalize their actions. Whilst there is room for a philosophical appreciation of Hashem’s existence (as borne out, for example, by the Chovos Halevovos) experience shows that simple emuno chushis is the higher level to strive for, and one that is unique to the Jewish nation.

“…and in His servant Moshe”

A slave fulfills his master’s wishes only insofar as he is required to do so, whereas a faithful son desires to fulfill his father’s wishes beyond what he is actually asked to do. An ordinary yid should aspire to serve Hashem primarily with the level of a son, but Moshe Rabbeinu who handed down the Torah to us had to serve Hashem primarily with the aspect of a slave who does not move one iota from his master’s instructions.

“Then came Amolek and fought Yisrael in Refidim”

It is brought down that in the period leading up to the coming of moshiach Amolek will gain a foothold even amongst the Jewish nation. Unfortunately, Amolek can even take the form of a supposedly Orthodox rabbi. When a well-known Rabbi seeks to grant legitimacy to conversion, which he himself knows to be null and void, thereby tearing the Torah to pieces, we must be aware of this possibility and act accordingly.