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.
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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, September 4, 2014

Parshas Ki Tetze: Erasing the beliefs of Amalek

"Remember what Amalek did to you by the way when you came out of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 23:17)

 The Torah at the end of the parsha tells us that we have to remember what Amalek did to us. This is of such importance that on the shabbos before Purim we read these three verses as a Torah obligation! What is so significant that we must remember what Amalek did to us?

If we go back in history, we see that the Jewish people were on the biggest roll of their lives. They saw the miracles that occurred in Egypt with their decimation; they witnessed the sea split and the Egyptians die and ate the manna that was given to them in the desert.

After seeing G-d face to face and receiving the Torah the people of Amalek strike. At first glance this makes no sense because who would want to start up with the Jewish people at this time?

Since the people of Amalek didn't believe in the supernatural or of miracles, they didn't think twice about attacking the Jewish people. How could they if at this time, the Jewish people could have annihilated them at the level they were at?

There is a parable given to explain this. It is as if one person enters a very very hot bath. Even if he goes in, he will get severely burned but at the same time, he will cool it off a little bit for the next person. The next person will do the same thing for the person after him until the water is warm enough to go in.

The people of Amalek understood what they were facing. They attempted to cool off the Jewish people, even if it meant sacrificing many of their own people. The danger of Amalek is that they spread doubt into the world; doubt of an existing G-d who runs the world.

Unfortunately that has continued throughout history where there are many who believe that G-d not only doesn't have control over his creation but in fact does not exist. The Torah tells us explicitly that we must work to the best of our ability to counteract this.

We do this by keeping the Torah and its mitzvos and bringing light to the world. Even though G-ds ways are hidden in this world, we have to publicize and make known to the world of His existence.

Just over the last few months with all the rocket attacks on Israel, G-d's presence can surely be seen. Of all the missiles sent in from Gaza, 80% hit open areas where 10% were knocked down by the Patriot missiles. That means that roughly 10% of all rocket fire hit something in Israel and caused damage.

These are missiles that are very accurate. Very hard to say statistically that 80% will hit open areas even if you are shooting from 5 miles away. G-d is here running the show, we just have to be able to see His hand in action

Even this one small thing gives us strength and answers the "doubts" of all the Amalekites in the world today. This brings G-d's rule to the world which eliminates the heretical thoughts of Amalek and the like.

Shabbat Shalom

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 3 Mishna 21: Without a proper understanding of Torah we lack everything!

"Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah said, 'When there is no Torah there is no proper conduct, when there is no proper conduct there is no Torah. When there is no wisdom there is no reverence; when there is no reverence there is no wisdom. When there is no knowledge there is no understanding; when there is no understanding there is no knowledge.When there is no bread there is no Torah; when there is no Torah there is no bread."

The first part of the Mishna explains that one must learn Torah to perfect one's character traits. The reason is because the Torah speaks at great length about character traits one must emulate to reach their spiritual potential.

The book of Genesis tells story after story about our forefathers and the great character traits they possessed. The Torah throughout the book of Numbers explains some of the failures of the Jewish people to inject in the future generations the importance of adherence to G-d's laws!

If we don't work on our character development, how can we learn Torah? This means that these two things go hand in hand. IF we see a Torah observant Jew steal or do other things that are in direct violation of the Torah, what does that say about his Torah learning?

We could say that a person is human and makes mistakes and will grow from them. That is true but at the same time, we see that his learning is not up to par and that individual does not actualize what the Torah wants from him!

The next part of the Mishna explains that without wisdom there is no reverence and vice-versa. When one learns and acquires wisdom, we realize how much we don't know which should humble us. The more we learn, the more we see how small we really are in the context of the world at large.

At the same time, if one has wisdom but does not incorporate reverence with that, an individual is then doing mental gymnastics. This means that the learning really has no relevance to their lives and they don't put it into action.

Learning is about doing and embellishing it. It is not like another academic subject, it is our life! Our goal is to incorporate these ideas in our lives and pass our priceless heritage onto our children.

The next part of the Mishna explains how much we have to concentrate on our learning to be able to understand it. We cannot just give a superficial overview of what the Torah tells us but we have to try and understand its depths to the best of our ability.

If we don't, then our learning will only become confusing and won't have the impact that it should. This is why it is important to have good teachers that can explain these things to us so we can explore the intricacies of Torah!

The last part of the Mishna tells us that when there is no bread there is no Torah and without Torah there is no bread. If we don't have money or a livelihood, how can we learn Torah? We have to make our best effort to put food on the table.

At the same time, we have to realize that even if we have ample livelihood, what is it worth without Torah? Torah is the essence of our lives; livelihood is just a means to be able to survive in this world but it is not the essence of who we are. We often forget this!