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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, March 5, 2015

Ethics of our Fathers; Chapter 4 Mishna 18; Adherence to Torah and Rabbinical Authority

"Rabbi Nehorai said: 'Go as a voluntary exile to a place of Torah, and do not say that the Torah will seek after you, for it is your fellow students who will make it your permanent possession; and do not rely on your own understanding.'"

The Mishna explains that if there are no rabbinic scholars or proper Torah institutions where you live then you have to put yourself in "exile" and go to a place where there are. The reason for this is because if one wants to truly keep the Torah and its mitzvos, you have to be in a place that is conducive for that.

The Rambam in the laws of repentance tells us that one of the things that stops a person from proper repentance is if they separate themselves from the community. A person cannot live on their own island so-to-speak and think that they can keep Torah by themselves.

This is why it is so important for proper converts to Judaism to live in a thriving Jewish community.
This means that there have to be Jewish schools for children to go to and orthodox synagogues for one to pray in. If a person lived in a small community with just one orthodox synagogue and no schools, under most circumstances they would have to move to a bigger Jewish community to be able to convert.

The reason is that the potential convert will see how Jews who adhere to Torah live their lives and put into practice what they learn. Although a person can learn a lot on their own, there is nothing like seeing it in action. Not only that but no matter how learned a person may be, unless that person lives in the Jewish community, no beis din (rabbinical court) will convert you.

 The last part of the Mishna explains that a person cannot rely on their own understanding. This means that a person shouldn't rely on their own logic or how they seem to understand things unless they get the advice from other rabbinical authorities. This is extremely important in having a proper mentor that can guide a person and give them proper advice in their growth in spirituality.

The Talmud tells us a spiritual mentor is someone whom we look at as an angel; if we don't see them that way, then we can't learn Torah from them. This does not mean that people are perfect; far from it but we want to learn from people that exemplify the Torah and its eternal message.

Getting their much needed advice and strength changes and transforms a person's life for them and their family. They have to be willing though to nullify themselves to someone greater than them in learning which will lead to tremendous growth and inspiration,

I have had the good fortune to be around such people for the last 20 years and the influence that they have had on me and my family is priceless. I certainly wouldn't be half the person I am without that and the most important thing is that when they gave me advice I listened (usually).

Adherence to Jewish law and its myriad of customs is not an easy thing but it is a way of life that has tremendous meaning if we do what we are supposed to do. Sometimes we get caught up in the details and miss the beauty of what we are trying to accomplish. May we all merit to live a Torah life and make G-d proud of all our actions!