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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, June 20, 2013

Parshas Balak: Couldn't we have done better than Bilaam?

"He sent messengers to Bilaam, son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the members of his people, to summon him, saying 'Behold a people sits opposite me" (Bamidbar 22:5)

Rashi: "Why did G-d allow His Presence to descend on the evil Bilaam? In order that the nations of the world would not have an excuse by saying 'Were we to have had prophets we would have repented', G-d established prophets for them yet they breached the fences of the world, for originally, they were restrained regarding sexual immorality but this one, Bilaam advised them to abandon themselves to licentiousness."

Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita in Ta'am Da'as says that this would not have answered the non-Jews claim because they would tell you that this prophet was immoral and corrupt and for sure he would not have had the ability to influence others to repent! Rather, if they had a true prophet like the prophets of the Jewish people, they could have had the proper influence over their own people to go in the right and moral path.

One thing we see, Rav Sternbuch continues is that prophecy does not have the ability to change the nature of a person because of the influence of his evil inclination. If a person works hard to distance himself from the desires of his heart and subjugate his evil inclination, then he can raise himself to a high spiritual level and have a connection to G-d and His Torah.

G-d only rested his Presence on those prophets who demonstrated their ability to overcome their desires and devote themselves fully to the service of G-d. This is what G-d tells the non-Jewish nations. In reality their nature is corrupt and even if He would place His Presence on them it would not help.

The reason is because someone like Bilaam who understood G-d's wisdom at a very high level, was unwilling to work on controlling his desires and morals and therefore stayed on a very low level. This boggles the mind because as great as his understanding of heavenly things was, his corrupt nature did not allow this positive influence to help him.

This in turn lead him to be more corrupt and have a negative influence on his people. This we also find when G-d went to all the nations to ask them if they were interested in accepting the Torah which they ultimately rejected. The Jewish people accepted the Torah and were able to internalize its timeless message because they were prepared to give their lives for spirituality and distance themselves from the emptiness of the desires of this world!

This in fact is the essence of the work a person has to do in this world. We have to strive and work hard on fixing our bad character traits and merit to be of the students of Avraham to have a good eye and be humble. These character traits will help us develop our closeness to G-d. If a person does not work on his desires, then he is subjugated and beholden to them all the days of his life!

Rav Chaim Vital asks why we don't find the essence of character development specifically mentioned in the Torah? He answers by saying that Torah itself is the great foundation which itself is built on character development so therefore since that is the case, the Torah does not have to mention it explicitly.

May we understand and take to heart what the "real world" is and use all of our strength, all of our days working on our character development to become the great people that we can be.

Shabbat Shalom