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 22, 2011

Shailos uTeshovos with Rav Moshe Sternbuch, Rosh Av Bais Din of Yersushalayim

Question: My nephew is getting bar mitzvah the week before Rosh Hashanah and I am planning to travel to Yerushalayim for the occasion. Meanwhile, because of the vote for the Palestinian state, many people have postponed their trips to Israel, and a number of the flights were canceled as a result. I do not feel that I should forgo my trip, but I would like to know what the rav feels.

Uncle Ben
Cincinnati Ohio

Answer: We have no way of knowing what the future holds in store for us, and if there will be tranquility or not. If you are not afraid of the situation, then you should come. If someone is worried about the situation, I cannot advise him to come to Israel or not.

Whoever comes, whether it is now or any other time, should realize that visiting Israel is not just a matter of taking a plane and traveling to a different country. Before coming here, especially to Yerushalayim, a person should elevate his relationship with Hashem, befitting for someone who is entering the palace of the King. In the times of the Bais Hamikdash (Temple), Jews would travel from all over Israel to Yerushalayim to fulfill the mitzvah of bikkurim (giving of the first fruits), and we can get a deeper understanding of the outlook we are meant to have while in Israel and Yerushalayim from studying the parsha.

Political Plans

The Sifri writes that as soon as we came into Eretz Yisrael, we accepted upon ourselves the mitzvah of bikkurim. Yet, the Gemara in Maseches Kiddushin (37a) tells us that the mitzvah of bikkurim only started fourteen years after we entered Eretz Yisrael. How can we resolve this seeming contradiction?

The mitzvah of bikkurim entailed giving the first fruit to Hashem. By giving over the first fruit, we show that, in truth, everything belongs to Him, and that our toil and production are for nought without the Almighty. Even though we were technically unable to fulfill bikkurim upon entering Eretz Yisrael, we were still able to have an affiliation with the philosophy behind the mitzvah beforehand.

During these days, people's eyes are on the UN and how their decision will affect the future of Klal Ysirael. Before coming to Eretz Yisrael, a person should internalize the message of bikkurim: that the Almighty controls everything and that there is no such thing as politics in Israel. Hashem's will is the sole determining factor behind the future of the country, and all other considerations are irrelevant.

Jewish Leaders

When a person brought the first fruit to the Bais Hamikdash, he gave it to the kohein and addressed him, saying, "Hashem Elokecha - Hashem your G-d". Seemingly, he should have said, "Hashem our G-d". Why did the person bringing bikkurim exclude himself from this proclamation?

During the time of the Bais Hamikdash, the kohanim received gifts so thatthey would be able to be free of financial obligations and thus spend all of their time involved in Torah study. Bikkurim and all of the other gifts we brought the kohen allowed us the privilege of having a share in their Divine service. Saying "Your G-d" was a way of expressing that through their avodah, the kohanim acquired a very high perception of Hashem, greater than the normal person was able to achieve.

In Eretz Yisrael, the percentage of people involved in full-time Torah study is higher than in other countries. Full-time Torah study produces true talmidei chachomim (Torah scholars) who are able to be leaders of the Jewish people. Before coming to Eretz Yisrael, on should internalize this reality and recognize its necessity.

Enemies of Israel

While giving bikkurim to the kohein, we performed the mitzvah of krias bikkurim, making a statement that encapsulated the history of Klal Ysirael. Amongst the events we mention is Arami oveid avi, that Lavan wanted to kill Yaakov Avinu and uproot the Jewish nation. Why is it significant that we mention this event?

In the Haggadah Shel Pesach we say, "In every generation the enemies of the Jewish people try and destroy us, yet every time Hashem protects us and extricates us from their clutches". Sometimes we see open miracles at other times we experienced hidden Providence and the Divine Hand is much more hidden. Internalizing these miracles brings us to a higher perception of His existence and helps strengthen yiras Shamayim (fear of Heaven)

Israel is a tiny country surrounded by many enemy nations. From a strategic point of view our situation might appear hopeless, especially if an enemy state is established within our borders. Before traveling to Eretz Yisrael, one should realize that history has taught us time and time again not to look at the superficial face of a situation, but to recognize that Hashem is protecting us at all times.

A Month of Days

Elul is called yerach yomim, literally a month of days. Every month of the year is made up of days. What is the reason that Elul is given this special title?

Every day of Elul has within it the power for a person to search deep within himself and make changes in his life. Especially if one is privileged to be in Eretz Yisrael, one has an extra advantage of additional siyata diShmaya (Heavenly help). Every day of Elul should be used to its fullest.

From Rosh Chodesh Elul until Simchas Torah, we say LeDovid Hashem Ori. Chazal tell us that ori, my light refers to Rosh Hashanah, and yishi, my redemption, refers to Yom Kippur. If we use the month of Elul properly, then we will merit to experience the light of Rosh Hashanah, and then ten days later to see redemption on Yom Kippur.