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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 16, 2015

Parshas Matos/Maasei: The Importance of the Mitzvah of Living in the Land of Israel

"And you shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land and dwell in it for I have given you the land to possess it" (Number 33:53).

Rashi here learns that when the children of Israel went into the land they were to get rid of the nations that lived there so they could dwell and establish themselves there. This means that if they get rid of the nations that live there, then they will be able to dwell there. The Ramban, though learns from here that there is a mitzvah to live in the land of Israel for all Jews.

Rav Moshe Sternbuch in Taam V'Da'as explains that according to the Ramban,  that we are not obligated in living in the land unless we get rid of the inhabitants there. The reason is because the seven nations that dwelt there caused great impurity to the land through the worshiping of idols and immorality that as long as they were there they caused great spiritual danger to the Jewish people and must be removed.

The foundation of this mitzvah Rav Sternbuch explains is that there must be opportunity for the Jewish people to live in the land with holiness! This is to show why the Torah needed to tell us first that the nations should be displaced and only then should the Jewish people dwell there. Therefore the exemption of living in the land is not because of onus but rather this is way the mitzvah is set up in the Torah.

The Ramban here explains that the mitzvah of living in Israel applies today to a person that is sure that by living there a person will not blemish his kids in their belief in G-d and the way He runs the world. Rav Elchanan Wasserman (may his blood be avenged) explains in his work Epochs of the Messiah that if the government of Israel's goal is to uproot tenets of Judaism and make it extremely difficult for religious Jews to live there, then there is no mitzvah to dwell in such a place!

Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnefeld z"l lived in Israel before the state was founded explained that the mitzvah of living in the land of Israel we can learn out from the mitzvah of circumcision. The mitzvah of circumcision is no less important than the mitzvah of living in the land because circumcision supercedes shabbos and if someone died because of circumcision, a younger brother is exempt because of the danger it poses.

So too if living in the land of Israel is going to cause spiritual danger to a person's family and children, spiritual death is worse than physical death! If that is true, under those circumstances there is no mitzvah to live there and put yourself in danger to do so.

People make the mistake and think that the mitzvah of living in the land corresponds to all the mitzvot! Many great people were not able to live here and if a person will have difficulty with livelihood in Israel or it is better for them to learn outside the land, then they are allowed to do so. This does not make them any less of people but the reality is that if those circumstances are true and they can't get there, then there is no obligation for them to live there.

If a person wants to come there and live, they have to take into account the family situation and how it will affect their children. The biggest mistake people make is that they come when their children are too old and then they don't fit into the system and have great difficulty!

The other issue is that living in the land comes with a higher degree of responsibility. If you are living in the palace of the king, then we have to act accordingly otherwise the repercussions could be disastrous. Where we have the greatest amount of holiness there is also a great amount of impurity as well. We are better off being Jews living outside the land who have a strong desire to be there than a Jew in Israel who desires to live outside the land!!

Shabbat Shalom