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, January 1, 2015

Ethics of our Fathers Chapter 4 Mishna 9: Don't Judge to Quickly

Rabbi Ishmael his son said: 'He who avoids entering into litigation (and seeks a friendly settlement) rids himself of hatred, robbery and perjury; he who proudly lays down decisions is foolish, wicked and arrogant'"

The first part of the Mishna tells us that it is a good thing to avoid litigation and seek a friendly settlement. Rabbenu Yonah explains that even though there is  Torah obligation to have judges (Deuteronomy 16:18) and that we should seek out justice (Deuteronomy 16:20) and have our cases litigated properly, that is only in a case where there are no other judges.

This means that although there is the obligation to have judgement done, who says that I am the one to be a judge! The Mishna here tells us that it is better to avoid it so that you don't enter yourself into many doubts that could possibly come up. Not only that, it takes tremendous responsibility in judging the cases and only those qualified should partake in such an endeavor.

Even if someone was wronged by someone else, it is better to avoid litigation if at all possible. After sitting in a rabbinical court for 5 years, it is clear that this is the truth. The reason is that these cases take time and the longer it goes on for, the more upset and aggravated people get.

If at all possible it would be better to make some sort of compromise rather than enter this whole arena. If not it could lead to hatred, robbery and perjury. Why is this so?

One may hate the judges if they find him obligated in the case. By stealing this means that maybe the person obligated to pay was in fact not guilty and therefore would be exempt in this case. A person could also be obligated to swear when he doesn't need to do so and will do it for nothing!

The last part of the Mishna explains that a person has to be careful not to proudly lay down decisions is foolish, wicked and arrogant. The reason is that they hastily rule on a decision without considering all the facts or looking into it properly; this makes him a fool.

This person will be considered wicked because they show that they do not have any fear of heaven because they think they can judge and answer without properly looking into the case at hand! They will also be considered arrogant because here they are trying to show how quickly they can answer and how wise they are!

In reality this is a recipe for disaster because they will skew the law and will end up perverting justice which is just the opposite of what the Torah wants from us! They think they are doing the world a tremendous service when they doing just the opposite.

We learn from here the importance of choosing the right judges who have proper knowledge and fear of heaven. Even if someone has the requisite knowledge and "passed their exams" it does not qualify them as a judge. Without the component of fear of heaven and humility, they will make mistakes and cause havoc!

As we can see, the more knowledge one has, the greater their evil inclination. We should all use the gifts that G-d has given us for the right things and keep proper perspective of who we are!