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, January 13, 2011

Jewish Education

By Rav Moshe Sternbuch

Children and Grandchildren

“In order that you should relate this story to your children and grandchildren, and you should know that I am Hashem”
The Torah equates relating what took place in Mitzrayim to recognizing the existence of Hashem. While the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim certainly is a vehicle to make the Almighty part of our lives, it is difficult to understand why this is the litmus test as to whether one believes in Hashem.
Herein, the Torah reveals something about a deep aspect of our neshamos. A person might be a practicing Jew and extremely careful about performance of mitzvos, yet, the level of his recognition of Hashem’s existence depends on how much effort he places into relating the story of the makkos (plagues) to his children and grandchildren, i.e. giving his offspring a Jewish education.
Sending our children to the best yeshivos and seminaries is not sufficient. If we do not speak about Hashem’s greatness then fear of Heaven will not be implanted in their neshamos. Constantly speaking about the Almighty’s kindness and might especially as it expressed itself during the ten makkos – is a sign that our belief in Hashem is strong.

Choosing Life

The Yerushalmi explains that all of the Aseres Hadibros (10 Commandments) are hinted to in Krias Shema. While some of them are quite clear, seemingly there is no direct reference to lo tirtzach, do not murder. Where do we find an indication of this prohibition in Shema?
The Vilna Gaon explains that veshinantom levonecha, ensuring that the Torah is sharp on the tongues of our children, is a hint indicating the prohibition against murder. Someone who does not put in the proper effort to provide his children with a proper Jewish education is, in essence murdering them. Taking the Vilna Gaon’s words to heart will help us ensure that our children grow up to be healthy, happy, Torah-observant Jews.
In this light, we can gain some insight into what the Torah means when it tells us that after Hashem spoke to the Jewish people, they bowed down and thanked Him. Rashi explains that this was in response to the announcement that they would have children. Many children are born every year and at first glance, this would not seem to be a sufficient reason to respond with such great gratitude to Hashem.
“Having children” does not merely refer to the physical act of giving birth to offspring. Rather, Hashem promised us that if we educate our children properly, the offspring we bring into this world will be considered “our children”. If we live up to the Torah’s expectation of educating our children, they will follow in the sweet ways of the Torah.

Living with Torah

We are instructed to conduct the Pesach Seder at a time when the matzos and maror are in front of us. This is more than a time limit for when the Seder can be performed. Chazal meant to tell us thereby one of the major principles, but then, when it comes time to put them in practice, to do nothing. Judaism shuns this approach as antithetical to the Torah itself. Hashem gave us the Torah to put it into practice and to incorporate all of its ideologies into our everyday lives.
For this reason, we may only relate the story of Yetzias Mitrayim during the evening of the 15th of Nissan, at the time when we can fulfill the mitzvos of matzah and marror shows that discussion and practical action are integrally bound. There is no getting away with long, ethical discourses without practical fulfillment of the mitzvos.
We see a similar concept illustrated by tefillin. Arm tefillin are symbolic of the fulfillment of mitzvos, while head tefillin represent the deeper understanding of the mitzvos. We are not allowed to wear the head tefillin unless we are already wearing those of the arm for this would represent thought without actions. In order for our thoughts and actions to find favor in Hashem’s eyes, deep understanding must be synthesized with practical fulfillment.