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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, February 6, 2014

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 2 Mishna 15: Repent every day and be careful how you treat Torah Scholars

"They each said three things. Rabbi Eliezer said: 'Let your friend's honor be as dear to you as your own; be not easily provoked to anger; repent one day before your death (every day, for you may die tomorrow). He further said: 'Warm yourself by the fire of the scholars,l but beware of their glowing coals (treat them respectfully), lest you burn yourself; for the bite of the scholars is as hurtful as that of a fox, their sting is as deadly as that of a scorpion, their hiss is like that of a serpent, and all their words are like coals of fire (and should be heeded).

The first part of the Mishna explains that we should honor our friend as much as we would honor ourselves. Why should a person do that, after all isn't this obvious? Interpersonal relationships are extremely important for how we relate to others. If we want others to treat us properly, then we have to treat them properly as well.

The problem is that sometimes we may think that others should honor us more or show us respect and we feel miffed if that is not the case. A person may say, "why should I help that person or be nice when they did....against me!" We have to be very careful not to let our egos overcome us. When we do that, we will have no rest and our interpersonal relationships will end in disaster.

The next part of the Mishna explains that we should be careful with the character trait of anger. This is something that is not easy to control but when it gets out of control it makes havoc on those around us. Even if someone does something that angers us, we have to be very careful how we handle it.

The Talmud tells us that when a person is angry even if the pits of hell were open underneath them, they wouldn't change and their anger would continue to burn. If we look at things that occur in our lives as signs from G-d and what he wants from us then in reality we shouldn't become angry. The reason is that these people are messengers causing us to be introspective of our actions.

The next part of the Mishna explains that one should repent one day before a person dies. The Talmud asks, is it possible to know the day before you die? The Talmud answers that one should repent today because a person may die tomorrow and since we don't know the day of our death, we should repent every day and live every day of our lives with repentance.

Although this is good advice, we still have difficulty admitting that we do things wrong. We justify our actions in many different ways often convincing ourselves that we have acted correctly. In reality if we take a hard look at what we do on a daily basis and evaluate ourselves honestly (without destroying our precious egos) then we can live every day of our lives in repentance.

The last part of the Mishna explains what our relationship with Torah scholars should be. We should draw ourselves close to them and learn as much as possible. At the same time, we need to have to distance from them. The reason is that when one gets too close, they may get burned. Why is that?

A person needs to be in awe of Torah scholars because of the knowledge that they possess. At the same time, a person should not act frivolously with them which could be dangerous for our well being. We could say that we disagree with them and think that we know thereby making fun and ridiculing. While we know that this is forbidden, the punishment for doing so against Torah scholars is much greater.

We should not look at them as our "friends" in the sense of how we deal with them. We need to show them proper respect and gain from their knowledge while at the same keeping our distance!