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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, April 30, 2015

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 4 Mishna 24: Our enemies fall, can I throw a party?

Shmuel Ha'katan says, 'When your enemy falls do not be glad, and when he stumbles let your heart not be joyous. Lest Hashem see and it displeases Him, and He will turn his wrath from him (to you)'". 

What is Shmuel Ha'katan teaching us here? Can he really mean that when our enemies fall or stumble we are not allowed to be happy? We would think just the opposite that it would be a mitzvah to see the downfall of our enemies?

The question here is why is the person happy at the fall or stumbling of his enemy? Is it because he feels that the person deserves this punishment and therefore measure for measure he is being punished by G-d or is it because he really hates this person and is happy that they are getting their just deserts! The issue with this is that it is forbidden to hate a person in your heart!

Rabbenu Yonah explains that although this enemy has fallen, even if they are truly evil they are still part of G-d's creation.. If we see their downfall as a way to sanctify G-d
's name and bring about the honor to His kingdom, then that is permissible.

It would also be permissible if we are happy that G-d has meted out justice. This means that although we are not allowed to be happy at their downfall, this is not what gives us satisfaction. The pleasure that we get from this is because judgment has been enacted and we have in fact been saved from possible destruction.

Philosophically this is a difficult thing to understand because we should be allowed to have joy when our enemies fall. The Mishna here goes even further that if act happy in a way that we are not supposed to like in this case, not only does it displease G-d but He will turn His wrath to you instead of the enemy! Why should that be?

The reason is because your character traits are a bit warped. This means that since our intention here was not for the sake of heaven but you were happy that the enemy has fallen, it shows a lack of compassion for G-d's creation.

Since you weren't happy that justice was meted out and got pleasure from seeing their destruction because of your hatred for them, G-d will then turn His wrath against you! If we would have realized how bad my intention here is then G-d would not have to do this.

This teaches us a tremendous lesson. Even if we have the right to hate someone or their actions, nonetheless when something bad happens to them, we can't just start whistling Dixie and throwing a party! We have to remember that although what they did was wrong and they were deserving of punishment, it doesn't give us the right to be mean and still not show compassion.

G-d does not want to have to do what He did, but the enemy is deserving of punishment and therefore must be dealt with appropriately. Nonetheless, life is lost and people suffer, maybe they are deserving of it, but that is not the character trait G-d wants us to embellish. We still have to remember that even if that person should die because of their bad actions, life has been lost and we should not take that lightly!