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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, September 3, 2015

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 5 Mishnah 12: The Farmers that Keep Shmitah (Sabbatical Year) are the Real Heroes!

"At four periods pestilence increases: in the fourth year, in the seventh (sabbatical year); in the year following the sabbatical year, and at the conclusion of Sukkot in every year. In the fourth year, for having failed to give the tithe to the poor which was due in the third year; in the seventh year, for having failed to give the tithe to the poor which was due in the sixth year; in the year following the sabbatical year, for having made forbidden use of the harvest of the sabbatical year; at the conclusion of Sukkos in every year, for having robbed the gifts assigned to the poor (in the course of the whole agricultural year)."

The Mishna begins by telling us that the reason pestilence comes to the world is because there was failure to give the tithe to the poor which was due in the third year and failure to give the tithe to the poor which was due in the sixth year. The fundamental flaw here is that one did not give of their resources that G-d gave them to the poor.

When we look at livelihood, one thing  we need to understand is that everything comes from above. Whether we make a little or a lot, we have an obligation to help others in their time of need, each one according to their means. Even if one cannot give money, they still can give a good word or help in other ways. The main thing we learn is that we have to give!!

Statistically speaking, Jews give exponentially more to charity than any other group,  This is incredible because even though the Jews are a small fraction of the population, they give in such huge numbers! This is a testimony to the fact that Jews have compassion for others and want to help in any way they can!

If a person can give but refuses to, thinking that the money they make really belongs to them and since they earned it, why should they help out others. After all, didn't they use their G-d given gifts to be successful? Others should be able to do the same thing so they just need to work harder and be more sly in their business dealings and they will also succeed!

The Torah explains after the sin of Adam and Eve that man will have to work hard to make a living. Even if we do so, there is no guarantee that we will be successful unless G-d wills it. Regards of our IQ or connections, we have to remember that G-d runs the world as He sees fit. It is not because the person themselves created what they did by themselves; they had someone above watching and helping them in the process.

We learn from here that if we are helped from above and have what to give, then by all means we should be thankful that we can give and the G-d has helped us. This obligates us then to help others and never forget what G-d has done for us.

Even if we under the circumstances we can't give charity that does mean we can't help others. Whe we give of ourselves to others, we strengthen ourselves spiritually by being a partner with G-d in this world. No one ever loses by helping others!

If we forget this lesson, then the Mishna tells us that we will pay a severe price because we are ungrateful for the great bounty that G-d has bestowed upon us. This is also true if we misuse the fruits of the sabbatical year.

The purpose of leaving the land fallow is not to just let it rest so the soil can be replenished to grow stronger in coming years but rather to show our belief in G-d and how He runs the world. The Torah commands us to leave the land fallow in Israel during the sabbatical year which takes a tremendous amount of strength since a farmer has his whole livelihood invested in this, how can they just give it up for a year?

These farmers are the real heroes and are an example to us of those willing to do whatever G-d wants them to. It brings G-d down to this world so to speak when people witness these great men demonstrating their belief in how G-d runs the world. This is a lesson for all of us!