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, August 11, 2011

Shailos UTeshuvos with Rav Moshe Sternbuch, Rosh Av Bais Din of Yerushalayim

Protecting ourselves from Murder

Question: What is a Torah perspective on the murder of Leiby Ketzky z"l that took place in Brooklyn and the recent murder of Rav Elazar Abuchatzeirah zt"l in Eretz Yisrael?

Answer: These incidents are a result of society's sensitization of the value of human life and the general state of impurity that exists in the world today. We must try and separate ourselves from this impurity in order to resensitize ourselves.

Unbridled Killing

Rav Elazar Abuchateirah zt"l was a grandson of the Baba Sali and a son of Rav Meir Abuchatzeirah. Thirty years ago, Rav Meir reported that Rav Shimon bar Yochai came to him in a dream and told him that Rav Elazar would be murdered. Unfortunately, this week that dream became a reality.

The person who killed Rav Elazar was supposedly a rebbi in a cheder and considered himself to be a religious Jew. How can a person reach such a low level to commit one of the most serious transgressions in the entire Torah? We can ask the same question about the recent murder in Brooklyn.

We can gain some insight into these incidents from Moshe Rabbeinu, who set aside three arei miklat (cities of Refuge) on the side of the Jordan River across from Eretz Yisrael. In the whole of Eretz Yisrael, Moshe Rabbeinu only set up three of these cities of refuge. Why was there the same number of arei miklat across the Jordan River if the number of Jews living there was significantly less?

Chazal tell us that the reason that three cities of refuge were needed across the Jordan was because there were many murderers in Gilad. However, this does not seem to be sufficient reason to set up these cities. These people killed bemeizid, intentionally, and the arei miklat were only for those who killed beshogeg, unintentionally.

The vast numbers of murders that took place in Gilad lessened the severity of this transgression in the eyes of the populace. Once killing was not considered such a grave transgression, people were not careful to guard themselves from it. As a consequence, in addition to all the people killed intentionally in Gilad, many were killed unintentionally as well.

Maintaining Sensitivity

We live in a world where people are constantly exposed to murder on the internet, in the media, and in movies. As a result, killing no longer has the same gravity it once had, and in the past weeks we have seen the results with these murders that have taken place. How can we regain our sensitivities and ensure that we will not be dragged along with the tide that is sweeping the world?

The Torah tells us that when people come to testify that a person must be killed for a transgression, the witnesses must be the ones who actually carry out the punishment. IN doing so, one fulfills the command of "Uvi'arta hara'ah mikirbecha", which, on a simple level, means destroying the evil amongst you. What is the deeper significance of this command?

Rav Meir Simcah, the Ohr Same'ach, explains that seeing a transgression takes place will inevitably numb the senses of those who witnessed it. Carrying out the capital punishment will help them regain their sensitivities to the seriousness of the sin that happened. By doing so, they accomplish "Uvi'arta hara'ah mikirbecha" on a personal level. They remove this evil influence from within themselves.

We must try as much as possible to distance ourselves from contact with things that dull our senses towards murder. Fortunate is a person who can stay away from these influences and not let his sensitivities be destroyed. By guarding one's eyes from seeing many of the abominations which are dragging the world down at a rapid pace, he has a chance of protecting himself from this evil.

We must try as much as possible to distance ourselves from contact with things that dull our senses towards murder. Fortunate is a person who can stay away from these influences and not let his sensitivities be destroyed. By guarding one's eyes from seeing many of the abominations which are dragging the world down at a rapid pace, he has a chance of protecting himself from this evil.

A person who works in bringing Jews back to Torah may be forced to come in contact with these negative influences. While he is certainly performing critical work for Klal Yisrael, he should remember that when a person touches things at that are not clean, his hands will inevitably become dirty. They must take special measures to ensure that their sensitivities are not destroyed.

Gehennom under his Feet

It is well-known that Rav Yitzchok Zeev Soloveitchik, the Brisker Rov, lived with constant recognition of the reality of gehennom. So much so that people described the Brisker Rov as living with gehennom under his feet. How did the Rov achieve this level of sensitivity?

When the Brisker Rov was six years old, his father, Rav Chaim Brisker, explained to him what gehennom was like. This conversation had a major impact on the young Yitzchok Zev. For the rest of his days, he lived with a constant fear of what gehennom would be like.

We live in a world where immorality is rampant, and the severity of transgressions is increasing daily. Just a few hours before the murder of Rav Elazar Abuchatzeirah, 1,500 sinners paraded on the holy streets of Yershalayim, flaunting the fact that they engage themselves in one of the most heinous transgressions of the entire Torah. This abhorrent act took place a short distance away from the place of the Bais Hamikdosh.

Events such as these drag down the entire generation and take away sensitivities towards holiness. We must try and do whatever we can to avoid the impact of their actions and preserve feelings of kedushah. The more we can hold on to these feelings, the less we will be harmed from their destructive influence.


Ken "Doc Reefer" Kirk said...

Thank you Rabbi, I'm a man taking his first look into conversion an I'll be checking your blog again for sure. Your article point out to me how little I know about Jewish culture and tradition. Thanks for the insight.

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

If you are interested, you can also take a look at my facebook fan page at Beyond Orthodox Conversion to Judaism. You can also contact me at rabbichaimcoffman@gmail.com If there is anything I can help you with let me know.


bareket57 said...

Great Article! Thank you.