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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.
Friday, August 9, 2013

Parshas Shoftim: Reaching Potential and not Resting on our Laurels

"And you shall not erect for yourselves a pillar, which Hashem your G-d hates" (Deuteronomy 16:22) 

Rashi "Even though you are beloved in the days of your fathers, now you are hated after you have performed idol worship"

Rav Moshe Feinstein in Derash Moshe asks what is so wrong here, after all one has erected an altar and put sacrifices on it, why should it be forbidden if it was ok before? The answer Rav Moshe tells us is that a person has to be continually growing in his service to G-d. That means they have to keep doing the mitzvos throughout their lives to the best of their ability.

Even after 70 years and a person is already considered a tzaddik (righteous person) and have done numerous mitzvos throughout their lives, one must continue and grow spiritually. Even if G-d forbid they wouldn't do any mitzvos or learn Torah at the end of their lives, they would still have plenty of mitzvos for them to reap the benefits of them in the world to come.

This is a grave mistake. We see from the prophet Yechezkel (33:17) that this is not true. The true eved Hashem (servant of G-d) retains the merit of their mitzvos only if they learned Torah and continued to do mitzvos their entire life up until the time that they die. Therefore, someone who says that they have performed many mitzvos throughout their lives and now can rest on their laurels so to speak for what they have done in the past, is making a terrible mistake.

This is why the altar that is made of stone is forbidden and doesn't add on to a person's merits. Before the giving of the Torah, though, this person was considered beloved before G-d. After the giving of the Torah, even if one kept mitzvos just because he was "going beyond the letter of the law" not because one had an obligation to do is considered hated by G-d!

The reason is because even doing mitzvos and going beyond the letter of the law is still a commandment from G-d himself so if they are doing the mitzvos for the wrong reason, it can count against a person as well.

It reminds me of the story of when I was giving a class about people reaching their true spiritual potential. Someone told me to cut him some slack and not give so much musar (ethical discourse) because he himself was holding "better" than 95% of world Jewry. He kept shabbos, G-d's eyes this person claimed he was doing just fine.

I answered that even if what he just said is true, that doesn't mean that his avodas hashem (service to G-d) ends. We strive our whole lives to be servants of G-d. We don't just stop when we think we have attained enough merit for the next world. We have to keep going and continue striving to reach that true potential. If we are happy where we are spiritually, then that is akin to spiritual death.

As we continue in the month of Elul and prepare for the upcoming high holidays, let us continue to grow and work on ourselves to be the people we can be!

Shabbat Shalom