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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 13, 2015

Parshas Re'eh: Doing G-d's will because He said so!!

"You shall not eat any abominable thing. These are the beasts which you may eat: the ox, the sheep and the goat, the deer, and the gazelle and the fallow..." (Deuteronomy 14:3-4)

The Torah here mentions the animals we are allowed to eat and not allowed to eat and what are the criteria for eating what we do. What is the reason behind these laws? After all the anti-semites (Jews and non-Jews) make the argument that these laws make us different from the non-Jews and therefore they disparage us for not being like them. Is this really fair?

The answer is that it is true the laws of the Torah distinguish Jews from non-Jews. G-d when He chose us and we chose Him wants us to be different than everyone else. In fact in verse one of the same chapter the Torah tells us that we are children of the L-rd your G-d...and you are a holy people and that the L-rd has chosen you to be a special possession to himself out of all the nations that are upon the earth. So yes there is a connection between the two.

G-d has chosen us for the purpose of making us different from all the nations. One way to do so is by what we eat. Not only are their specific species that we are allowed to eat but there are a myriad of halachos (Jewish law) that tell us how they are supposed to be killed and what makes them ineligible for eating and what disqualifies them! This could be a potential reason that G-d gave us the laws of kashrus.

At the same time according to some commentaries there are animals we are not allowed to eat (that are predators or carnivores) because when we eat them, we take their character traits inside us. When an animal is killed it's nefesh (soul) is taken away and when we eat the meat, we ingest it in ourselves. This would mean that we are what we eat. Is this really true, though?

Does that really mean that if we eat that type of animal we will start being predators ourselves or take on other bad character traits? The answer is that even though science has not proven this, yet, it does not mean that it won't be proven in the future. After all, science has barely scratched the surface of what it does know so it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that this could be true.

Another reason that G-d could have given us these laws is because He gave them to us for His own reason that we cannot fathom. There are many times that the Torah gives us reasons for doing things but it doesn't mean that it is the only reason; there could be a myriad of reason for why different mitzvos have been given but we still have to keep them to the best of our ability.

If we would look at all the mitzvos this way, then we would perform them at a total different level. The reason is that if we saw the mitzvos as a Divine decree and not because we understand so to speak why these mitzvos were given, our observance would be at a totally different. We would subjugate ourselves to Him which would underscore the importance of our relationship with Him and demonstrate our connection to Him.

The problem is that we often try and rationalize things and try to make it easier on ourselves. That being said, being subservient 24/7 is not always so easy as practical things can get in the way of that!

As we enter the month of Elul, may be subjugate ourselves as much as we can to Him as we prepare ourselves for the day of Judgment!

Shabbat Shalom