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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 23, 2015

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 4: Mishna 23: Know when to Speak!

"Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar says, 'Do not appease your fellow in the time of his anger; do not console him when his dead lies before him; do not question him about his vow at the time he makes it; and do not see him at the time of his degradation'".

 The first part of the Mishna tells us that we shouldn't try and appease our friend when he is angry. The commentators explain that the reason is when a person is angry they lose themselves and don't think rationally and will often berate the person who is trying to help them. It is certainly better to wait for the anger to subside than trying to speak to the person at that time.

 When a person is angry, the Talmud tells us even if they were standing over the pit of gehinom (hell) they would not be moved to repent or let the anger go. We lose ourselves in the moment and no matter what anyone will tell us (within reason) we will not listen or even entertain the advice they are trying to give us.

This is similar to trying to console someone when their dead is in front of them. Since this a very highly charged time, it is better to console them during the mourning period. This is in fact the mitzvah of consoling mourners that we go to their homes and help console them for their loss.

What we would tell them at the funeral is of no consequence because of the pain that they are feeling at that time. The best we can do is give them a hug, a consoling show that you care. This is certainly better than any words a person can say!

We cannot also try and question a person at the time they make a vow. Sometimes a vow is made in frustration or anger but if we try and find a way to annul it while they are making it, we would best use our energy for something else.

There is a disagreement the Talmud discusses whether it is better to make a vow and uphold it or not to make a vow at all. At the end of the discussion the Talmud concludes that is better to not have made the vow. Certainly though if someone made the vow, that is not the time to try and convince them why they should not have done it.

It is better to wait rather than try and convince someone at the height of what they are doing. They certainly won't listen and will be offended at your overtures.

The last part of the Mishna tells us that we should not see a person at his time of degradation. When a person embarrasses themselves or does something wrong, we shouldn't be there to watch and enjoy. Very often these things can happen right in front of us, but if we stay there and gawk, it embarrasses the person even further.

We learn from here how careful a person must be in their interactions with others. We have to know when it is ok to speak and when it is better to not say anything. Unfortunately we often act without thinking and although we think we are helping out, in reality we are causing the other pain.

We must be careful at times of great emotion where someone is either angry or lost a dear one to step back and not say anything until the anger or hurt subsides. We will cause more damage than it is worth if we try and answer during these trying time!

May G-d gives us the strength to know when to speak and give the right words to the person at the appropriate time!