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

Tapping into previous generation

By Rav Moshe Sternbuch

Educational advice

Have them take for you a perfectly red unblemished cow, upon which no yoke was laid (19:2)

A perfectly red unblemished cow is very difficult to come by, and can only be located after much effort. Clearly, obtaining tahara (purification) from tumas mes (the impurity of a dead body) was not meant to be an easy task. Similarly, anyone seeking to purify himself from his evil ways must realize that his goal can only be achieved after expending a lot of effort.

A cow, which had a yoke laid on it, was not qualified to serve as a poro adumo. (the red heifer) This teaches us that if the holy is intermingled with the secular this diminishes from the potency of the tahara, which is inherent in the holy component. From the outset all the objects and the actions surrounding the poro adumo had to be infused with complete kedusho.

If we want our children to grow up dedicated to serving Hashem and His Torah, we have to make a point of inculcating unadulterated Torah and yiras shomayim (fear of heaven) from the outset, without any secular components at all. That way our efforts to ensure that they acquire a love of Torah and mitzvos are likely to be crowned with success.

Why we wear yarmulkes

Any open vessel which has no seal fastened around it becomes unclean (19:15)

This possuk may be taken as a general instruction to "fasten" our openings. We must endeavor to maintain control over our mouths and thoughts, and make sure that we do not speak or even think things contrary to the Will of Hashem. In the absence of such control tumah will become embedded in our neshomos.

It is clear from the gemoro (Masseches Shabbos 156b) that the purpose of covering our heads is to increase yiras shomayim. Rav Shimon Sofer zt”l¸ the Rav of Krakow adds that head coverings on a Jewish boy or man teach him the lesson that he has to rein in his thoughts and control his imagination.

Interestingly, one of the first actions undertaken by the first generations of anti-religious maskilim, who rebelled against their religious upbringing, was to take off their yarmulkes. By doing so they demonstrated that their thoughts were no longer subjugated to any higher purpose, and certainly not to daas Torah and chazal.

Jewish mother

The congregation had no water (20:2) Rashi: From here we learn that all the forty years they had the well in Miriam’s merit.

The mon came down in the merit of Moshe Rabbeinu¸ and the anonei hakovod hovered above them in the merit of Aharon. Why did they require the merit of Miriam specifically for water, the most basic commodity of human existence?

The ideal Jewish mother is an akeres bayis, a housewife, the mainstay of the whole household, who is always next to her children, and raises them from the very first day. She lays the foundations for the continued existence of the Jewish home, be it in matters of tznius, kashrus, chesed¸ hospitality, and so on. It is within her power to maintain the purity of the home and to prevent foreign influences from infiltrating into it.

This is the lesson of Miriam’s well. The righteous women of each generation are the cornerstones of the nation, and they preserve the kedusha and tahara of their households. Miriam was the role model for Jewish women from her day to our own times, and the water which the whole nation enjoyed in her merit symbolized the basic and essential role of the Jewish mother.

Significance of each individual

The Canaanite king of Arad… took from them a captive (21:1) Rashi: It was only a single maidservant.

They were obligated to wage war for the sake of saving even one maidservant from the danger of assimilation. Every individual is indispensable, because all the upper worlds derive their sustenance from the avoda of each and every one of us in this world, and we cannot imagine the importance and preciousness of each yiddishe neshomo. This should inspire us not only to improve our own avodas Hashem, but also to do more to draw even one person closer to his Maker. Anyone who succeeds in doing so is to be envied.

Wells of TOrah and Yiroh

A well dug by princes, carved out by nobles of the people (21:18)

Targum Yonoson writes: “the well which was dug by the forefathers Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov… was dug by the heads of the nation Moshe and Aharon”. In other words, the leadership and avodo of Moshe and Aharon was based on the avodo of our holy forefathers, and without their preparation and efforts, the Jewish nation would not have merited what they did in the generation of Moshe and Aharon.

We mentioned above that that is not easy for a person to purify himself from his evil ways. On the other hand, we must it that if we persevere we can easily reach extremely high levels, since the generations preceding us have already dug wells consisting of water filled with Torah and yiras shomayim from which we can benefit. All we have to do is to tap into those potential treasure troves by means of our own avodo.