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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, April 10, 2014

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 3 Mishna 3: Jews are different from Others and that's a Good Thing!

"Rabbi Chananyah ben Teradyon said: 'If two sit together and no words of Torah are spoken between them, they are a session of scoffers, of whom it is said: "A good man does not sit in the company of scoffers."' But when two sit together and exchange words of Torah, the Shechinah abides between them, as it is said: "Then those who revered the L-rd spoke to each other, and the L-rd listened and heard, and in his presence a record was written of those who revere the L-rd and respect his name.'"Now, this verse refers to two persons; where do we know that even if one person engages in the study of the Torah, G-d determines his reward? It is said" "'Though he sits alone in thoughtful meditation, yet he receives (the reward)'"

The first part of the Mishna tells us that two people who sit together and do not speak words of Torah are as if they are part of a session of scoffers. When a person speaks against another he causes himself to be a scoffer. Even if they feel justified in what they are saying, they end up putting someone down so that they make themselves look better.

This is the society we live in. People speak against others for any number of reasons, some justified and some not. The more obnoxious the comment, the more popular the person seems to be. There is a more basic problem though.

When one speaks against someone else he tries to elevate himself in the eyes of others. This leads to egoism which in just about any form is a spiritual danger to himself and others around him. This is why the Mishna here explains that if two people are sitting around and not discussing Torah, they will discuss other people.

This will inevitably lead someone to think that they are better than someone else and begin to degrade them in front of others. The more "leisure" time we have to sit around and schmooze and not discuss words of Torah, the more they will become scoffers.

On the other hand, the reward is great if we are sitting with others learning Torah. Even if someone is alone and their thoughts are on spiritual perfection and working on perfecting character traits, how much more the merit will be!

The way we become great people is working on ourselves and fixing up bad character traits. That means that even if we are alone, we still think Torah thoughts and how we can better keep the mitzvos. We may think that being alone exempts us from learning Torah. Just the opposite! Even when alone, we strive and live the life that G-d wants us to, even if that may be difficult.

The Mishna here teaches us that if we don't strive for this we are characterized as being scoffers. This is certainly not a compliment in the Torah world even though this is an everyday occurrence in the secular world.

Living a Torah life means to change the way I think and what I say and how I act. It is a big responsibility but the Jewish people are different; have different laws, customs and ways of thinking. This is what gives us the ability to change and want spiritual perfection!