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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, July 18, 2013

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 1: Mishnah 6: Acquiring Good Friends and Judging People Favorably

"Yohusha ben Perachyah and Nittal of Arbel received the oral tradition from the preceding. Yehoshua ben Perachyah said, 'Provide yourself with a teacher, get yourself a companion and judge all men favorably"

The first part of the Mishna tells us that it is important for one to have a teacher. Rabbenu Yona of Girondi tells us that even if that person knows as much as you do, you should make him a rav for you because a person will remember more that which he learned from his rav than what he would have learned on his own. Also, this person may understand this subject matter better than you and even if you are equal in knowledge, you will have gained.

In order for a person to trust someone and have them be their rav, they have to be like an angel to them. Not just in the knowledge that they have, but  also in the way they act and interact with others.  Even if a person has to pay money for this, it will well be worth it because this is a person that one can learn and grow from.

The next part of the Mishna tells us that we should acquire a good friend. There are three reasons for this Rabbenu Yonah tells us. One is that a person learns more Torah from his friend than his rav. This means that although his rav will have significant influence over the student, the majority of the time, this student will be learning with a friend and gaining from the friend's knowledge as well.

The second thing he learns from his friend is through the performance of mitzvos. If he starts to stray a bit from the Torah, his friend will help him and sometimes rebuke him and keep on the straight and narrow path.

The third thing is that a good friend will give good advice and help him as much as possible. This friendship will create a strong bond that will continue for a long time. Good friends are hard to come by and even if we have to pay for that, it is money well spent!

The last part of the Mishna tells us that we should judge all men favorably. This is speaking about a person who sometimes transgresses and sometimes does good things. If this person does something that could be judged either to the side of transgression, we should judge him favorably even if looks clearly like a transgression.

On the other hand, if a person is a habitual transgressor of Torah and doesn't care about mitzvos, then there is no obligation to judge them favorably because the indication of their actions is enough to prove what they did.

This in general is a very big test for us because when we hear that someone has done something and it is all over the press and internet, it is very hard to undue the damage that is done. Even in such cases we have to judge a person (who sometimes transgresses and sometimes does mitzvos) favorably.
The motto of innocent until proven guilty definitely does apply.

In the days after the nine days, we should work hard not only to want to change, but to see the actions of others in a favorable light.