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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, January 29, 2015

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 4 Mishna 13: Take Responsibility for your Life

"Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov said: he who performs one mitzvah gains for himself one advocate; he who commits one transgression acquires for himself one accuser. Repentance and good deeds are as a shield against punishment"

Every deed whether good or bad is recorded. Just like a video camera films things to be watched and preserved, so too our actions are taped from above. The Mishna explains that with each action, a person acquires an advocate.

This advocate the commentaries tell us is an angel. This angel will come to testify on that person's behalf when the person dies and gets judged by G-d. At the time of judgement G-d gathers all the angels created from the actions of that person where they will testify to what the person did at that time.

G-d will then look at all these angels and after evaluating all the information will judge that person and decide where that soul will go. He will decide how the action was performed, where the person was holding at the time and look at other factors before determining the soul's fate.

This concept would be difficult to understand if not for the technological advances that have occurred over time. Even if we do understand this idea on an intellectual level, practically speaking it is very difficult to fathom.

We live in a world where G-d's presence is hidden and we see "contradictions" where the righteous suffer and evil people seem to have it easy. Although this is an age-old question, nonetheless we have to try and live our lives with this idea in the forefront of our minds.

If in fact our actions are going to judged and recorded, shouldn't we be more careful of what we say and how we act? How could we even think of not doing what G-d wants from us if we know that this awesome judgement will take place in the future.

Although this may be true, since we don't see it with our own eyes or we haven't met people who have been in that world and come back, it becomes in essence mental gymnastics. The Mishna here tells us that we have to take what we do seriously because there are repercussions for our actions.

Many think that even if G-d exists, why would He waste His time with mankind if we are not even close to His level? Therefore people make the mistake and think that their actions don't matter.

The Rambam in the laws of repentance tells us that we have to look at the world as if it is teetering on a scale with its potential destruction based on the next action that person takes. If they make the right decision and do something good, then the scale slides to the side of good; if that action is bad, then the scale slides to the other side.

This means that everything is really in our hands and we have the ability to change the world just by what we do. We have to try to the best of our ability to continue to do G-d's will, keeping the world in a good equilibrium.

The end of the Mishna says that even if we deserve punishment, we can push it off through our good deeds and repentance. These two things can act as a shield against our bad actions. The more good things we do and if we sincerely repent for our wrong doings, they protect us from Divine wrath.

With that being said, the Jew's responsibility to the world is nothing short of awe-inspiring. We need to take stock of our lives on a daily basis constantly looking at our actions to see if we are still going on the right path.

There is an idea to take an accounting of one's actions during the day (cheshbon hanefesh) before we go to sleep which helps us understand if we accomplished good things or bad things during that particular day. This will give us food for thought about what we want to change in our lives and then go out and try and make that happen.

Commitment comes with a price and we have to be prepared to do whatever it takes to make G-d proud of us and continue to guide us and protect us!!