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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, July 2, 2015

Parshas Balak: Learning Torah for the Wrong Reason can Backfire!

"And Bilam said to Balak, 'Build me here seven altars and prepare me here seven bullocks and seven rams" (Numbers 23:29)

The Talmud in Nazir 23b tells us that in the merit of the 42 sacrifices that Balak gave, he merited to have a descendant the caliber of Ruth, who was the forebear of king David and the Davidic line! We learn from here the Talmud explains that if one learns Torah and keeps mitzvos not for their own sake but for whatever reason, then in the end he will keep the Torah and its mitzvos for its own sake.

When we speak about not doing the mitzvos or keeping Torah for its own sake it means either to be called a rabbi or for any other reason. If someone though wants to keep mitzvos or Torah to be able to disparage others or curse them it would be better that they weren't created. If this is true, how could the Talmud tell us that Balak gets the merit of having Ruth descend from him if his intentions were less than altruistic?

Rav Yaakov Kamentzsky in his work Emes L'Yaakov explains that in this case if someone wants to learn Torah for an ulterior motive i.e. to curse or conquer his friend or foe then this idea would not apply but the intention of Balak was that through the merit of his sacrifices he should be able to have merit and have his prayer answered to be able to curse the Jewish people.

This Rav Yaakov tells was Balak's intention and it is as if a person does something so that it will help them have merit to enter the next world. Even though he wants his prayer answered to get what he wants, in reality he is doing something for an ulterior motive.

Normally we would say in such a case that this ulterior motive will not help here and certainly won't bring a person to keep the Torah for its own sake. The novelty Rav Yaakov explains is that even though he wanted to curse the Jewish people it is as if he wants the merit for something good and he prays that Hashem will listen to him!

One thing we can take out from this is that Torah should be learned for the right reasons and that it should have the positive influence on us and help us reach our true potential. If a person though learns and treats the material like another subject but it doesn't affect their lives then what the person is doing is mental gymnastics and not learning Torah!

Even so, a person could learn Torah for the wrong reason and not have intention to implement its teachings but the Torah though could influence the person positively to go in its ways. How many times have we heard people say they wanted to learn the "old testament" to be able to "prove" that their way of thinking was right and true only to have been upended by the sweetness and clarity that a Torah lifestyle brings.

A person with an open mind can still let the Torah influence them. Even if his mind is closed, the Torah can still influence a person which is why a person even with the wrong intention can still come back to their heritage.

May we always merit to learn the sweetness of the Torah and always do what G-d wants us to.

Shabbat Shalom