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.
Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Prayer: What is Kevanah?

What is Kevanah? It is not just focus or concentration, which are the most popular translations of the word. It also means preparedness, or direction, as in the sense of the word, kiven, which means "to aim."

The need for Kevanah in prayer is obvious; what is more perplexing is the seeming interchangeability between having intention in your mind and intention in your heart.

Both of them are vital. Aside from the obvious intellectual efforts one must put into the effort of having intention in one's thoughts, it is also crucial to enlist one's emotional strengths, the intention of the heart in addressing one's Creator. Only by the fusion of these two aspects of man can one be considered to have truly paved to his Creator. Rav Chaim Shmelevitz explains that this is because intellectual knowledge of Whom we are addressing is by itself not enough to move us to action. Only by adding emotional involvement can we be moved to press ourselves into action on the commitments we make in prayer.

King Solomon teaches us this lesson Proverbs (24:30-32). He relates how even after having passed by the field of a lazy man, and having observed clearly the overrun growth and broken walls testifying to the owner's lack of care, still he was unmoved emotionally intil he focused his heart on what he saw. Only then did he feel in his heart the overwhelming destruction wrought by the field owners indifference. Only then could King Solomon say "I learned the lesson," well enough for it to effect a genuine change in his very self.

To further enhance this concept of kevanah we can note what HaRav Shlomo Wolbe writes in his Alei Shor II. he teaches us that by proximity to one's Creator is the one single powerful force that, by definition effects change in a person. Clearly, then, if a person has not changed during prayer he has not come close to his Creator. Emotional attention is vital to sucesss in prayer.

Kevana is something that we strive to have. We have to try to the best of our ability to keep our minds clear in prayer and focus on what we are doing. The idea is at that time, you are standing in front of the King and after 120 years, we will have to give an accounting of our actions. Imagine when G-d will "remind" us of our actions and thoughts when we were praying to Him!!