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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

Parshas Naso: Curbing our Desires: Good Idea or not?

"And the L-rd spoke to Moshe, saying, 'Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, When either a man or woman shall pronounce a special vow of a Nazir to separate themselves to the L-rd" (Numbers 6: 1-2).

The Talmud asks whether it is a good thing to make vow and adhere to it or better not to have made the vow at all? We would think that it is a good thing to make the vow and adhere to it but in reality it is better not to have made the vow in the first place. The reason is that a person may make the vow but for whatever reason they are not able to keep it and will therefore need this vow to be nullified. What is the problem here?

If a person becomes a Nazirite then they are separating themselves from any product that comes from grapes ie wine, grape juice and that they will not come in contact with any dead body or cut their hair, depending how long the vow is. It definitely seems meritorious to refrain from doing these things but didn't G-d put you in this world to enjoy it? If that's true, then why are we all of a sudden becoming aesthetic and separating ourselves from things that are permissible to us?

This is exactly the disagreement that the Talmud is talking about. One opinion is that it is fine to make a vow and adhere to it because they are saying what they are going to do and doing what they are saying. They in essence are not causing themselves a stumbling block because they are fulfilling the words that they have spoken.

The flip side is that a person should not be forbidding things that are permissible to themselves lest they not be able to keep their promise! This is a real danger because there are a number of things that could come up that would lead someone to break their vow. This is why it is better to not make the vow at all so you don't have this issue!

This also leads to the fundamental question of how we look at this world. Do we look at it as inherently evil and everything is bad but I have to live here anyway even if it is bad or do we see it a place where we can grow and become more spiritual? The difference between these two philosophies is enormous.

If we look at the world as inherently evil then no matter what I do does not matter in the bigger scheme of things because of the how everything is set up. In essence my actions don't matter in a lawless G-dless world so therefore I might as well enjoy this world and do whatever I want without any repercussions!

If we look at the world though as a place of growth and a person is stuck here, then we have to make the most of it and try and become the best people we can. One way to do that is trying to reach higher levels by even forbidding things that are permissible. This gives us a higher awareness, making us ever more careful in our actions and how we interact with others.

This can be an amazing thing; we curb our appetites and don't eat that extra piece of cake or indulge in other things because we want to work on controlling our desires. We are not talking about suppressing them but controlling them in an way that has a positive and not negative effect on us!

May we merit to enjoy this world the way G-d wants and reach our potential as we go in the ways of the Torah.

Shabbat Shalom