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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 26, 2015

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 4 Mishna 21: Prepare for the Big Game, Don't be a Spectator!!

"Rabbi Yaakov said: 'This world is like a vestibule before the world to come; prepare yourself in the vestibule, so that you may enter the banquet hall'".

The Talmud tells a story of how G-d goes to all the nations and asks them if they are interested in keeping the Torah. Each one asks what is written in it and each nation after hearing the answer reject the Torah. G-d comes to the Jewish people and asks them if they want the Torah and they say yes, na'aseh v'nishma (we will do and then we will hear) and they are given the Torah.

There is then a discussion that continues and concludes that one who does not prepare themselves for shabbos, don't get to eat on shabbos, which is the same idea this Mishna presents: if you don't prepare yourself in this world, then you won't be able to enjoy the next world. What exactly does this mean, since we know that every Jew, the Mishna at the beginning of every chapter of Ethics of our Fathers tells us has a portion in the world to come?

This means that whatever actions we do in this world to connect to G-d will reflect in what we merit in the next world. If we work hard in this world keeping the Torah and mitzvos then we will be rewarded accordingly; if not, then we may not even enter the banquet hall.

Even for someone that wasted their time in this world, the Talmud tells us that there is no Jew that hasn't performed mitzvos that should provide them with a place in the next world. The problem is how G-d looks at what they have done and takes into account the many transgressions that they have done. How does all this get weighed out?

Every action a person does creates an angel who will give testimony before the heavenly tribunal after they die. At that point, G-d calls all the angels to testify for what this person did in this world and then after hearing all the evidence G-d decides what should happen to this soul and where it will go.

If it needs to to be rectified because of the many transgressions it has done, it will go through a cleansing process which will allow it to be purified and take its proper position in the next world. Sometimes, that may not be enough and that soul will have to come back to this world, reincarnated to fix up what it messed up previously.

With that being said, we make the bed that we sleep in. When we get upstairs after 120 years, we will see all of our actions, thoughts...just like what someone experiences after having an out of body experience. Many say they are attracted to a great light and see their entire lives flash before them...

Some will have some merit to return to this world, others won't. At that point, we can't argue that we didn't do this or that, it has all been recorded!! Shouldn't that scare us into wanting to be better people?

It's like being at a big sporting event with bad seats. What's better, being there with a bad seat and not being able to see much or sitting at home and watching it on tv? If you are in the comfort of your own home, keep in mind that you are not at the big game, you are a bystander watching from afar. If you are sitting in bad seats, even if you can't see that much at least you are at the game!

This parable is exactly what the Mishna here means. If we want to get to the big game, we have to be players, not spectators from afar. We have to be in the game itself, if not, why should we get all the benefits if we aren't there?

We need to maximize our short time in this world and use it for holiness which will prepare us for greater things in the next world. If we don't prepare, we may get nothing which will just be wasted time in this world without any purpose whatsoever.