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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 23, 2015

Parshas Devarim: Am I allowed to give up my life on something other than the three cardinal sins?

"But hear the small as well as the great; do not be afraid of the face of any man; for the judgement is G-d's and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it to me and I will hear it" (Deuteronomy 1:17).

The Torah tells and warns us that a person should not be afraid that someone may do something bad to him or his property but it could be maybe a small thing he will do to me and that I should guard myself against it and worry. Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky in Emes L'Yaakov explains from this we can learn that a person even be obligated to give up their lives for the sake of judgment.

This is hard to understand because nothing stands in the way of saving the life of a Jew except for the three cardinal sins of murder, idolatry and immorality, nonetheless this may come under the category of sanctification of G-d's name! If in cases of judgment a non-Jew would ask something about what the Torah says which would result in the Jew having to give up his life, then they are still obligated to give over their lives to give the information knowing that this non-Jew will kill you!!

The issue here though is from the very verse itself if there is worry that someone may kill you then you don't have to give up your life, then we don't have to put ourselves in danger and can guard ourselves against this. It could be if it is not clear where this is going to go, then one can guard themselves even to protect their property or assets. Although it is not so clear, we see a tremendous lesson from this.

The Torah has placed high demands on the Jewish people. Although there is an obligation for a Jew to give up their lives for the three cardinal sins, it could be under other circumstances they would have to give up their lives sanctifying G-d's name. There is a question if one gives up their life in a situation where they are not obligated to but do so anyway, whether or not this is called suicde.

We hold that it is not called suicide because there are certain times and situations that a person may have to do so and feel it is the right thing to do rather than acquiesce to what is about to befall them. That being said, the Torah allows us to guard ourselves but we have to be prepared to lose money or even our lives to uphold the statutes of the Torah! While I have heard many converts to Judaism say they will do whatever it takes to be a Jew even if means giving up their lives, they have to understand what is at stake in becoming a Jew in the first place.

A non-Jew was not allowed to convert to Judaism in the times of David and Solomon and will not be allowed to convert when the Messiah comes. The reason is because since the Jewish people will be on such a roll, if they convert it is like their free will is being taken away from them and only joining because the Jewish people are on top! At the same time, if we look at Jewish history and see the utter destruction through pogroms and such, we have to explain to the non-Jew before conversion that they understand exactly what they are getting themselves into!

The Torah is not G-d forbid a book of fairy tales or a five year option to renew; it's about real issues and life itself! May we never have to come to such things but we must be prepared if we did, then we are ready to put our lives on the line! That is the least we can do to sanctify G-d's name in this world.

Shabbat Shalom