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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.
Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ask the Raavad: Shailos uteshuvos with Rav Moshe Sternbuch

Questions may be sent to editor@yated. com and selected answers will be printed in this column. Answers are transcribed by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis. The answers given here are the general rule, but each case has its merits and drawbacks and must be referred to a posek.

Question: What is a Torah perspective of the killing of Osama bin Laden?

Answer: In America, there is sason vesimcha, great joy, regarding the killing of Osama bin Laden. They view the finding and slaying of this terrorist mastermind as a great accomplishment, as if they have successfully accomplished a major military victory. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.


Over the past ten years, America has employed thousands soldiers and spies to try and find Osama bin Laden. They spent millions, if not billions, of dollars trying to identify his whereabouts. The outcome of this monumental effort brought no major results, and America was not able to find him. During the interim period that America was searching for Osama bin Laden, a number of other terrorist acts took place, and many people were killed as a result. Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden had been living for years undisturbed in one of America’s ally countries. In the midst of all of this searching, he had been continuing business as usual, comfortably and like a king, in a compound the size of a palace. Even when America did locate him, it was not a result of their efforts. Rather, he virtually fell into their hands when they discovered one of bin Laden’s couriers. For anyone who takes the time to think about what happened, it is quite clear that this “victory” came from Above and not as a result of American prowess. Other than the Borei Olam, there is absolutely no reason for anyone else to take credit for what happened. The message that the Jewish people should take from this event is that victory does not come as a result of one’s strength, but only when Hashem wills that it should happen. Kochi ve’otzem yodi, attributing success to one’s own strength, is futile, for all of the money and manpower that America put into finding this killer did not directly bring the results. When Hashem decided that the time had come for his demise, Osama bin Laden met his downfall.


Most people see Osama bin Laden’s death as a major blow to the terrorist infrastructure and a great victory for the western world’s fight against terrorism. While this may be the case, it is not a reason for celebration. This event could easily be a cause for increased terrorist activity. The Arab world hailed Osama bin Laden as a martyr and a hero. His house in Pakistan is already becoming a shrine. Only Hashem knows what the repercussions of this killing will be. Yishmoel wants our complete annihilation and Osama bin Laden’s death could, chas veshalom, incite their anger to cause more terrorist activity. There is only one reaction that we should have towards such an event. We should turn our eyes upward in prayer and teshuvah, and beseech Hashem that we should not see any Jewish casualties as a result of what transpired.


Osama bin Laden’s death was a decree of Heaven and a message to us. After witnessing such an act of Providence, we should turn our hearts to the heavens in teshuvah. How can we ensure that our actions will find favor in Hashem’s eyes? The haftorah that we read on Shabbos Shuvah lays down the guidelines for doing teshuvah: “Return to Hashem, the Almighty, for you have stumbled in sin. Take with you words and go back to Hashem, say to Him forgive all transgression, and receive us graciously.. Ashur shall not save, we will not ride on horses, nor shall we say the work of our hands, You are our gods” (Hoshea 14:2- 4). The Novi stresses that a precondition for our teshuvah to be accepted is for us to recognize that the work of our hands is not a god. As long as we think that our successes and failures are a result of our own strengths and weaknesses, we are still far from our goal. Only when we unequivocally recognize that Hashem is our only source of salvation will the geulah come. The Mishnah at the end of Maseches Sotah states clearly that Moshiach will only come when we recognize that we can depend on nothing and no one other than our Father in Heaven. All of the tribulations that the Jewish people face can disappear in an instant. If we strengthen our emunah that there is no such thing as nature and that only Hashem runs the world, we will merit seeing miracles greater than those of Yetzias Mitzrayim.
No one has any idea what the future holds for Klal Yisrael. We hope that the death of Osama bin Laden is a step towards the downfall of Yishmael. May it be Hashem's will that everyone in Klal Yisrael recognize that Osama bin Laden's death was a result of Hashem's decree and that He should complete all the steps towards redemption quickly.