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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 21, 2015

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 4 Mishna 27: Respect the older generations and know your place!

"Rabbi Meir said, 'Do not look at the flask but at what it contains: a new flask may be filled with old wine and old flask may be empty even of new wine (a man's age is not a reliable index to his learning)'. 

The importance of old wine will not get ruined in a new flask, so too if young people become wise from learning from older established scholars then people would learn from these young whipper snappers first! Rabbenu Yonah explains this is the difference in approach between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Rosi ben Yehudah since Rabbi Yosi explained that we should learn from rabbinical scholars that are older because of their knowledge, life experience and their ability to give over their wisdom to others.

Rabbi Meir, on the other hand held that we shouldn't go after the majority when it comes to gaining wisdom. The reason is because we may find young people who are wise and have vast knowledge that they can transmit  to others and therefore it would be better to learn from them as long as they meet that criteria. What is the difference in approach here and what are we supposed to gain from it?

As in the previous Mishna, we discussed the importance of learning from older people and the importance of gaining from their vast experience and life experience. This still holds true and there is nothing that can compensate for that. At the same time, if there are young scholars, although lacking more life experience but have acquired wisdom and an ability to others should not disqualify from learning from them just because they are young.

There is a certain freshness that comes with younger rabbinic scholars; a new energy that invigorates both the old and young! If they have the ability to give over to others and inspire the masses, then all the more so one should listen to them and gain from their teachings!

The thing that we have to be careful for is that these young scholars have to realize their place in the bigger picture. Although they have amassed great knowledge, they still have to respect the older generation and seek out their opinions. They cannot look at themselves as equals even if they are scholars.

That is why it is forbidden for younger generation rabbinic scholars to argue and disagree with their predecessors unless they have rabbinic scholars of that same generation that disagree with those same scholars. According to this opinion, as long as their are scholars of previous generations that agree with their premise, they then can argue, otherwise it would be forbidden!

This seems to be a great novelty here because why should their opinion be less valid than from someone of a previous generation? Aren't we more knowledgeable today with all our technological advances and such?

The answer is although that may be true, we believe that the previous generations are greater than later generations because of their closeness to the previous generations all the way to the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

They are that link in the chain that goes back to greatness we can't even imagine. Who today or of the last generation can compare themselves to the Vilna Gaon? How can the Vilna Gaon be compared to the Rambam and the Rambam to the prophets?

The further back we go, the higher the spiritual level. The problem is that we live in a backwards society that calls these people medieval and would have no clue about the "new" "modern" generation, because after all they are medieval!

One thing we learn from here is that we shouldn't make ourselves bigger than we are; we all have to know our place even if we possess great wisdom!