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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 20, 2014

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 2 Mishna 17: Serving G-d to the Best of our Ability

"Rabbi Yosi said, 'Let your friends property be as precious to you as your own; give yourself  to the study of Torah, for it does not come to you by inheritance; and let all your deeds be done in the name of heaven'"

The first part of the Mishna explains that we have to be careful with someone else's property. This seems pretty obvious from the outset but the Mishna here teaches us a valuable lesson. If we look at our friends property as something very precious even like our own property, then we will be much more careful not to cause them damage.

Wouldn't we be careful with our own property and how we treat our personal possessions? So too we should be careful with the property of our friends. With that type of mentality, we will not come to cause damage to someone else's property.

The next part of the Mishna explains the importance of Torah learning. Even though we understand it to be the very life of the Jewish people, nonetheless each person has the ability to acquire their own knowledge of it regardless of their pedigree.

Even if a person's father was a rabbi and his father was a rabbi, does not mean that this person will be a rabbi. The reason is precisely as the Mishna explains: the Torah is not an inheritance. Each person has the ability to acquire Torah themselves regardless of the lineage of their family. There are no guarantees in life regardless of where we may have come from.

We have to carve out our own lives and reach our own personal spiritual goals. This is why the Torah is not considered an inheritance because each of us has our own unique path in life. This teaches that even if a person did not have religious parents does not mean they cannot go in the footsteps of their ancestors.

The last part of the Mishna tells us that everything we do should be for the sake of heaven. If we are specifically speaking about spiritual endeavors, keeping Torah and doing mitzvos this would easily be understood. After all, we make blessings praising G-d, keep Shabbos and the holidays. If we are not doing it for the sake of heaven, then why bother?

We could say that maybe we do the mitzvos because we don't want to be punished for not keeping them. At the same time, fear of punishment will not keep someone on the straight and narrow path. That doesn't bode well for being able to pass Judaism down to the next generation.

If the last part of the Mishna is talking about our physical lives, then this is a novelty. The reason is that whatever I do whether eating or drinking, it should be done for the sake of heaven. What does this mean?

A person is not allowed to be a glutton or drink a lot. The purpose of food is to give us strength so we can continue to serve G-d properly, not just to satisfy our appetites. We can even take the most mundane things in the physical world and sanctify G-d's name.

For example, we could eat an apple, say a clear blessings and accomplish two things. One is that we are not allowed to eat something without making a blessing and we praise G-d for what He has given us. At the same time, we satisfy our hunger by giving our body nutrients to be able to continue to function properly and serve G-d better!