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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 27, 2014

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 2 Mishna 18: Living in the Past is Detrimental to your Health

"Rabbi Shimon said, 'Be careful in reading the Shema and the Shemoneh Esreh; when you pray, do not regard your prayer as a perfunctory act, but as a plea for mercy and 
grace before G-d, as it is said: '"For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in kindness, and relenting of evil." Do not be wicked in your own esteem (lest you set yourself a low standard of conduct).

The first part of the Mishna is telling us to be careful that we should say the Shema and the Shemoneh Esreh in its proper time. The reasons we should be more careful about these prayers is because each one has a component of taking on the yoke of heaven.

When we say the Shema we are declaring that there is one G-d who runs the universe and keeps the world functioning on a daily basis. After that we declare that we will take on the yoke of mitzvos and do what G-d has commanded us.

Through the Shemoneh Esreh we also take on the yoke the heaven. We declare that G-d takes care of our needs physically and spiritually and continually runs the world. At the same time, He is the G-d of our forefathers who brought His name to the forefront in a polytheistic world.

The next part of the Mishna tells us that when we do pray, we shouldn't do it as a perfunctory act but as a plea for mercy and grace before G-d. Since G-d provides for the sustenance and function of the world, how could we pray to G-d by giving Him lip service without proper intention of what we say?

Prayer is a very difficult thing since we don't always see direct results of our prayers. After all, we pray for so many things that we desire and think are good for us but G-d may seemingly not answer our call to Him.

Prayer is one of the things that always needs strengthening. It takes preparation and hard work to pray three times a time saying the same things over and over. Spontaneous prayer is always accepted but when we delve deeper into what the prayers represent and mean, we see the greatness of the rabbis who developed them.

The last part of the Mishna tells us that we should not look evil in our eyes. The commentaries explain that if we do this and have a low self esteem, then we will not be able to do proper teshuvah (repentance). The reason is because we tell ourselves that we are no good, we make mistakes and are not worthy of anything.

I have heard my rebbe, Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita say many times that the yetzer hara is very strong in that it convinces a person that they are not worthy of anything so why work on character development, I will just fail anyway! We have to look at each day anew and not worry about the past because if you live in the past you have no future.

This means that regardless what the person has done the day before, we have to realize that we make mistakes but we also have to grow from them and change. If we just give up hope, then we will never change and reach our true potential.