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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, June 11, 2015

Parshas Shelach: Don't stray after your hearts!

"And the L-rd spoke to Moshe, saying, 'Speak to the children of Israel and bid them that they make them fringes in the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of each corner a thread of blue and it shall be to you as a fringe that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the L-rd and do them and that you seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you go astray" (Numbers 15:37 - 40)

The Torah tells us here that the purpose of the commandment of tzitzis is that by wearing them it will remind you of all the other commandments but in the very next verse we are told that it will help us remember all the commandments so that you will not go after your own heart and eyes. Are these two statements mutually exclusive or part of the same reason?

The reason that we remember all the commandments through the mitzvah of tzizis is because the numerical value of the world tzizis is 600. If we add to this the 5 double knots and the 8 strings found in each tassel we get 613. This means if we would just look at our tzizis (all you men out there) then if we would just look at them every so often and be reminded of what G-d wants from us, we would be more likely not to transgress any of the commandments.

The Torah says that this may not be enough because by just looking at the fringes may not stop us in our tracks when we are about to transgress. The Torah then warns us not to go astray after our hearts or after our eyes. In essence if we look at them and it doesn't stop us then we would should remember not to stray after our hearts!

These statements then seemingly go hand in hand. While looking at the fringes should stop us from transgressing, if they don't remember that we have an obligation to keep all the mitzvos and not stray after our eyes. Hopefully that should be enough as a deterrant!

Why is so bad about going after one's heart or eyes? Aren't we emotional people that have needs and desires that have to be met? Should we just suppress our inner feelings and not let them come out to the forefront?

The Torah warns us that all desires in our heart and our thoughts may not be good for us. The Torah does not tell us that everything is forbidden and there is nothing permissible, but rather how to harness this world and enjoy it in the best way possible.

This means that although it is permissible to eat and drink it is forbidden to be a glutton or a drunk. We have to eat in moderation to guard our bodies and keep the body healthy. The Torah just warns us the most beneficial way to do things.

People mistakenly look at the Torah as a "man-made" book with a bunch of antiquated laws that are forbidden or permitted that are irrelevant to our "modern" generation. This could not be further from the truth. G-d himself gave us a book with running commentary in which to teach us how to live life to the fullest and how to enjoy this world.

This doesn't mean that we don't have to understand it to the best of our ability and delve into the complexities of it. G-d is a "metiv" and that He wants to give His goodness to us for us to enjoy in this world. He gave us specific instructions in how to do so.

Therefore, the Torah reminds us about the importance of keeping all the mitzvos but the way He wants us to follow them, not the way we think is best. The Torah warns us to be careful and not stray after our hearts or eyes because ultimately we will live in a world in which "we" created it and not G-d.

This will take G-d out of the picture and the purpose of creation will be thwarted. The more we keep His mitzvos and do what He wants then the more the world gets perfected. Each time we do something to perfect the world, the more His presence is with us and is shown to the world.

May we merit to continue to strive and live according to His will!

Shabbat Shalom