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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 20, 2015

Parshas Shoftim: Rabbinic Court Judges can't Take Bribes!

"You shall not pervert judgment, you shall not respect someone's presence, and you shall not accept a bribe, for the bribe will blind the eyes of the wise and make just words crooked" (Deuteronomy 16:19).

The Torah here is warning rabbinical court judges that they should not take bribes and respect someone's presence and be partial when judging a case. Isn't this obvious that it would be a perversion of justice? Why does the Torah need to mention this?

The Torah warns us about many situations that we must be careful about, for the average Jew to the Levi and Kohen. The Torah also warns rabbinic court judges to be careful in their judgements. A rabbinic court judge must have tremendous working knowledge of Jewish law and how it is applied in the laws of damages. Not only that, they must be of refined character and have fear of heaven as well.

There is an issue today that should be addressed about people becoming rabbis and rabbinical court judges. While a person must study the material and show proficiency in it, they also have to have fear of heaven as well. Passing the test, getting the piece of paper does not insure that this person is "rabbi material.

This means that they have to always have a mentor that they can get guidance from and help them grow in spirituality. If a person wants to go further and has the qualifications of a rabbinical court judge, they should be chosen by great rabbinical authorities instead of just relying on their certification. A ritual slaughterer is no different because in both cases they must possess yiras shamayim (fear of heaven) in their work!

A person has to know their limitations and know when to bow out and have someone with more concrete knowledge deal with the issue at hand. Even if they know the material but have had some interaction with one of the sides, they should withdraw from the case because of any small level of bias they have.

They also should withdraw from a case if they have received a gift from one of the sides as well. The reason is that if there is anything tinge of bias that they may have, they are not allowed to judge the case. The incredible thing here is that it is not talking about the average Jew but of great rabbinical authorities.

If the Torah comes out so strongly against people that have impeccable character traits and knowledge, all the more so for the average Jew how much we need to worry about our dealings with others! The Talmud tells us that there are three ways to test a person: how they get angry, how they drink and how they deal with others in monetary matters.

When something affects our pockets, we have all the rationalizations in the world why it is permitted. We will find the leniency because we want to justify our actions! We are very good at that but at the same time we must honestly account for what we do.

In the month of Elul and as we are getting closer to Yom Kippur we must realize that our actions between man and man have to be worked on. Interpersonal relationships are crucial to the rebuilding of the Temple and having the messiah come. We are our own worst enemy and we must concentrate on overlooking what others have done to us.

Many commentators tell us that to have a good judgement for Rosh Hashana, if we overlook what others have done to us, then G-d will overlook what we have done to Him. This is easier said than done, but crucial in the repentance process. We also need to realize that when things happen to us, the people that cause them (although having their own free will) are messengers.

G-d sends these messages so that we will wake up and respond. We shouldn't make the mistake like the dog when he is hit by the stick goes after the stick and not the person. This is an important realization that G-d is giving us an opportunity to succeed and reach potential through these trials. If we only understood how crucial these things were, we would ask for more of them!

May we succeed in all our endeavors and use these times to work on ourselves, making us closer to Him!

Shabbat Shalom