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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 12, 2015

Parshas Mishpatim: Don't Oppress the Convert!

"Do not oppress a stranger; you know the feelings of a stranger for you were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 23:9)

There are many verses in the Torah that warn us about the mistreatment of converts to Judaism. The reason the Torah tells us is because you were strangers in the land of Egypt. This means since you understand better than others what this feels like, do not do it to them.

We have to be more sensitive to their needs. We are not allowed to remind them of their past because of the negative feelings it may bring up; the same goes for baalei teshuvah (returnees to Judaism) as well.

Since these people have left their former religions, moved into a Jewish community and sacrificed friends and family along the way, don't they deserve our compassion and help? How could someone be so cruel and not understand this basic idea?

The problem is that when someone wants to convert to Judaism, the communities around the world are skeptical and want to make sure that they are converting for the right reason and are genuinely sincere. At the same time, when this has been proven, the Jewish community should do what they can to help.

The Torah doesn't teach us things that are obvious, there must be a deeper reason why this command is here. The answer is that it must be a lack of sensitivity on our part that the Torah has to tell us this.

People are human and make mistakes and say things they shouldn't and act in a way they shouldn't. At the same time, we need to be more cognizant of what we say especially when it comes to converts.

They deserve our respect for the hardships that they have gone through and our help when it is needed. We must not make the mistake and think that our skepticism of their sincerity is equivalent to making them feel bad or on guard when they don't need to be.

Skepticism is ok; treating them poorly is not. The Torah here wants us to know that even if we doubt them, it does not give us the right to abuse them in any way. We forget sometimes and get caught up in how religious we are and what we have to guard ourselves against that people have feelings and need to be treated properly.

If I had a dime for the people that contact me about issues they have in Jewish communities of things said or done, I would be a very wealthy person today. I remind them not to mix up Jews and Judaism. This is very important because we as Jews have the obligation to uphold the Torah to the highest standard and we sometimes fail.

This is not a problem of the Torah but rather human deficiency. The Torah is precise in every place telling us not to oppress converts. While this may be obvious, we sometimes don't internalize the message and make mistakes.

We have to remember that we were once strangers in a strange land. If we think in those terms and remember the compassion others had for us, we will act accordingly and have compassion for the convert to Judaism who has given up so much to connect to the Jewish people!

Shabbat Shalom