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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 29, 2013

Ethics of Our Fathers: Chapter 1 Mishna 1: Jewish Continuity

The first Mishna in Pirke Avos says, "Moshe received the Torah at Sinai and handed it down to Joshua, Joshua to the elders, the elders to the prophets and the prophets handed it down to the men of the Great Assmebly. The latter said three things: Be patient in the administration of justice, develop many students, and make a fence around the Torah.

The Mishna here established that G-d gave the Torah to Moshe, both the written Torah and the Oral tradition as well. Without an Oral tradition, the Torah is unfathomable. An example would be when the Torah tells us  that "You shall dwell in booths for a seven-day period, every native in Israel shall dwell in booths." (Leviticus 23:42)

What do the booths look like? What are their dimensions? How many walls do they have? Without an Oral tradition we would not know the answers to these questions. Not only that, everyone would come up with their own ideas of what they thought it meant! If everyone did what they wanted, their would be no continuity into tradition and everyone would pass something different down to their children!

After the Mishna gives the genealogy of how the Torah was transferred throughout the generations, the Mishna tells us that we should be patient in administrating justice. This means that when one comes with a question to a rabbinical authority, that rav should answer automatically but think carefully about the question before answering. Otherwise, without carefully analyzing the question, it would be very easy to make a mistake.

The Mishna is also careful to mention justice more than anything else here because it is essence of knowing G-d.  None other than the great prophet Jeremiah tells us "For only with this may one glorify himslef - contemplating and knowing Me, for I am Hashem who does kindness, justice and righteousness in theland, for in these is My desire the word of Hashem" (Jeremiah 9:23)

How will a person come to know Hashem? When a person learns the laws of damages and understands administration of justice because this is what Hashem does. The world is based on judgement  and when we understand better these laws, we see G-d's greatness in running the world.

The Mishna also teaches us that we should have many students. Many students means that we should teach those who want to learn and grow. The student should be modest, honest and have fear of heaven. Having many students that will listen and soak up what the rebbe teaches is great for them but it also  makes the rebbe sharper through their questions..

When a rebbe has proper students, it inspires him to reach higher levels to help the students reach their unlimited potential so it a win-win situation for both!

The last thing the Mishna mentions is that a person should make a fence around the Torah. It is a great thing to make a fence around the Torah so a person will not come to make a mistake. Making a fence around the Torah gives a person a higher awareness of what his purpose is in this world and helps them reach higher spiritual goals.

Since they are more careful with what they do now and in the future, they will be more careful with their actions and have a higher level of fear of heaven!