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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, February 11, 2011

Expressing Humility

Humble Measurements

All the measurements of the Aron, which contained the Torah, were half measurements (amosayim vocheitzei etc). This teaches us that limud haTorah requires ceaseless toil, and we must never be satisfied with the efforts invested in our learning, but must always aspire to reach ever greater levels. For this reason, the ultimate title awarded to any Jew is to be a talmid chochom (a Torah scholar) and not a chochom, since even someone who ahs acquired and absorbed much Torah must consider himself to be only a talmid of a chochom and not an actual chochom.

Humility is an essential trait for attaining any genuine madreigah (level) in Torah, and this may also be seen from the fact that the Aron, although surrounded by gold, was made of word. To the outside world, a talmid chochom must act the part of a chochom. His behavior must be impeccable and he must insist on kavod haTorah in the conduct of others. However, within himself, he must be like “wood” – utterly, humble and not claiming any credit for himself.

Give in order to Get

All the meforshim wonder about the Torah’s phraseology at the beginning of Parshas Terumah. Why does it say, “that they take for Me an offering”, instead of “that they give an offering to Me”? This teaches us that a person must be aware that whenever he gives away “his” possessions, he is not parting with anything belonging to himself, but is only transferring an object actually due to the recipient. For example, when we make a donation to an oni (a poor person) who is entitled to our maser kesafim (giving a 1/10 of our money to charity), we will be blessed in return with manifold blessings.

A donor must recognize that his donation is, in truth, the means for receiving blessings from Hakadosh Boruch Hu. Similarly, the Yisrael who gives matnos kehunah (those gifts given to the Kohen), is in turn, blessed by the kohanim: “So shall they put My name upon the Bnei Yisrael, and I will bless them”. Therefore, so far from patting one’s shoulder for his generosity, a person who parts with his property due to an obligation prescribed by the Torah should be grateful for the opportunities presented to him to receive Hashem’s bounty in this way.

Educational Priorities

Chazal tell us that the two faces of the Keruvim were in the form of a young boy and a young girl. This teaches us that when the Kohen gadol goes into the Kodesh Hakodoshim (Holy of Holies) in the midst of his lofty thoughts, he must humbly remember to invest major efforts into the education of his children, including even his young children.

When the Brisker Rov zt”l was the rov of Brisk, he was very particular about the education of his children and put a lot of effort into investigating what they were doing, who their friends were, and so on. Some members of the community looked askance at his preoccupation with his children’s education and told him that, as the rabbi of the city, it was his duty first and foremost to invest more time in meeting the city’s many requirements. The Brisker Rov responded that the education of those children was more important to him than anything else in the world, and if they felt that this constituted an obstacle to the proper fulfillment of his rabbinical duties, he would be willing to resign his position.

Elevating the Mundane

In the Mishkan and the Bais Hamikdash, the mizbeiach (altar) was in the middle, with the Menorah to the south and the Shulchan (table) to the north. The Shulchan has to face the mizbeiach to demonstrate that we must eat lesheim Shomayim, to preserve our health in order to be able to serve Hashem properly. Similarly, we dip bread in salt every meal. Although there are reason al pi Kabbolah for this practice, we can understand it on a plain level too. Salt, on its own, is not considered a delicacy for most people, but when used to season other food, it becomes an essential component. So too, if we consume food merely in order to satisfy our appetite, it is not a worthy act per se, but if we eat with the requisite intentions, the food becomes an elevated vehicle for serving Hashem.

External Trappings

The light of the Menorah symbolizes the light of the Torah. The posuk says, “Its knobs and its flowers shall be of one piece with it”. The Chasam Sofer sees this as an indication that the Torah is all-encompassing and does not need to be supplemented by knowledge from any external sources. At various stages of our history, some people felt the need to incorporate philosophy or other branches of non-Jewish wisdom into the Torah. This happened, for example, in Spain and Germany. In truth, however, anyone willing to dedicate himself exclusively to Torah will find even a “button” – i.e. external mundane wisdom – to be an integral part of the Torah itself, and will feel no need to have recourse to foreign sources to “supplement” the Torah.

Islamic Stirrings

This past week, we saw the movement which started in Tunisia spread to our most populous neighbor, Egypt, and even to Jordan. What started as a popular uprising has all the makings of becoming a veritable earthquake. The Zohar says that in the period leading up to the coming of Moshiach, the descendants of Yishmael will enjoy enormous power in the merit of the mitzvah of milah. Unfortunately, many of his descendants display immense dedication to their religion, and we must demonstrate at least as much mesirus nefesh in all aspects of Yiddishkeit.

We saw before that even in the Kodesh Hakodoshim, the Kohen Gadol was not to remain exclusively immersed in other worldly thoughts. The bells on his me’il cautioned him against any thoughts of his own righteousness in the holiest place. They served as a wake-up call to remind him not to remain silent in the face of any breaches against the Torah but rather to voice his vigorous protest against them.

When circumstances call for such protests, there is no place for either self-righteousness or humility. As for the so-called political situation, we are totally dependent on Hakadosh Boruch Hu. Based on a natural analysis of current events, there is no room for optimism at all and we may feel that we will inevitably be forced to endure calamities the likes of which we have not experienced since becoming a nation. However, if we come to the realization that salvation lies only with Hashem, and if we do whatever the Torah requires of us to stand up for kevod Shomayim (honoring the Kingdom of Heaven) Hashem will surely help us.


Yulia said...

"a person who parts with his property due to an obligation prescribed by the Torah should be grateful for the opportunities presented to him to receive Hashem’s bounty in this way." This is very tough thing to do for a jew. JH HERTZ says: "The Jew's home has rarely been his 'castle'. Throughout the ages it has been something far higher--his sanctuary."

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

Rabbi Chaim Coffman responds:

Definitely true, the home can be used for having guests and many good things. One thing we have to keep in mind is that this world is like a corridor to the world to come and we are just passing through. We shouldn't make the mistake and get involved in having the next gadget or keeping up with the Jones'.

We have to remember that after 120 years, we will have to give an accounting for our lives and the only thing we leave in this world is our good deeds!