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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

Parshs Ki Sisa: Remember the purpose of why we were created

 "Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: 'When you take a census of the children of Israel according to their numbers, every man shall give Hashem an atonement for his soul when counting them, so that there will not be a plague among them when counting them. This shall they give everyone who passes through the census a half shekel of the sacred shekel the shekel is twenty geras, half a shekel as a portion to Hashem.'" (Exodus 30: 11-13).

Rav Moshe Feinstein z"l in Derash Moshe asks that the mitzvah of the half shekel was not given dependent on the counting of the Jewish people because there was no mitzvah to count the Jewish people until they were in the desert and the mitzvah of the half shekel was an obligation to be given even without a census! Not only that, it was forbidden to count the Jewish people not specifically with a half shekel but with anything even with pottery shards as we saw by king Saul (1 Samuel 11:8). Another question that Rav Moshe asks is that twice in the desert there needed to be the half shekel given and the language of taking a census is not used.

The explanation Rav Moshe tells us is that the Torah wants man to learn it and keep its laws and should have humility in doing so and not think that they have done some great thing but that is what they have been created to do. Rather we should look at the Torah and its mitzvos as something I am obligated to do and not something that if I do it, I should be looking for great honor and accolades.

This is the humility of Moshe that even though he knew he was the master of all the prophets, nonetheless the Torah tells us that he was the humblest of all men! This is the mistake people make when they claim that the Torah is racist by calling the Jewish people "the chosen nation". Does that mean that Jews are better than non-Jews?

No. It means that we have a special obligation to our Creator who chose us to accept His Torah and we chose Him! The main difference between Jews and non-Jews is that we were given the Torah and have more obligations to do in this world. If we do what we are supposed to do, then we are truly a special people but if not, we are still chosen just not living up to the standards that we need to.

This should not put a chip on our shoulders thinking we are better because if we snub our noses to the important teachings of the Torah, then we are no "better" than anyone else. Torah changes a person to those that exemplify its teachings and lives by them.

This is the message that Rav Moshe is teaching us. We have to see the teachings of the Torah as eternal and do our best to live to its high standards. Even if we do and we learn a lot, keep the mitzvos and transform our lives to become better people, it does not give us bragging rights or desire for honor for what we are doing; this is what we were created to do!

The Jewish people is not a social club, i.e. I was born into this particular group so it is like a clique to be part of. Just the opposite! If a person was born into it or chooses it for themselves through conversion, it is a privilege to be part of it only if we live by its laws.

Changing a person for the better and developing spiritually and learning a lot is a great thing but it does not give us the right to be haughty from it and think that we are so great. We have to learn proper humility and remember what we were created for!

Shabbat Shalom