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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, December 31, 2015

Parshas Shemos: Why did G-d Send us to Egypt anyway?

"The daughter of Pharaoh said, 'Go. The girl went and summoned teh boy's mother. Pharaoh's daughter said to her, 'Take this boy and nurse him for me and I will give your pay. So the woman took the boy and nursed him. The boy grew up and she brought him to the daughter of Pharaoh and he was a son to her. She called his name Moshe as she said, 'For I drew him from the water" (Shemos 2:5-10)

Moshe would not nurse from a non-Jewish woman and Moshe was then nursed by his mother. He then is taken by Pharaoh's daughter and she essentially raises him in the her father's palace. So right under Pharaoh's nose is the one that will save the Jewish people from his clutches. Why did G-d set it up this way?

The Jewish people were sent to Egypt so that they could learn what it means to serve a king so that they would then be better able to learn how to serve the king of kings! Moshe was brought up in the palace to learn exactly what a king is in this world so he could understand kingship! There are no coincidences in Torah!

This just goes to show if G-d wants to do something, He can do it right under your nose without you even knowing it! A person could be doing something and have the answer right in front of him but G-d doesn't allow him to see it or fathom it. G-d's ways are hidden but sometimes we get a glimpse of why He does things.

In this case the Jewish people are sent to Egypt and are almost obliterated spiritually where G-d has to come and take them out against their will! Not only that but 80% of the Jewish people do not leave Egypt so that means that according to some opinions more than 8 million Jews died in Egypt. If that is true then why did G-d bring them down there in the first place?

The reason was so that the Jewish people could understand kingship in this world. Couldn't G-d have done it another way where the Jews wouldn't have been destroyed spiritually and 80% wouldn't have been wiped out in the plague of darkness. This is one of the mysteries we may never know but G-d felt that was the best scenario.

Here you had Moshe living in the palace of the kings and seeing kingship first hand. The Jewish  people also saw what a king was and when they saw G-d at Mount Sinai they now understood what   kingship was. How would they have understood it had they not been there?

G-d runs the world and intervenes in history. We learn this through the exodus from Egypt. Although His ways are hidden, we sometimes get a glimpse as to why things are done the way they are. Even if we don't, we realize that these things are beyond us and we should let G-d run the world the way He needs to do and we will do what we need to do to serve Him!

Shabbat Shalom

Ethics of Our Fathers: Chapter 6: Mishna 1: Rejoice in the Opportunities G-d Gives Us!

"Rabbi Meir said: 'Whoever engages in Torah study for its own sake merits many things, furthermore the creation of the entire world is worthwhile for his sake alone. He is called, 'Friend, Beloved' He loves the Omnipresent, he loves (His) creatures, he gladdens the Omnipresent, (The Torah) clothes him in humility and (fear of G-d) it makes him fit to be righteous, devout, fair and faithful. It moves him away from sin and draws him near to merit. From him, people enjoy counsel and wisdom, understanding and strength, as it is aid: 'Mine are counsel and wisdom, I am understanding, mine is strength'. (The Torah) gives him kingship and he becomes like a steadily strengthening fountain and like an unceasing river. He becomes modest, patient, and forgiving of insult to himself. (The Torah) makes him great and exalts him above all things'".

The power of Torah is incredible! Imagine if a person continually learns and the Torah actually transforms him whereby people stop to take notice of such a great person. This is what the Mishna means when it gives all these blessings for someone who engages in Torah study for its own sake. The reason is because they are doing this for no other reason than for the ability to be able to learn Torah and keep its mitzvos!

They learn and keep the mitzvos to the best of their ability because this is what the Torah demands from them. There are no ulterior motives here; striving for perfection because they want to be the best people they can and be close to G-d. Isn't that what G-d wants from all of us? Doesn't he want us to strive and work on ourselves so that we can reach that true potential that we all have?

