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.
Friday, July 1, 2011

Shailos UTeshuvos

With Rav Moshe Sternbuch, Rosh Av Bais Din of Yerushalyim


The Gemara in Maseches Sotah (2a) states that 40 days before a baby is fully formed, a Heavenly voice proclaims that the daughter of ploni will marry ploni. From Chazal it appears as if everything has already has been arranged in Shomayim (heaven) and there isn't much room for human intervention. Where is the place for tefillos and histadlus?

"Everything is in the hands of Heaven except for fear of Heaven" (Brachos 33a)

The Rambam explains that "everything" refers to minhag ha'olam, the way of the world, and "fear of Heaven" includes human action. This implies that when trying to accomplish something in this world, a person must take the normal measures that are followed.

In order to strengthen this understanding, the Rambam poses the following question: The Torah exempts a man from the army during the first year of his marriage, "lest he die in battle and another person take her as a wife." If all marriages are "made in Heaven" then why should one consider such possibilities?

The Rambam derives from here that the announcement of "bas ploni leploni" is a special reward that some people are given. It does not apply in every situation, and in many cases the zivug is decided based on a person's merits and actions. Therefore, a person must daven and make the normal hishtadlus, and should not merely wait for the Heavenly proclamation to transpire (response of Rambam 436 and commentary on Avos 4:22)


We all know that the Al-mighty single-handedly runs and guides the world according to His will. Yet, with the spiritual downfall prevalent in today's society, it is often difficult to see His Hand in action. If we look at life superficially, we might not recognize that the Al-mighty is behind it all.

There is one area left in the world in which His intervention is clear. When it comes to shidduchim there is no doubt that the Al-mighty alone is in charge. For example, at times, boys and girls who have everything going for them have difficulty finding their zivuggim, while others who do not have their qualities get engaged right away.

"A person does not have any portion in the Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu until he knows that everything is miraculous and that there is no such thing as nature." (Ramban, end of Parshas Bo) If so, what makes the area of shidduchim different than anything else? Since it is still recognizable that the Al-mighty controls this area of our lives we have more of an obligation to recognize it and turn to Him as our only Source of hope.


Rav Sternbuch once asked the Chazon Ish what the most important quality to look for in a wife is. The Chazon Ish replied that if she is a bas Torah, the main thing to look for in a spouse is flexibility. If someone is flexible then they will be able to settle whatever issues come up afterwards.

Rav Sternbuch relates another incident in which a bachur asked the Chazon Ish about marrying a certain girl. She came from an affluent family and wanted someone who would learn and also work, but was willing to sacrifice and take a boy who was only learning Torah. Should he pursue this shidduch further?

The Chazon Ish replied that he should definitely not consider it. Marrying a ben Torah is the greatest privilege possible, and therefore he should find a girl who appreciates this and does not view it as a sacrifice. The boy married a much simpler girl and today is a well-known talmid chacham.


Living amongst non-Jews has taken its toll on the Jewish people. Their influence has caused us to take on some of their practices which contradict the ways of the Torah. The secular world is rooted in non-Torah philosophies, and the area of dating has been especially hard hit from these influences.

Some people maintain that they cannot get married until they feel a very strong attraction for the person that they are dating. They meet for months on end until they are convinced that t they are ready to get married. Sometimes, at the end of this drawn out dating period, they will finally find some reason not to get engaged and the shidduch will be off.

Generally, people are only hurting themselves by following this practice. People hope that in the course of the dating, they will weed out all of the potential problems that could come up in marriage. At times, the opposite is true, if they had gotten married, most of these problems would be overlooked.

We must be aware that love before marriage is not a Torah concept. If the couple gets along ell, they can build a Torah home together and in most cases can finish off the shidduch and get engaged. This was the way that Jewish homes have always been built.