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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 5, 2015

Parshas Yisro: We don't get Merit for a Mitzvah done in this world

"Honor your father and mother so that your days will be lengthened upon the land that Hashem, your G-d gives you" (Exodus 20:12)

It is very rare that the Torah tells us the reward for actions that we do. After all, the Talmud tells us that we don't get the merit for doing a mitzvah in this world. This being true, what does the end of the verse mean that we will have our days extended upon the land by honoring our parents?

The Talmud discusses this point and shows the disagreement between the rabbis and Elisha ben Abuya otherwise known as "acher" (the other one). Elisha was a great rabbi part of the sanhedrin who left the Jewish path after encountering something he didn't understand or could make sense of.

He saw a child climbing up a ladder to do the mitzvah of shiluach ha'ken (sending out the mother bird and taking the eggs from her). As the child was coming down the ladder, he slipped and died.

Elisha did not understand how this could happen because the merit of doing the mitzvah of shilach ha'ken is that one will have his days lengthened and also he was performing the mitzvah of honoring his parents because his father was the one to tell him to do this.

With two mitzvos being done culminating in lengthening one's days, Elisha could not understand what happened here which led to his questioning of G-d's ways and becoming a heretic!  One of the commentaries explains that since the boy had not fulfilled the mitzvah by bringing the eggs to his father since he fell, then he had not completed the mitzvah of honoring his parents.

Even if we say that he was in the process of doing so and he was following what his father wanted him to do, this answer seems insufficient. The Talmud tells us that the rabbis answered Elisha by telling him he didn't understand the verse properly.

Since there is no merit that a person gets of the mitzvah seemingly in this world, then we must explain that the lengthening of days means in the next world i.e. a greater portion in the world-to-come. The rabbis were telling Elisha that what we see in this world we don't always understand but it cannot be that the child would get long life in this world!

Elisha disagreed with the argument of the rabbis and became a heretic until the end of his life. We understand where Elisha is coming from if we have experienced a tragendy or seen trauma in our lives. If G-d is upright and just, how can these things happen?

This has been an age-old question throughout the millenia of why bad things happen to good people. The idea is that we don't understand how G-d works and what His rationale is for the things He does in this world. At the same time, we have to live in this world and function and do what He wants us to regardless of the circumstances.

This is when our belief in Him has to be the strongest. When things go our way and everything is good, do we acknowledge all the good that G-d does for us? We certainly complain when things don't go according to plan, blaming Him for everything that happens.

We have to live our lives according to both sides of the coin. We have to live in G-d's world and do what He wants even if it is hard or difficult. We also have to acknowledge the good that He does for us and be thankful for everything we have.

G-d never said life would be easy but He gave us a blueprint of how to live through His Torah. May we practice what we learn and envelop its priceless message!

Shabbat Shalom