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.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012


 By Rav Moshe Sternbuch

• • • • •
Sanctity of Eretz Yisroel

“Speak to Bnei Yisroel and say to them, when you come to the land which I give to you” (25:2).
            For the inhabitants of Eretz Yisroel who are on an appropriate spiritual level, the sanctity of Eretz Yisroel has a greatly impact on the quality of their Torah and mitzvos. However, the relationship between us and Eretz Yisroel is a mutual one: the sanctity of Eretz Yisroel is not static, but rather increases in proportion to the quantity and quality of mitzvos which we perform within it. By using the present tense: "when you come to the land" instead of the future, "when you will come to the land", the possuk is telling us that the sanctity of this land is in a constant state of flux. Although it is inherently holy, the extent of its holiness depends on us.

Eternal investments

“You shall count for yourself seven sabbatical years, seven years, seven times and it shall be for you, the days (period) of the seven sabbatical years, forty-nine years” (25:8).
            The Dubna Maggid zt”l brings the parable of a person presented with 10,000 cents. At first, he is overjoyed at the amount of coins in his possession, but then someone points out to him that he has been blinded by the sight of all those coins, and that in reality his “fortune" amounts to no more than $100.
            Similarly, some people imagine that the world belongs to them and that they will live forever. Even a middle-aged person who thinks about his parents who lived into their 80s and 90s, or considers the current average life expectancy, and then calculates how many days, months, or even years he is likely to have left in this world, may not feel that concentrating his energies on things of eternal value is something of immediate importance. However, if he starts thinking in terms of seven-year shemita units, he will realize that even in the far from certain event that all his statistical predictions will materialize, he still does not have that many time units left, and it is indeed high time to think of making suitable investments to enhance the quality of his eternal abode.   

HOnesty pAys

“You shall not cheat one another, and you shall fear your G-d.” (25:17).
            This prohibition appears in the middle of the section on shmitta. The mitzva of shmitta is meant to reinforce our faith that Hashem runs the world and that our efforts are not the real cause of our livelihood. If a businessman dishonestly claims that his goods are of the best quality or the cheapest, he is displaying a lack of such faith. He may make an easy profit in the short-term, but it is likely to be at the expense of trouble in the future, such as financial losses, health issues etc.
            Even if the fraudster intends to use his gains for worthy purposes, the possuk warns him not to chap, and to always remain honest. That way he will be worthy of receiving Hashem’s enduring blessings.       
            This aspect of business is often hidden from the eyes of friends and acquaintances, who may even think that the culprit is the epitome of honesty. Therefore, the possuk stresses: “and you shall fear your G-d”: remember that you will have to account for all your deeds to your Creator.

Chesed in learning

“If your brother becomes impoverished and his means fail with you, then you shall uphold him” (25:35)
            This mitzvah essentially concerns charity for the poor, but many people are impoverished not necessarily in a financial sense; they may be downtrodden for personal reasons or because they are not succeeding in their learning, and in need of a kind word and encouragement.
            The Avnei Nezer zt”l asks how the Bnai Yisroel observed the mitzvos of tzdoko and chesed in the wilderness where everybody's material needs were met through the mon. He answers that they taught each other Torah and wisdom, and that imparting knowledge is at least as worthy as parting with one's money for the sake of charity. In fact, someone who teaches and encourages others with less knowledge or capabilities than himself is fulfilling both the mitzvah of helping out his impoverished brother and the positive commandment of tzedoko.
            When Rav Sternbuch was in Yeshiva his rov, Rav Moshe Schneider zt”l insisted on the brighter students spending time helping out younger or less capable talmidim. He argued Torah must be accompanied by chesed, and someone interested only in his own Torah would not enjoy success in learning in the long term.

Bitochon and HIshtadlus

“You shall not take from him interest or usury” (25:36)
            The Kli Yokor explains that usually in business a person prays to Hashem that he will succeed in his endeavors, because he is uncertain whether his deal will succeed, but if someone lends with interest his income is seemingly fixed and certain, and he is less likely to realize his dependence on Hashem. That is why this prohibition is stated in juxtaposition to the mitzvah of shemita, because the essence of shemita too to is inculcate the mitzvah of bitochon.                    
            According to the Vilna Gaon zt”l we are permitted to refrain from making any effort whatsoever to gain a living, if our level of bitochon justifies it. That is how the Vilna Goan himself acted in his own life and Rav Schneider told Rav Sternbuch that he still knew people in Vilna who were the students of the students of the Vilna Gaon, who had absolute bitochon and enjoyed corresponding hashgocho.  
            Even though we are unlikely to reach such spiritual heights, and in any case, the Chovos Halevovos states that even on the ideal plane a person must make at least minimal efforts for parnosso, the fact that such people existed so close to our own times should still serve as a source of inspiration for us.

Lesson of the Yovel

“He shall reckon with the one who bought him from the year which he was sold to him until the jubilee year” (25:50)
            At the beginning of the yovel cycle, the redemption fee which the slave has to pay to redeem himself is high, but it becomes reduced as the years come closer to the yovel year. The Chofetz Chaim zt”l used this phenomenon to explain how we can expect Moshiach to come if he did not appear in earlier generations, which were on a much higher level than ours.
            Hashem fixed a time for our redemption, and the early generations needed lots of merits to accelerate it. We, on the other hand, who are so close to the final chapter of golus are not required to “pay such a large fee" to merit redemption. Hashem does not expect us to do more than our utmost, based on our own abilities and circumstances, to merit eternal freedom. "And the ransomed of Hashem shall return, and come with singing to Tziyon, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads, they shall obtain gladness and enjoy, and sorrow and signing shall flee away” (Yeshaya 35:10).