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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, March 6, 2014

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 2 Mishna 19: Be Careful of the Influence of the Heretic

"Rabbi Elazar said, 'Be eager to study the Torah; know what to answer a heretic; know before whom you toil, who your Employer is, who will pay you the reward of your labor'"

The first part of the Mishna tells us that we should be eager to study Torah. The Tiferes Yisrael explains that there are three things that a person needs to do to be successful in learning Torah: 1) consistency and constant learning; 2) in depth learning; and 3) making sure one is not distracted while learning.

The Tiferet Ysirael explains that the learning has to be consistent, meaning that one should learn as much as possible at fixed times and constantly review what they have learned. Review is important because even though a person wants to cover ground, it is important to constantly go over what they have learned so the understanding will be that much clearer and one will not forget it.

The second thing a person needs to do to be successful in learning is to learn in depth. When one delves into their learning uncovering layer after layer of what the text is talking about, they will have a better understanding and clarity of the material at hand. One will also understand better the finer aspects of the particular subject at hand and master it.

The third thing a person needs to be successful in their learning is to have clarity of thought. This means one should not bring in their everyday worries and thoughts when they begin to learn. This will only distract a person and not allow them to concentrate. Although this is easier said than done, nonetheless, this is a prerequisite to successful study.

The next part of the Mishna tells us that we have to know what to answer a heretic. Rabbenu Yonah explains that if we don't learn properly and have clarity in our learning, then how are we to answer the heretics of our generation? The reason this is so important is because if we don't answer them, they will have a negative influence over others causing them to stray away from Torah.

Others ask why should we delve into the heretical thoughts of others, won't that effect us negatively? In reality, we need to answer up our own heretical thoughts. Why don't we act like the Torah tells us or how have we fallen into the trap of the yetzer hara (evil inclination). It doesn't mean I should read heretical books so that I can better know "their material" so I can answer them.

The leads to the last part of the Mishna that a person should be careful and know who will repay the labor of your work in this world, ie G-d Himself. This means that I have to be careful in my interactions with the heretic, lest he have a negative influence on me! Therefore, we should keep in mind that G-d is the one who truly knows our thoughts and what we do.

Even if we have the greatest intentions, we could be damaged spiritually. After all, isn't it a mitzvah to try and convince our erring brethren that they are going down the wrong path? As long as they will not hate Torah more by this discussion then it is praiseworthy but we must always be on guard against the negative influence they may have on us!