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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 20, 2014

Parshas Shemini: Get the right advice from the right people

"A fire came forth from before Hashem and consumed them, and they died before Hashem." (Leviticus 10:2)

The rabbis teach us that there were many severe transgressions by Nadav and Avihu that caused their deaths. Some say it was because they brought incense and a strange fire; others say they entered the mishkan after drinking wine; others say because they had no children and were not interested in getting married while others say they gave over Torah law in front of their master, Moshe. If Nadav and Avihu were such great individuals, how could they have done such things?

They brought incense at the time of the celebration of the mishkan. Why is that so bad? This would seemingly be a good time for this. They made a mistake and overstepped their boundaries because even though it was a tremendously auspicious day, they were not allowed to do what they wanted without explicit permission from Hashem.

They drank some wine and performed the service and gave sacrifices. What was so bad about that? They thought they were on a higher level and claimed that an "insignificant" amount of wine would not damage them or cause them to make a mistake and not think clearly during the service in the mishkan.

They didn't marry because they did not want to give in to their desires and potentially sin from them. They brought the incense and a strange fire since they were doing for the sake of holiness there would be nothing wrong with it. They also gave over Torah laws in front of their master Moshe without wearing the special coat the kohen needed to wear. They wanted to show that they were closer to the level of angels.

Although many of these things can be explained, one thing we do know is that they tried to show that they were on a higher level than they actually were and they died because of it. The Torah states clearly that there are things we are allowed to do and things we are not allowed to do. When there is a doubt, we go to our rabbinical authorities and they tell us what the law is.

We  never take the law into our own hands even for the most noble of intentions. We have to know our limits and what we are capable of doing and not overstepping our boundaries. When we do, it could not only hazardous to our health but fatal!

The Torah here teaches that no matter what level a person is on, they cannot do things on their own. They have to have proper guidance and rabbinic authorities that they can turn to. Even if we think we are doing a mitzvah, it could be a tremendous danger; we should never act on our own accords; get advice from those who are worthy of giving it.

Shabbat Shalom