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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, August 27, 2015

Parshas Ki Tetze: Keeping the Sexes Apart

"Male garb should not be on a woman and a man shall not wear a woman's garment, for anyone who does so is an abomination of Hashem" (Deteronomy 22: 5)

What exactly is the prohibition over here and why is it so severe that anyone who does so is considered an abomination to Hashem? Is the way I look or dress really matter all that much to the extent I am considered disgusting in G-d's eyes?

Clothing and the way a person looks defines them and a person feels different by the different things that they wear. If a person wears a three piece suit they definitely will not feel the same as if they were wearing shorts and a tank top or jeans for that matter. This is precisely why people who "dress up" for work will quickly change out of their clothes after work to show that they are just wearing them for the job but the real "me" wears more comfortable, casual clothing.

In Judaism on the other hand, clothing defines who we are. This is our uniform and we wear it whether it is hot or cold and we don't change them because they are our work clothes but rather these are our clothes!!

At the same time, we must not get caught up in externals. Just because a Jew wears the right clothing and "walks the walk and talks the talk" does not make them an upstanding Jew; they are conforming to what the community wants them to wear. On the other hand, we do have a uniform that defines who we are and who we want to identify with.

Once we go outside those parameters not only do we lose our identity but we are subjected to the ways the non-Jewish society views things and influences us what we should or shouldn't wear. The question we must ask ourselves is what does our clothing mean to us and how do we view ourselves in them?

This leads to the explanation of this verse. A man and woman were created differently and were given different roles to fulfill. Therefore, their mode of dress is different as well. A man cannot be a woman and a woman not a man; two distinctive creations with different functions.

It follows suit then if that premise is true we would not be allowed to wear the others clothing or do things that are specific to that one gender. Under this category is that a man is not allowed ot look in a mirror for an extended amount of time to see how they look like a woman does.

A man is allowed to look into a mirror to make sure that they look ok but that's it; they shouldn't be priming themselves so much like a woman does; that would come under this category. Any of these things make sense because the Torah wants to make clear this separation.

We live in a world of cross dresses, transvestites an the like that want to blur the image of what is acceptable in today's society. Judaism has clear guidelines of what women and men do; the things that are mutually exclusive to one the other is not allowed to do.

There is tremendous wisdom in this way of thinking that sets out to make clear delineations between the sexes. The reason the Torah does this is to make sure there is no crossover and that the roles for women stay for women and the roles for men stay for men.

May we learn to live within the boudnaries that G-d has created for us all!

Shabbat Shalom