If we would live up to the ideals of the Torah won't G-d be happy with us and the whole world as well? Our actions will have such influence that people will say "thank G-d his father taught him Torah". This will be a real sanctification of G-d's name which will have tremendous influence on others around us.

People will come to them for advice while at the same time they will be modest and humble and realize the great bounty that G-d has given them. This will allow them to use their strengths to continue to learn more which will again have a tremendous influence on others. Is there no greater joy than this?

This all comes to true when we realize that this is the most important thing that we must do. We must use all our strength in this endeavor by dedicating ourselves to this goal. When we realize that all we do is because of its own sake and has nothing to do with my ego or anything else, we become one with G-d. We realize our subservience to the Torah and its teachings but at the same time, it allows us to develop patience and be modest.

We should be thankful every day that we are able to learn Torah and learn its treasured lessons. We should be so fortunate to be able to understand the intricacies of its laws and implement them into our daily lives. Even if life is hard and we have trials and tribulations, that means I should serve G-d with a sour face or be upset when doing His will?

Life in general is hard and taxing upon us. Nonetheless G-d gives us the power to tap into Him and overcome them! It makes us into who we are! We should be jumping up and down at the ability to be part of such a thing.

Many look at the Torah and its laws as drudgery and things that I cannot do. Torah is just the opposite. We have the opportunity to open our hearts to Him. That alone should give us an extra oomph in our step and make us proud to do His will!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Parshas Vayechi: G-d Runs the World!

"His brothers themselves also went and flung themselves before him and said, 'We are ready to be your slaves.' But Yosef said to them, 'Fear not, for am I instead of G-d? Although you intended me harm, G-d intended it for good in order to accomplish it is as clear as this day that a vast people be kept alive" (Genesis 50:18-20). 

After everything that Yosef has been through, he realizes where everything comes from and that even if we don't understand why we go through certain things, G-d knows what he is doing! He reassures the brothers and tells them not to worry because G-d makes everything happen even though we are not privy to the why's about it!

We go through life making decisions while everything is being orchestrated above. We have free will and are not robots but our actions are guided from above and we just put things into motion. We certainly can make mistakes and there will be repercussions for our actions.

One of the essential tenets of Judaism is Hashgacha Pratis (Divine Providence) whereby G-d runs the world and interferes in history. Since we have no Temple today, G-d's ways are truly hidden and it is very difficult if not impossible to try and fathom why He does what He does. We often also don't understand how things we do turn out the way it does but if G-d is truly good, then everything has a purpose which one day we will merit to truly understand.

The way we know that G-d interferes in history and has a role guiding it is because the mitzvah to believe in G-d is from the first of the 10 commandments. "I am the L-rd your G-d who took you out o of the land of Egypt" shows just that role. The commentators ask why we don't learn it out from the fact that G-d created the world. After all, that would seem to be a greater proof.

The reason is that no one was there to witness it. When the Jews came out of Egypt there were 600,000 men not including women and children who witnessed the miracles of the plagues. That means with women and children there were over 3,000,000 people altogether who could give testimony as to G-d's role in what happened. Pretty amazing!

Not only that but this has been passed down through all future generations based on the mitzvos we keep because of coming out of Egypt. All the laws of Passover come from the deliverance from Egypt, the whole evening service we pray, the last paragraph of the many things attached to one event in history!

Even though it seems that enslavement to the Egyptians was a bad thing (considering according to some opinions 80% of the Jewish did not come out of Egypt) nonetheless we received the Torah as a result! Nothing short of incredible. This is just a mere example of looking into things where we see G-d's role but in many ways it is unfathomable to us unless we are able to see the whole picture!

This is a lesson for our everyday life being able to see where we have been and what has led us to where we are now. We don't always have the answers to the important why question but there is that guiding hand always!

Shabbat Shalom

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 5 Mishna 26: No Pain no Gain!

"Ben He-He said: According to the effort is the reward"

Isn't true that anything that comes easy probably isn't worth it? Here the Mishna tells us that we will reap the benefits of our actions by putting maximum effort into something. It can't be with that type of effort we will come out on the short end of the stick.

