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.
Sunday, February 26, 2012

After the Dibros

By Rav Moshe sternbuch


Receiving the Aseres Hadibros was seemingly the climax of Kabbolas HaTorah. What could possible follow such a powerfully charged event as hearing Hashem speak to us at Har Sinai? Yet, the Torah continues with “Aileh hamishpatim,” describing numerous mitzvos bein adam lachaveiro. (between man and man)

What is the deeper message of the juxtaposition of these two parshiyos? While the Aseres Hadibros were clearly of Divine origin, one might question whether these laws of proper business conduct, damages and other interpersonal regulations are also from the Almighty. This is the reason why the parsha starts with the letter Vov, to show that all of these mitzvos were also given on Har Sinai.

While human nature is to get upset about damages that happen to us, the Zohar reveals the deeper meaning of these incidents. The Zohar writes: “These are the laws of gilgul, things that Hashem causes as retribution.”
When we are meant to be punished nfor a certain transgression, Hashem may be megalgel on us a different type of punishment in order to cleanse us of this sin.

Hearing these words of the Zohar should help us change our outlook when we suffer damages. If we keep in mind that this is meant to help take away punishment for our transgressions, we should have an easier time not feeling upset about what happened. While we have a right to collect any money that is coming to us, we should try and free ourselves of negative feelings that these incidents may foster within our hearts.


In most parts of the world, the penal system has shown itself to be a complete failure. Sitting in jail with other convicts often has a negative impact on prisoners. After serving time, criminals come out with an even greater anger, and many return to a life of crime.

The Torah’s approach to criminal rehabilitation reveals the great sensitivity to others, even after they have fallen to great depths. Instead of being thrown in jail, convicts are placed into a Jewish home and taught how a Jew is meant to live an upright life. Such an experience changes their outlook
on life and will almost inevitably bring them to complete repentance.

The Torah directs us to display a heightened level of sensitivity to these criminals. If a person has only one pillow or bed, he must give it to these slaves rather than use it for himself or his family. Day after day in such a benevolent environment helps him see the beautiful ways of the Torah and will inspire him to choose such a lifestyle for himself.


While adopting a heightened attitude of sensitivity towards eved ivri, we simultaneously want him to remember the reason for his punishment. If he is already married, we make him live with a shifcha Canaanis.

Forcing him to live together with a non- Jewish salve should infuse within his heart the base nature of his transgression. So too, if an eved ivri decides to stay with his master after his service is complete, we put an awl in his ear. What is the reason for this unusual punishment? Chazal want him to realize that he did not properly hear what Hashem said at Har Sinai: “You should be slaves to Me” and not accept other masters upon yourself.

The hole in his ear serves as a constant reminder that one is only meant to have one Master, Hashem. In today’s complex world, one’s occupation can become so much a part of his life that he might find that he is a slave to his work. We must try and hear the message that the Torah tells us regarding the nirtzah and guard ourselves from taking on masters other than Hashem.


When referring to the oppression of converts, the Torah adds, “Lo tilachtzeinu.” Rashi explains that this means that one should not steal from him. However, the Gemara in Maseches Bava Metzia (59b) implies that one should not try and collect from him if he does not have money.

If someone owes us money, we are allowed to ask him for it, and if he does not want to pay, we can take him to bais din. Even if there is only a doubt if one is obligated to pay us, we may summon the person to a din Torah to clarify the situation. This is all part of proper mishpat.

Lo tilachtzeinu comes to teach us that in the same set of circumstances, if we have a doubt whether a ger owes us money, we should not summon him to bais din. The Torah expects us to reach an elevated level of sensitivity and recognize the social and economic difficulties that converts face.

This heightened awareness is meant to translate itself in all forms of interaction with them. We must display a similar level of sensitivity
when relating to widows and orphans. In many cases, all of the individuals have no one to turn to for financial and emotional help and are very susceptible to the pain. We must recognize their vulnerability and exhibit a heightened level of sensitivity when dealing with them.


The Torah directs us to lend money to the Jewish people and to provide for the poor of my nation. “Lending money to My nation” hints to dealing with public affairs of Klal Yisroel. Even whilst engaged in such activities, one should be sensitive to the needs of the impoverished and not forget to provide for the “poor of My nation.”

Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky once went to speak with the rov of a certain town. Rav Chaim asked him what he felt the responsibilities of a Jewish leader were. The rov replied that he had to teach Torah, make sure that the Talmud Torah functioned properly, and ensure that the kashrus, taharas hamishpacha and mikvaos were kept up to standard.

Rav Chaim Ozer was very happy to hear the response of this rov, yet he added that the rov should make sure that while he was busy with all of these important tasks, he should not forget one more: A rov must make sure that the impoverished of his city are provided for.


“You should follow the majority.”

The Torah is sensitive to the fact that one person is not always privy to the whole truth. For this reason, bais din and the Sanhedrin represent more than one opinion. The Yaavetz, Rav Yonason Eibshitz, was once asked that if the Torah tells us to follow the majority, then we should follow the religion of the other nations of the world who outnumber the Jewish people. Rav Eibshitz replied that while it is true that we follow the majority opinion, this is only when a situation of doubt exists. We are sure that the Torah is the only truth, so there is no significance to the majority opinion in that regard.

We follow a similar policy when it comes to daas Torah. Although many people in a community may have their own ideas of how things should be done, this should not be the deciding factor. The majority opinion should fall to the wayside in the face of the ruling of a rov.


“I will fill up the number of your days.”

The Torah promises a Jew who sticks to its elevated ways a full life. While there are those who are granted arichas yomim for clinging to the ways of the Torah, the Torah comes to deliver a deeper message. “A full life” means that a person uses every one of his days prudently to reach the highest level of Divine service that he can. In this vein, the Zohar writes that there is a special place in Shomayim for mara dechusbana, someone who takes an accounting of his deeds each day. Every morning, Rav Chaim Brisker would plan out what he had to do that day, and in the evening he would make an accounting of whether he accomplished what he had set out to do.

“Living a full life” has many implications. Each person must look into his own life and see what the Almighty asks of him. Adhering to the elevated level of sensitivity that the Torah shows us is definitely an important part of accomplishing this.