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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.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 1 Mishna 11: Be Careful what you Teach

Avtalyon said, 'Scholars, be careful with your words! You may incur the penalty of exile and be banished to a  place of evil waters (heretical teachings) and the disciples who follow you into exile are likely to drink of them and die (a spiritual death) with the result that the name of Heaven would be profaned'

A Torah scholar has to be careful of many things. One thing is that they have to be careful who they teach, meaning that the student has to be worthy to be taught. Not only that, but even if the Torah scholar has good students, he must be careful with his words that they are not misinterpreted which could lead to heretical ideas.

The question that may be asked is why the Torah scholar has to be so careful. After all, if the students misinterpret what is said, why is that the problem of the teacher? Everyone has free will and if the student makes a mistake then it is their own fault. The answer is that when a person teaches others, regardless of the level they are on, they have to give over information in the easiest way possible for it to be understood.

The reason for this is that something should not get misinterpreted by the students which can lead to heretical thoughts. It is said in the name of the Chasam Sofer that he would tell his students to be careful what they said in his name. Only if they clearly understood what he said were they able to say things in his name.

The Mishna continues by telling us that if a scholar is not careful with his words then they will incur the penalty of exile and be banished to a place of heretical teachings. Rav Ovadia Bartenura learns that this means that a scholar could potentially get banished to a place for having his teachings misinterpreted. Even though where the scholar lives now is not a place where heretics live, he could cause himself to get banished to a place where there are heretics.

This will lead to his students being corrupted by what they have "learned."  This will also cause them to sin and they will die spiritually and prematurely. This in turn will lead to a desecration of G-d's name because what will remain with these students is the heresy that they continue to spread. This will lead to their ideas not being accepted after all their hard work.

One thing we learn from here is that we have to be careful what we say and who we say it to. If we have the ability to influence others, then all the more so we must be careful. We have the opportunity to be ambassador's for the Torah and if we misrepresent it and do not uphold what it says, then we will make a desecration of G-d's name, G-d forbid.

We have to live our lives on a higher level and be consistent with its teachings. This will lead to living more enriching lives and sanctifying G-d's name.