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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, May 7, 2015

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 4: MIshna 25: Reaching Goals in Learning

"Elisha ben Avuyah said, 'If one learns when he is young. to what is it like? To ink written on new (clean) paper. If one learns when he is old, to what is it like? To ink written on blotted paper'".

The purpose of education is to teach us (at least in theory) to think for ourselves and use the information to prepare us to be productive members of society. There is a major difference, though in learning when one is young and when one is old.

When a person is young, they remember things much better. Although we need to constantly review to make sure that we remember what we learned, nonetheless, it will stay with us much longer than if we started out learning if we were older.

Just ask any teacher after summer vacation and school starts how long it takes the students to get back in the swing of things in their new classes. They often have to do some review of what they learned the previous year so that they will be able to use that information to integrate it into their classes.

This is why the Mishna compares learning when one is young to new paper. Yes the paper can be erased but they will still remember better than when they are older. The reason is when a person learns later in life, it is that much more difficult to retain the learning since it becomes forgotten easily.

This is precisely the reason that learning Torah later in life is such a great challenge. Without having the proper base as a kid, it is an uphill struggle that takes great effort to achieve. Learning Torah in general takes great effort, but if the base is there earlier in life, it is much easier to succeed later.

We should not lose hope for those that have started learning at a later age as we can look to none other than Rabbi Akiva who only started his formal learning at the age of 40 and became one of the great sages of the Jewish people. Through great effort and diligence one can attain great goals even if they started learning later in life.

The Mishna wants to emphasize the importance of not only continued learning, but starting from a very young age. This is how we train our children in mitzvah observance by teaching them so young. Another reason is if we try and teach them when they are older, the yetzer harah (evil inclination) is much greater and they may not be interested. They will already be tempted by other things society has to offer and the pull may be too great for the Torah to have an influence on them.

If we get them used to mitzvah performance by educating them and living by the precepts of the Torah, we will be successful in transmitting its priceless message! That doesn't mean people cannot be successful later in life but they are at a disadvantage. If they put in the effort and really try, then even later in life they can attain great things!