If that is true regarding physical things then it must be true for spiritual things as well. After all, if our goal in this world is to be close to G-d, the more obstacles thrown our way to keep his commandments should be commensurate with the reward that we will receive. After all, if we keep mitzvos that are hard to do, won't the reward be that much greater?

The reality is that with everything that we do, we want to put our best foot forward and succeed. We may not always reach our goals but that doesn't mean that we should give up. If we keep plugging away and are vigilant to keep the Torah and its mitzvos at the highest level, then the satisfaction we will receive seems endless!

Imagine in times where it was hard to secure an esrog for Sukkos and at the last second with great herculean effort you acquire that precious esrog! Will he just be happy to fulfill the mitzvah or will he be jumping out of his skin in exhilaration for what has transpired. In spiritual terms we can see this in other ways as well.

If a person has a problem with cursing for example and make a concerted effort to combat this, can we imagine what joy they will have when they feel like cursing and they don't? They may have worked for days and months on this and then the opportunity occurs to put it into practice.

They are busy building their sukkah and all of a sudden a strong hammer blow comes to ones finger and although they are hurt and in pain, guess what, not one curse word comes out! The effort has paid off to the extent that they have actualized what they learned. Obviously easier said than do but this is what the Mishna is speaking about.

Putting great effort into our actions and then reaping the benefits of our actions is what we are speaking of here. This doesn't mean that we don't have setbacks and trials and tribulations but rather we will revel in the fact that we have beaten our adversary the yetzer hara at this time and we will witness that our hard work paid off!

We have a tremendous amount of joy and satisfaction knowing that we have tried hard and persevered. When we do this it gives us strength to continue other actions in this way as well which will give us tremendous enjoyment of what we are able to accomplish!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Parshas Vayigash: The path to Jewish Continuity

"And he sent Yehuda before him to Yosef to show the way before him to Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen" (Genesis 46:28)

Why is Yehuda sent to Goshen? The commentaries explain that the reason is so that he would be able to set up an educational infrastructure which would be ready when the rest of the people would come down there. This is important because before a Jew moves into a community they have to see what the presence is of the Jews that live there.

 Are there synagogues, mikvas, schools for their children? When this is not done, then it takes quite a bit of time to set up. We see this by what happened to the Jews that came to the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century. There was no infrastructure set up and it took many years for all that to be established. The results were catastrophic as it led many to shed their Judaism while at the same time giving their children a second rate Jewish education (if you can even call it that) which resulted in rampant assimilation and intermarriage.

Although they were fleeing from religious persecution when they were in Europe and people were running away from Judaism even there, nonetheless when they got to the US which had nothing set up for the the thousands coming, the end result was an utter disaster!

This is the reason that Yaakov sent Yehudah to Goshen and a lesson for all future generations. There is nothing more important than belonging to a Jewish community that is flourishing with a proper system that will result in successfully passing down that great heritage to the future generations! This is the reason as well that a convert to Judaism has to live in a viable Jewish community that has synagogues and schools for their children. The reason is that a Jew cannot live on their own island without any other Jews around them.

Many in the process of conversion, once they find out that they will have to move to a Jewish community feel that it is not fair. After everything they have given up, now they have to move as well? Certainly not an easy situation but how else will a person know how to keep Torah and mitzvos if they are not part of a place that has a thriving Jewish community?

The Rambam in the laws of Repentance goes even further and says that a Jew who separates himself from the community will have it very difficult if they want to do teshuvah (repent). That means even if they live in a Jewish community but has nothing to do with it, that is also bad. This again shows the importance of being part of the Jewish people by living where they are We can't do things on our own and need a community so that we can be the best Jews!

The single biggest threat to assimilation today is lack of education. This is why this is so crucial  While the Jewish people have been subjected to anti-semitism, pogroms...they are wiping themselves spiritually off the map because of rampant assimilation and intermarriage.

