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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, June 12, 2014

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 3 Mishna 11: Torah is not another academic subject!

"Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa says: 'Anyone whose fear of sin takes priority over his wisdom, his wisdom will endure; but anyone whose wisdom takes priority over his fear of sin, his wisdom will not endure.'"

The first part of the Mishna explains that when one's fear of sin takes priority over his wisdom  his wisdom will endure. Why should that be? The reason is because when one concentrates in staying away from bad influences and things that will cause them to transgress, he becomes a greater person spiritually.

When a person learns the goal is to envelop the ideas and make it part of them. As a person grows in spirituality and constantly stays away from negative influences he will perform mitzvos as he has properly learned how to keep them. A person does not have to drive themselves crazy and constantly think that maybe they will transgress...but a person has to know his true inner self.

A person knows where their strengths are and what they need to work on and stay away from. This would seem to be a natural thing but nonetheless the yetzer hara (evil inclination) constantly works against a person to try and cause them to transgress. We have to always be on guard and use whatever resources we have not to fall in the yetzer hara's hands.

If wisdom, though takes priority over his fear of sin, his wisdom will not endure. The reason is that one is learning Torah but not actualizing it. This means that although they feel that learning Torah is important, they are learning it like another subject that seemingly has no effect on their life.

Torah is not like any other academic subject. Its teachings are eternal and have the ability to transform a person. As we say when we return the Torah to the ark, "Etz chaim hi lmachzikim bah" (the Torah is a tree of life to those that grasp it), we understand that the Torah strengthens us more than we strengthen it. The word "lmachzikim" is in the causative form which means that the Torah is giving us strength!

Although we need to put our best effort forward in learning Torah, the reality is that the Torah is really empowering me because I tune in to its precious timely message. Learning for learning's sake is good, but the messages the Torah tells us are supposed to change us and make it part of our reality. If we don't do that, we degrade the Torah and treat it G-d forbid like another academic subject!