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, September 8, 2011

Driving Without a License

By Rav Moshe Sternbuch

Question: My neighbors allow their teenage son to drive their car. I know that he does not have a driver’s license, and a number of times I have seen him in dangerous situations, in which he almost hit other cars. His parents have been told, but they do not seem overly concerned about the situation. I was thinking of calling the police, but I thought that this might be a problem in halacha. Can the rov clarify this issue for me?
A Concerned Neighbor

Answer: A person who is driving without the proper knowledge of how to do so is a threat to his own life and the lives of others. He has the halachic status of a rodef (a pursuer) and it is definitely permitted to call the police in regards to this situation. However, one should first do everything possible to stop him in other ways - e.g., speak to their rov or anyone else who they will listen to before turning to the authorities.


The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 388:12) states: “If someone causes pain to an individual, it is forbidden to report him to the non-Jewish authorities. However, if he causes pain to the tzibbur,(community) it is permitted to turn someone over to the non-Jewish authorities.” The Rama adds that this includes counterfeiters and anyone else who could cause damage to Klal Yisroel. One might argue that in many cases it is unclear if such a person will actually cause damage. Perhaps he will not be caught, and even if he is, perhaps he will not be prosecuted. Nonetheless, the chance that he can cause damage is sufficient reason to report such a case to the police.

In most cases, the person involved does not have intention to hurt others. Since he is acting unintentionally, perhaps this is reason to be lenient with him. The Vilna Gaon discounts any such arguments and writes that as long as the person involved could be a potential danger; he is given the status of a rodef and may be turned over to the authorities.

One must take great care before applying the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch lemaaseh.
Turning someone over to the non-Jewish authorities unjustly gives one the status of a moser and is a serious transgression.

One must definitely consult with a rov before taking such action. However, someone who has not taken driving lessons will generally not drive well. He is a hazard to everyone around him and could easily take someone else’s life. Such an individual is given the status of rodef and definitely fits in the Shulchan Aruch’s ruling of one who may be turned over to the authorities.

Before calling the police, one should first try and influence the person to take lessons and apply for a license. If he does not listen and he disregards your warnings, then you should try to get someone else involved whom he will listen to. If that does not work, then, for the benefit of Klal Yisroel, you have no choice but to call the police, even if there is a possibility that he will be put in jail as a result.


The Torah states, “Tzedek tzedek tirdof - You should pursue justice” (Devorim 16:20). Generally, the Torah is very careful not to write any extra words. What is the second word tirdof coming to tell us? Pursuing justice is not a simple act, and sometimes it has unpleasant ramifications. At other times, it might be difficult and may put one in a situation in which they are involved with complicated legal proceedings.

Yet, one should follow in Hashem’s ways and love justice, putting all their effort into insuring that tzedek, justice, is carried out, and continue to do so until full tzedek has been achieved.

There was once an individual who was worried that he would get a severe punishment for his many traffic violations. He went to Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky with the hope of getting a bracha to escape the
harsh punishment that he expected. Instead of getting sympathy, Rav Yaakov had sharp words of criticism and told him that he was, in truth, deserving of the harshest punishment!

During Elul, we prepare ourselves to stand before Hashem on the days of judgment between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. If we want to ensure that we will be written into the Book of Life, we should
make sure that we are doing everything in our power to protect the lives of other Jews. Although turning someone over to the police outwardly seems cruel, in truth it is considered an act of great mercy to