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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 28, 2015

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 4: Mishna 28: Three things that could literally kill you

"Rabbi Elazar ha'Kappar said, "Envy, lust and honor shorten a man's life'".

These three bad character traits Rabbi Elazar tells us can shorten a man's life. Why specifically these three and no others? After all, there are other bad traits a person can have that could also shorten their lives!

The simple explanation many commentators bring is that we learn out from different verses of the Torah for each trait that specifically state that it will shorten a man's life. Even though we can explain this as a direct command from G-d that this will happen, what is the deeper meaning to this?

Envy is something that consumes a person and never gives them any rest. If a person is jealous of someone else for either what they know, how they look, how much money they make, their can literally destroy them. The reason is that they are consumed by their "lack" of whatever they don't have or they think they deserve that they will do anything to achieve it! Even if that is true, how does it shorten a person's life?

Shortening a person's life either means that it will have such a negative effect on them that it effects their health and literally kills them or it can mean that it can take them out of this world leaving them with no portion in the world to come. This means that they have succumbed to this character trait to the extent that it has caused them to forfeit their portion in the next world.

Envy on the other had can be also used for good things. A person can be jealous of someone else's Torah knowledge and desire and strive that much harder to reach their true potential. That type of envy is ok because it will lead to greater knowledge and character development while trying to become closer to G-d!

The second thing Rabbi Elazar tells is that a person should stay away from lust or desire. Desire is something that the yetzer harah (evil inclination) gives us to satisfy or let us think we need to satisfy our needs. Most likely, when a person acts on these desires (which burn inside themselves) it causes them spiritual damage. This means that it gives the body satisfaction which it will continue to seek.

Desire or lust in this case is something looked at in a negative light. It is something that will lead a person astray and cause them to distance themselves from their Creator! At the same time, many will claim that these desires are normal and that we should experience different things because after all, we are part of the physical world and G-d certainly wants us to benefit from it and enjoy it!

This fallacy causes more destruction than it is worth! We have to live in the physical world, that is where we have been placed to reach our spiritual perfection but that does not mean a person should give in to every desire because they have the right to get benefit from this world! We are put here to work on our character traits and harness them.

Yes it is permissible to eat and drink but that doesn't mean we should be a glutton and abuse it. We have to use things in this world to the best of our ability without corrupting ourselves at the same time. This may seem like we are always walking a thin line but nonetheless we have to be careful.

The last thing Rabbi Elazar tells us is that we have to be careful with honor. Although every person needs to have some level of self-esteem, honor can cause false pride and make a person think they are something that they are not. They have to realize that even if they do receive honor, it should be looked at as G-d helping them in their endeavors and make them humble.

The problem is that honor brings conceit which certainly can harm a person as by the way they are seen by their peers. A person should run far away from trying to receive honor because of the negative effect it can have on a person.

A person will look at themselves differently and will think that they don't need anyone else or G-d for that manner which will make them into a heretic. A person has to know their self-worth but also have a tremendous amount of humility. When we are humble, we can appreciate all the G-d does for us which will be an inspiration to us to continue and strive to do His will which will have a positive effect on others.