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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, January 30, 2014

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 2 Mishna 14: Help others, don't only look out for yourself

"He further said to them: Go and see which is the worst quality a man should shun. Rabbi Eliezer said, 'An evil eye (greed); Rabbi Yehoshua said, 'A bad friend (hatred); Rabbi Yosi said, 'A bad neighbor (discord); Rabbi Shimon said, 'One who borrows and does not repay. It is the same whether one borrows from man or from G-d as it is said: "The wicked borrows and repays not, but the righteous deal graciously and gives" Rabbi Eliezer said, 'An evil heart (selfishness). Said he to them: 'I prefer what Elazar ben Arach said to what you have said, for in his words yours are included'"

In order to explain this Mishna, we have to understand that in general the opposite of something good is something that we need to stay away from. On the other hand, there are a number of good character traits that the opposite of them is not bad. For example, the character trait of chasidus (benevolence).

If someone does not want to do acts of loving kindness for another they are not called evil but rather they are not considered generous.Still that leads us to the first statement of someone that has an evil eye. A person like that does not like to help others and although they don't steal they are not doing the right thing. A greedy person does things for his own benefit many times at the expense of others.

This leads one to be a bad neighbor and a bad friend. When one thinks of himself or what potentially they can get from someone else, they inevitably ruin the relationship between them. This self-centered person is only worried about himself and others will see that and not want to be friends with them.

The next part of the Mishna explains the terrible trait of one who borrows money and does not repay. Regardless if they can't pay and have a valid excuse, nonetheless they still owe the money and must repay it. This is a terrible thing because the person who lent you money did a great service and chesed and by not paying back the loan, the person shows his indifference for what his friend has done for him.

What we learn from here is how terrible a person can be by only looking out for themselves. They think that the world was created for them alone and not for others. They use and abuse others for the sake of their own gain. Even if this is not intentional, it gives a person a bad reputation that is hard to correct.

This is why that Judaism stresses the importance of doing acts of kindness and giving charity. When we give of ourselves we go against our evil inclination which helps us to envelop other good character traits. When we only look out for ourselves others will not be gracious and want to help us.