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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 27, 2014

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 3 Mishna 1 Where did we come from and where are we going?

"Akavyah ben Mahalalel said: 'Reflect on three things and you will not come into the grip of sin: know where you came from, where you are going, and before whom you are destined to give a strict account. Where you came from - a malodorous drop; where you are going to a place of dust, worms and moths; and before who you are destined to give a strict account before the supreme King of kings, the Holy One blessed is he'"

The beginning of the Mishna tells us that if we look at these three things we will not come to sin. The first thing is to look at how we come into this world. This act that has the potential to create human life is something that should make us humble and keep us away from egotism. With such humble beginnings, could we ever think that we are so great? This thought will stop us in our tracks when we want to think that!

The next step is to think of where we will end up: the grave. We cannot possibly think that this world is the ultimate since at the end of the day every person will die. This idea will keep us on the straight and narrow path in this world because one will realize that when we try and acquire the frivolities of this world, we will reason that our time here is limited and we will make the best of it by trying to do mitzvos and keep G-d's Torah.

The other side would say since time is so short, we must eat, drink and be merry lest tomorrow I end up in the grave. This is a big mistake because even if we live life to enjoy and have fun, then what? Has this given us meaning or is it a way to dull our senses of what our true responsibility here is ie Torah and mitzvos?

The last part of Mishna tells us that if we realize who we will have to give an accounting to at the end of our lives, we will live our lives to the best of our ability. This means that while in this world, we need to maximize our time to reach our spiritual potential. After all, if we are given this great gift of life we have to sustain our spiritual soul with spirituality and not get caught up in the physical world!

This is what the Zohar means that after a person dies they see two movies. The first movie is what the person did in their life and the second one is what potential they had and didn't reach it. This should terrify us because we will see everything that we did, every thought... and the embarrassment of it all.

This many commentaries is an aspect of gehinom (hell) that a person goes through. The embarrassment alone is enough to kill a person. This knowledge of the accounting we will have to give should put the fear of G-d into us all. The problem is since that we don't witness this now or see it, gives a person the ability to not take it seriously.

There have been many stories though of people who have had near death experiences and came back to this world all had the same story. They saw their entire life flash before them and were drawn to a great light. This certainly corroborates what the Zohar is telling us.

Each one of these things alone should be enough to give us the ability to continually strive and grow spiritually. The problem is by just thinking of one of them, may not be enough to wake us up from our doldrums so to speak. Hopefully if we think of all three, this will lead us to where we need to go!