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, July 12, 2012

Hashem takes care of the yeshivos

By Rav Moshe Sternbuch

Political success

Bolok the son of Zippor saw… Bolok the son of Zippor was king of Moav at that time (22:2-4)
Why does it not say straight away that Bolok was the king of Moav? He was not the king initially, but only became a monarch after he had started spreading propaganda about the danger posed by the Jews to his nation. Throughout history any anti-Jewish platform has been a sure recipe for political success. Similarly, today in Eretz Yisroel politicians vie with each other as to who can come up with the most venomous anti-chareidi policy.

Bilom’S Blessing

Whomever you bless is blessed and whomever you curse is cursed (22:6)
If Billom had the power to bless, why did Bolok not ask him to bless him for success in his attempts to wage war against the Jews, instead of asking him to take the circuitous path of cursing the nation so that they could not succeed?                       
The  urge of anti-Semites throughout history to witness the downfall and suffering of their (real or imagined) enemies was stronger than their concern for their own welfare. That was why Bolok preferred Bilom to curse the Jews rather than bless him.
        Alternatively, by natural standards, Moav had nothing to worry about, since they were situated in their own territory with a mighty army, as opposed to the Jews who were isolated in the wilderness, and Bolok’s only fear was from the Might of Hashem, who in His love for His nation would fight for them supernaturally. Hence, any blessings by Bilom for Bolok to succeed in his battles with the Jews would be totally futile, because Hashem was with them. Only by cursing them with his evil eye, and bringing out some defect in them, was there any chance that Bilom could succeed in his efforts for Hashem to take away His divine protection from His nation.

Avoiding blessings from the wicked

You shall not go with them! You shall not curse the people because they are blessed (22:12). Rashi: He said to Him, “If so, I will curse them in my place.” He replied to him, “You shall not curse the people.” He said, “If so, I will bless them.” He replied, “They do not need your blessing, ‘for they are blessed.’” As the saying goes, “We say to the wasp, ‘Neither your honey, nor your sting.’”
    Why would Bilom, who hated the Jews so much, want to bless them?
The so-called blessings of the wicked are no less detrimental to us than their manifest curses, and no good can come from them. Bilom’s request from Hashem was that all the blessings of the Jews should come from him, because that would effectively ruin them as much as an outright curse from him. Hashem responded that he had no permission to bless the Jews, because they were themselves the source of all blessings, and had no need for any of his.
   During the Second World War, Rav Moshe Schneider’s yeshiva suffered terrible financial straits, but even when there was no bread to feed the boys, Rav Schneider refused offers from mechalalei Shabbos to come to the yeshiva’s rescue, arguing that in order to ensure its continued success, the funds supporting the yeshiva had to come only from pure sources. In a similar vein, Rav Chaim Brisker zt”l , said that the Volozhiner Yeshiva eventually closed down, because the people responsible for collecting funds for it had not been particular about the character of the donors, and this had affected the kedusha of the Yeshiva.


What have I done to you that you have struck me these three times (22:28). Rashi: He hinted to him, “You seek to uproot a nation which celebrates three festivals in a year”?         

Why did Hashem praise the Jews specifically for this mitzvah?

When the Jews performed the mitzvah of aliyo loregel three times a year, leaving their homes exposed to thieves and plunderers in reliance on the divine promise that "no one shall covet your country", that was the ultimate demonstration of faith in Hashem. It is this superior quality of faith which has sustained us each and every generation, and continues to sustain us, whenever anyone seeks to harm or destroy us.

Hashem was rebuking Bilom for attempting to uproot a nation with such steadfast faith, and telling him that no curse by any mortal could have an effect on a nation which placed its faith in Hashem so fearlessly.

Eternal Torah

It is a people (am) that shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations (goyim) (23:9)

Rav Elchonon Wasserman zt”l hy“d was once in London collecting for his yeshiva.  During his speech in a shul he expounded that “goy” refers to a nation united by a common territory, like all the nations of the world, whereas “am” refers to a group of people with a common language, dress code or other customs, which, even though they do not have a common territory or state of their own, are still considered one nation.

Bilom was saying that the Jewish nation shall dwell alone, it does not need to be an “am”, because it differs from the rest of the world population in its religion and customs, and is therefore distinguished as a nation in its own right without having its own territory. Nor shall it be reckoned as a “goy”, because territory is not required in order to make it into a nation, and the reason we yearn to live in Eretz Yisroel is on account of its sanctity and the mitzvos which can only be observed there, but our national essence is not dependent on living there.

He continued to expand on this theme, even though his audience was becoming sparser by the minute, as the majority consisted of Zionists who walked out in protest. Rav Sternbuch recalls that by the time he had finished there was barely a minyan left. Rav Elchonon, who knew from experience about the likely response to his words of rebuke, and the consequent loss of donors, explained to his amazed questioners who remained behind that he felt it to be his duty to increase kvod shomayim (the Honor of Heaven) regardless of the consequences. Hashem has guaranteed the eternity of Torah and Torah learners, and He would surely find a way to support his yeshiva.
Here in Eretz Yisroel, not only our spiritual but our physical existence is dependent on the undisturbed functioning of the yeshivas and kolelim. Rav Sternbuch noted at a demonstration two weeks ago that as servants of Hashem, we have no authority to agree to any “compromises" regarding the issue of drafting yeshiva or kollel students, who make up the soldiers of Hashem’s army, and that their task at this time is to reinforce their Torah and yiroh.

the Segulo of Kerias Shma
And they were weeping at the entrance of the Ohel Moed (25:6)

The Targum Yonoson comments that the bnei Yisroel were saying Kriyas Shma. This teaches us about the great power of Kriyas Shma recited with devotion. At a time when the powers of tumoh represented by Bilom achieved some success in making inroads into the sanctity of the Jewish nation and lowering their superior level when the nosi of a tribe committed such a serious transgression, the nation decided to reinforce their kedusha by reciting Kriyas Shma.

When we recite Kriyas Shma properly in the mornings or evenings we inject holiness into all our limbs and destroy the mazikin (evil spirits), which have been created as a result of our sins. For this reason the gemoro (Masseches Berochos 12b) says that if it would not have been too much of a burden on the public, Chazal would have instituted the recital of parshas Bolok together with Kriyas Shma in order to remind us of the power of Kriyas Shma and the necessity of reciting it with the appropriate level of concentration. When we are meyached shmo properly the forces of kedusha are increased and the forces of tumo disappear on their own.