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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, February 19, 2015

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 4 Mishnah 16: Our Opinions Matter, Maybe

"Rabbi Yehudah said, 'Be careful in teaching, for a error in teaching amounts to intentional sin"'

Teaching others in any capacity is a tremendous responsibility. The person has not only has to know the material very well but has to understand who they are speaking to so they can give it over properly.

The Mishna here tells us the importance of this idea to the extent that if a person makes an error it is as if they made an intentional sin. The commentaries explain the severity of this matter in terms of making a mistake and paying a heavy price for it.

This means that a person who has the responsibility to answer questions of others (if they are capable) must know the subject thoroughly and then and only then should be they give a decision for the question at hand. If one is not sure about the answer (or must do more research) they should do so and not rely on the first thing that comes to their mind.

This is why it is crucial in Torah to constantly review what you have learned. The Chofetz Chaim in his introduction to the laws of Shabbos explains that if one is not constantly reviewing the laws of Shabbos, they will come to transgress them. The reason is because there are so many laws which are so complex, one cannot master them without proper review.

This is not only true for Torah but for anything else as well. If we are not constantly learning our trade and keeping up-to-date on the innovations of that industry, then we will not be successful in our endeavors! The repercussions of what we may tell someone or explain to the could be catastrophic!

If someone is a doctor and does not keep up with the many constant changes in medicine, how could they advise people what medicine to take or whether or not to have a certain operation. It is therefore imperative to constantly be aware of possible changes in one's field.

In Torah matters, if one give the wrong decision, we don't just chalk it up to a simple mistake or misinterpretation but rather we look at it as if they have done it willingly. The reason is that a person could permit something that is really forbidden or even forbid something that is permissible.

This is why a person has to have their own rabbi (mentor) that can properly guide them and give them the advice they need. If that person comes to something that they can't handle, they shouldn't try and go beyond what they are capable of but rather seek out guidance from others who can help them.

This not only shows humility but is the smart thing to do. Why give bad reasoning or make a mistake when that person could get advice from someone else?

A person has to know what their capabilities are and how to use them and know when to pass it on to someone else. The problem is that someone may ask something of us and we give our opinion without the proper knowledge. Why can't we just own up to the fact that we aren't sure and move on?

The reason is because our intellects get the better of us. It tells us that we have self worth and are intelligent people who has an opinion about a certain thing. We all have opinions but sometimes it is best not to express them even if someone presses us for them.

We learn a tremendous lesson here. If we teach others or give advice we have to make sure what we are telling them is truthful with great thought that was put into it. At the same time, if we are not qualified to give an opinion we shouldn't!