Blog Archive

About Me

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.
View my complete profile


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, July 24, 2014

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 3 Mishna 17: Take life Seriously and no when to keep your mouth shut!

"Rabbi Akiva said: 'Jesting and light-headedness lead a man on to lewdness. the Mesorah (the tradition as to the correct text of the Scripture) is a fence to the Torah (and preserves integrity); tithes form a fence to wealth; vows are a fence (a help) to self-restraint; a fence to wisdom is silence.'"

The beginning of the Mishna teaches us the importance of why a person should not be light-headed. The reason is that one should take life seriously and have meaningful days. If we concentrate on just having fun and doing things for pleasure, we miss out on what is truly important.

This idle time when not spent on Torah can cause us to lose focus of what is truly important and lead to things that are detrimental to our spiritual growth. Is life only about having fun, i.e. eat, drink and be merry lest tomorrow I die?

The next part of the Mishna explains the importance as to the correct text of the Scripture. The reason is that the rabbis teach us how to interpret the text so we know how to observe the mitzvos. There are numerous examples that illustrate this point.

The main idea is that it gives strength to the Torah by helping us to understand how to keep it. If we did not learn out these inferences from the verses, we wouldn't know how to observe many of the commandments!

The next part of the Mishna explains that if a person gives tzedakah, it will help form a fence to wealth. This means that by giving charity it can protect the money we have. Is this really true? After all, if we give money away every month, how will we replenish what we have lost?

The answer is that the more generous we are, the more G-d will make sure that our livelihood will be taken care of. This does not mean a person cannot have setbacks or fall on hard times but the reality is that no one has ever lost out by helping others.

Even if one cannot give a lot, we have to train ourselves to put our hands in our pockets and give. When we learn this, G-d will look favorably upon us and want to continue helping us and giving what we need.

Vows help us separate from things; even those things that are permitted to us! When we deny ourselves certain pleasures, we are showing to G-d what is truly important and that is not this world! This helps a person curb one's appetite for for the desires of this world.

G-d created the world for us to enjoy and get benefit from. He gave us directions on how to do that. This is called the Torah which he gave to Moshe on Mount Sinai to pass down to the Jewish people! Even though the world is ours to enjoy, we are not allowed to indulge more than we need to.

This world is just a corridor to the world to come. Therefore we have to prepare ourselves here to reap the benefits of the next world. The way we do that is through the observation of Torah and mitvzos. If we get distracted and get caught up in this world, then we have defeated the purpose for which we have been created.

How does silence lead to wisdom? Isn't wisdom acquired through talking and hashing things out to get to the truth? This means that one can be wise in knowledge and also through character development. We can learn not to talk when our friend is speaking. This will lead us to other good character traits as well. This is not being silent but realizing when a person should not speak.

Wisdom is gained when we don't speak in front of someone greater than us. We learn more when we think things through and don't answer the first idea that comes to our mind. We become great people when we seek advice from others that can help us instead of relying on our own opinion.

Silence here means when the right time to speak up is and when to nullify ourselves to others greater than us. This is certainly not an easy thing to do but we reap tremendous benefits when we do!