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, December 23, 2011

Rav Sternbuch Ask the Raavad

A Silver Menorah for the Chosson

Question: My oldest daughter just became
a kallah and we heard that we should buy our new chosson a silver Chanukah menorah. Does Rav Sternbuch think that this is the correct hanhagah?
Rabbi Gershon Unger

Answer: If you can afford to buy your chosson a silver menorah, it is certainly a good idea to do so, for it expresses chavivus for the chosson and it is a hiddur in the mitzvah. If it is financially difficult for you, then you should not strain yourself and buy him a silver menorah.


The Raavad had a son who was called “Rav Yitzchok Sagi Nahor” (literally blind), who
was a great mekubal. Rav Yitzchok, in Kuntres Sod Hadlokas Neiros Chanukah, ruled that the menorah plays an integral part of the mitzvah of hadlokas neiros Chanukah. The Avnei Nezer (Orach Chaim 500) and the Chessed L’Avrohom (grandfather of the Chidah, as cited in Kaf Hachaim 673:60) cite this understanding as the halacha, and they write that one who does not use a menorah - e.g., he merely lights wax candles on a stone surface - does not fulfill the mitzvah properly.

In order to fulfill the requirement to light in a utensil, one does not have to use a
menorah. Someone who lights olive oil in shot glasses is also considered to have lit
in a kli. However, it is preferable to use an actual menorah, since this is how the
avodah was performed in the Bais Hamikdosh.

However, the Gemara and Shulchan Aruch do not mention that one must have a
menorah to fulfill the mitzvah. According to most opinions, including the Mishnah Berurah (671:18), this is considered to be the halacha. Therefore, one fulfills his obligation even if he does not use a menorah.

At the end of Kuntres Sod Hadlokas Neiros Chanukah, Rav Yitzchok Sagi Nahor notes
that Chazal say that whoever is careful regarding neiros Chanukah will have children who are talmidei chachomim. Yet, many people light Chanukah candles and do not merit such children.

Rav Yitzchok explains that the promise of Chazal only applies to someone who lights
according to all of the hiddurim and is careful to avoid all questionable situations. Let us look at some of the details of hiddur mitzvah regarding the Chanukah lights.


The Mishnah Berurah rules: “A person should go out of his way to acquire a beautiful
menorah and candles” (Mishnah Berurah 673:28). The Mishnah Berurah implies that,
according to all opinions, it is considered to be a hiddur (beautify) to use a beautiful menorah, similar to a beautiful paroches being a hiddur for a Sefer Torah. What is considered a beautiful menorah?

The poskim inform us which types of menorahs are considered to be the most attractive. Precious metals are the most beautiful. Therefore, silver is the first choice. After that come cheaper metals that look like precious ones (golden brass followed by red brass, iron, tin and then lead). If one cannot obtain a metal menorah, one may use less expensive materials, such as glass, wood, bone, lead-lined pottery or even pottery. Therefore, if you can afford to purchase a silver menorah for your chosson, it is certainly an appropriate gift. However, since one certainly fulfills the mitzvah without a silver menorah, a person should not put himself into financial strain to buy one for himself or his


The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 673:1) rules that “all types of wicks and oils are kosher for Chanukah lights, even if the oil will not be drawn up to the wick and the light of the flame will not be held steadily by the wick. However, the best way to fulfill the mitzvah is with olive oil.”

Olive oil adds a special dimension to Chanukah lights. The Mishnah Berurah (673:4) explains that as one of the purest oils, olive oil is smoothly drawn up the wick, producing a beautiful flame. At the same time, it provides us with a direct reminder of the original miracle - the olive oil that lasted eight days (Levush and Pri Chodosh).

The Gemara (Shabbos 23a) says that all types of oil are appropriate for the
Chanukah ner. We know that in the wording of Chazal, ner usually refers to the candle
holder and not the actual light. If the beautification of using olive oil is in the lights, why does the Gemara mention the ner and not the actual Chanukah lights?

This Gemara can be understood according to the opinions that the menorah is part of the mitzvah. According to this understanding, the olive oil and the menorah join together to produce the mitzvah. Since the olive oil beautifies the menorah and the menorah helps beautify the olive oil, the Gemara states that olive oil