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, May 24, 2012

Remaining Strong in our Faith

 By Rav Moshe Sternbuch

Growing in Torah

If you walk in My statutes (26:3) Rashi: “You shall toil in Torah."

Angels are static, but we are supposed to be constantly on the move. Each day something new should inspire us to reach ever higher levels of avodas Hashem. Only those who toil in the study of Torah can truly experience this. Its beauty and unfathomable depth enable our souls to grow correspondingly.

It is shuddering to think that this requirement of constant growth is one of the conditions for the fulfillment of the various rewards enumerated subsequently in the pessukim and therefore its absence can result in the fulfillment of the curses chas vesholom. It is incumbent upon us to endeavor to strengthen our dedication to Torah and thus increase kedusha in our lives on a daily basis.


And I will give your rains in their time” (26:4)

The Rishonim ask why the Torah does not explicitly mention the spiritual rewards and punishments of the World to Come. (See the Kli Yokor on 26:12 who summarizes seven different answers suggested by the Rishonim.)
         If the Torah would have specified the severe long-term spiritual ramifications of not keeping the Torah properly, this would have increased the claim against those who nevertheless fail to take note of the severity of sinning to such an extent as to endanger the very existence of the nation. For this reason, Hashem, in His mercy, wanted to conceal the main reward and punishment awaiting us. Moreover, this way, the reward of those who keep His Word even without knowing the full extent of the reward awaiting them will be incalculably greater than any reward that would have been their due had they known all the details of the rewards and punishments in the afterlife.
         For the same reason Tisha Be’av is called a moed after chatzos, because that was when the Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed completely, and the punishment of sinners became less intense because there was no longer the same source of inspiration which was afforded to the nation by the Beis Hamikdosh.
         However, we can understand this issue through another approach. The Vilna Gaon zt”l was once sitting and learning when a wagon driver knocked on the door begging for food and complaining of the difficulties of making a living. After the unfortunate man had been fed by his host, he sighed: “Life is treating me very harshly in this world, but at least in the World to Come, I will have it good”. The Vilna Gaon did not agree and responded that if life is so difficult in this world, all the more so do we have to work hard to attain eternal life through the merit of toiling in Torah and mitzvos.
         In a similar incident it is related that a Jew once came to the house of Rav Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov zt”l at night, cold and hungry. Looking around the house he noticed that it was warm and beautiful. If you are receiving your reward in this world, asked the guest, what will be left for you in the World to Come? The Maggid of Zlotchov replied: "I work day and night to merit eternal life, because there is no reward for mitzvos in this world, since nothing here can compare to the eternal world”.         
      The physical rewards promised by the Torah for keeping the mitzvos cannot be anything more than a drop in the ocean, mere “tips” or hints of the genuine eternal reward awaiting us in the afterlife.


And if you treat Me as happenstance (keri), and you do not wish to listen to Me” (26:21)

Many people believe in Hashem, but their faith is defective, because they do not truly believe that there is none other than Him, and that only He runs the world with divine individual providence with regard to each and every act. We are surrounded by alien non-Jewish or anti-Torah attitudes which attribute events to nature, politics, or pure chance. It takes a constant reinforcement of our faith for us to realize that Hashem is the Boss, and that even though His ways may be concealed, nothing takes place without His will.

In the tochocho the word keri is mentioned no less than seven times in close proximity, four times as a description of our behavior, and three times as a corresponding punishment by Hashem. Clearly this issue of attributing events to happenstance is something we should be working on.


And they will then confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, in their treachery which they committed against Me” (26:40)
    We would have thought that a confession of one's own iniquity and the iniquity of one’s fathers is a worthy thing. Why does it appear in the middle of a list of sins?

          Some baalei teshuva, or potential ones, are under the mistaken impression that they cannot rid themselves of the shackles of their background. They reason that since their parents are not believing or observant Jews, they cannot be better than them. This is totally incorrect. Avrohom Ovinu’s father served idols, but this did not prevent him from recognizing Hashem using his own intellect. We too do not need to be scientists to grasp that if the sun was just a tiny bit closer to the Earth, we would all be scorched to death, and if it was a tiny bit further removed from us, we would will all freeze to death, and countless other such examples pointing towards a Creator.

          A person cannot become a complete baal teshuva until he takes responsibility for his own actions. The possuk here calls a person to account for blaming his own way of life and outlook on the iniquities of his father.


I will not despise them nor will I reject them to annihilate them, thereby breaking My covenant with them, for I am Hashem their G-d” (26:44)
        The Meshech Chochmo on this possuk argues that Jewish history in golus consists of recurring cycles in which periods of destruction that come in the wake of spiritual low points are, in turn, followed by new renaissances. For example, the terrible persecutions of Tach Ve-tat (the Chmelnitzki Massacres of 1648-1649), were eventually followed by the works of such luminaries as Rabi Akiva Eger, the Chasam Sofer and the Nesivos.

          Although published posthumously in the inter-war period, Rav Meir Simcha zt”l (1843-1926) wrote the Meshech Chochmo during his youth. He not only famously predicted the destruction that would be wrought when people think that Berlin is Yerushalayim, but also the explosion of Torah that would take place in the decades following the Holocaust since “such has been the path followed by the Jewish nation from the time it started its wanderings [the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh]”: periods of destruction followed by periods of renewal.

          The lesson to be derived for us in Eretz Yisroel is to be forever on our guard not to fawn to our erring brethren or to learn from their ways. Such conduct on our part will only cause us to be despised by them, and can lead chas vesholom to the need for Hashem to show us that “I am Hashem their G-d”. By this stage of our history we should already know better than to have to wait for signs of divine wrath before remaining strong and preserving our undiluted Torah heritage.


Then will I remember My covenant with Yaakov, and also My covenant with Yitzchok, and also My covenant with Avrohom will I remember” (26:44)
      Why is the merit of Yaakov mentioned last? If the merit of Yaakov, the elite amongst our forefathers, is not sufficient to help the nation, how can the merit of the other two ovos help?

          This teaches us that if in the final generation we do not emulate the trait which characterized Yaakov, namely the study of Torah, and are not worthy of being redeemed in his merit, nor do we possess the trait which characterized Yitzchok, total self-sacrifice and dedication, we can at least be saved in the merit of Avrohom, by emulating his middo of chesed, both in physical matters, and- as we saw last week - in spiritual matters.

          This is the reason why we conclude the first blessing of the shmone esrei with mogen Avrohom: Hashem in his mercy is willing to protect us, even if we only possess this trait of Avrohom, chesed, and in the period leading up to the redemption our main prayers and merits revolve around chesed.