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.
Saturday, October 8, 2011

Teshuvah: A drasha for Rosh Hashanah

By Rav Moshe Sternbuch

On Rosh Hashnah and Yom Kippur there is no mitzvah of aliyah leregel (traveling to Yerushalyim and the Bais Hamidkash - Temple). This is because Hashem is so close to us during this period that He, kevayachol, comes to each and every one of wherever we are. This special closeness is a wonderful gift, but it also imposes an obligation on us to utilize it to the utmost. Teshuvah is effective throughout the year, but sometimes it is not accepted, because Hashem asks why we did not make the most of the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah (10 days of repentance). The Meiri says in Maseches Rosh Hashanah that if someone is negligent in performing the mitzvah of teshuvah on Rosh Hashanah, he has no part in the G-d of the Jews.

The main aspect of teshuvah is the realization that we have transgressed before Hashem ("Poshati lefoncecha"). For this reason, the emphasis on Rosh Hashanah is on "crowning" Hashem. By doing so, and by crowning Hashem not just over all the upper worlds but over all our limbs and all aspects of our personal lives, we are in effect, repenting as a prelude to Yom Kippur without actually performing the more formal aspects of the mitzvah of teshvuah.

Bnei Torah (religious Jews) are judged first (mishpat avdo) and are subjected to more exacting standards than the rest of the nation, because more is expected of them. A ben Torah is required to show how many masectos (Talmudic tractates) he has learnt, reviewed and mastered. Every Jew has a portion in the World to Come, except an apikores (heretic), such as someone who is able to learn Torah but does not do so. A ben Torah must make sure that he is not guilty of this to any extent.

He must also be especially careful to avoid any chillul Hashem, which even Yom Kippur does not atone for. Even a seemingly small act, such as coming late to shul, which influences others for the worse, can come within the category of chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d's name) regardless of whether any such result was intended.

After the judgment of benei Torah, a judgment takes place of the rest of the nation (mishpat amo Yisrael).On Rosh Hashanah, Hashem not only decrees whether we are to remain physically alive, but He also investigates the vitality of our neshamos and whether they are still "alive." Let us make man in his image". A person creates himself and determines the way his soul appears based on the quantity and quality of the Torah and avodah with which he "feeds" his neshamah.

Rav Elya Lopian zt"l would stress the importance of dedicating oneself to the public by undertaking actions to help the klal (general populace), since then, even if one's actions are wanting, Hashem will grant the person more time to do teshuvah, since punishing him at this stage would have an unwanted effect on his public activities. It must be borne tin mind, though, that for a yeshiva bochur, for example, the best thing he can do for the public may well be to remain next to his shtender and intensify his learning schedule.

When Rav Sternbuch was still in Johannesburg, a religious person came up to him and asked for a blessing that Hashem should not get involved with his business, and that it should continue to flourish. He explained that his business was, thank G-d doing well, and his sole request was that the situation should continue and nothing (including Hashem!) should get in the way of his material success. What he failed to realize was that on each Rosh Hashanah we have no more credit left in our spiritual account in Shomayim (heaven) and everything starts again from scratch. There is no such concept as a continuation of the current situation. Nothing can be taken for granted in any aspect of our lives. Unfortunately, many people have the same misconception as this person. Until Yom Kippur, we still have time to make the most of Hashem's unique closeness to us during this period.

We do not know what the coming year has in store for us. However, if any gezeiros (decrees) have been decreed for Eretz Yisrael, chas veshalom (G-d forbid), every Jew must realize that such gezeiros are for the whole Jewish nation, and can affect every Jew wherever he is. It is so much easier to obviate gezeiros in advance than it is to annul them once they start to be fulfilled. Let us do what we can now to avoid any deterioration in our situation.