May we all merit to learn Torah, be Torah educated which is the essence of Jewish continuity.

Shabbat Shalom

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 5 Mishna 25: The Torah is not Obsolete!

"Ben Bag Bag said: "Study Torah again and again, for everything is contained in it; constantly examine it, grow old and gray over it, and swerve not from it, for there is nothing more excellent than it"

The Mishna seems obvious here. Don't we already know how much effort it takes to learn Torah? Isn't the only way to grasp it properly is to constantly review, do some more review and then review again some more? What is the novelty here that the Mishna is trying to teach us?

The Chida explains that as we saw from the previous Mishna, a person will be learning Torah from a very young age, learning Chumash, then Mishna, then Gemara... That being the case, they will think that when they get older they will have already "learned" Torah so they can study other things like philosophy, the arts...This is definitely not the case!

The Torah is limitless in its understanding and depth and it is foolish to think that after studying it for years that we have mastered it! Even the greatest scholars find new things in the Torah that they learn, continually striving and making innovations in their learning! Obviously this is easier said than done!

If you have someone who has learned a particular tractate of Talmud many many times, the novelty is that when they learn it again, they look at it as if they have never seen it and work their way through. This is truly amazing when we think about it because the reality is that you have built up ideas over the years and have thought and rethought them and now you look at everything as a clean slate starting from scratch? This is amazing but that is the power of Torah!

One example is after Simchas Torah we start the Chumash from the beginning of Genesis. Don't we know about creation and the story of the flood...about Avraham, the binding of Isaac...Yes we do but there are so many levels a person can learn at that the Torah always looks fresh and we always have something to gain. We also based on our learning, understanding and life experience look at these parshiot differently year to year!

Torah is something that is difficult to grasp and takes a great deal of time understanding it's precepts. This is why regardless of how much you have learned when you were younger, you will learn it at a totally different depth when you are older!

The Mishna also tells us that there is nothing greater than the learning Torah. Some may say that there is also other wisdom out there so how can we be prejudiced and only learn Torah? The answer is that Torah is the only thing that stands the test of time when it comes to its teachings and morality. There is nothing else out there in the world that addresses all issues that a person will possibly go through in their lifetime.

It is as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago; we just have to know how to tap into it and make it a part of our lives! The reality is that since we live in such a high tech ever changing world, we need G-d today more than ever! We see a world that has taken G-d out of the picture and has tried to make athiests out of all of us.

This is what the Greeks have left for us, trying to show that what we can't understand must mean that it isn't true. They also gave us a world that is saturated with the worship of the body and going after our own desires. As Torah continues to stand the test of time, we have utilize it to the best of our ability and continue implementing its timely messages!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Parshas Miketz: G-d is Orchestrating our Lives!

"And Yosef saw his brethren and he knew them but made himself strange to them and spoke roughly to them to buy food; and he said tho them, 'Where do you come from? And they said From the land of Canaan to buy food" (Genesis 42:7)

When the brothers come to Egypt to get food, Yosef instantly recognizes them although the brothers don't recognize him. He then speaks to them in a gruff manner accusing them of being spies. If Yosef is so righteous, why does he go to great lengths to accuse of them of being spies and causing more anguish to his father Yaakov?

The dreams that Yosef had are a form of prophesy and if a prophet has prophecy he has to give it over even if it puts their life in danger. They also have to get the message right or they forfeit their life! Not so easy to be a prophet!

These prophecies have to be actualized and Yosef has to put the brothers on a course of action to make that happen and this is part of the reason they have to go through this. The main reason though is because Yosef wants to make sure that they have uprooted their bad character traits and have fully repented for their actions.

We see this when they have received their money back while they are at the inn on the way back to the land of Israel. They realize that all the actions that have occurred are a result of how they treated Yosef. Up until this point, though, how could they have not realized what they had done was wrong? After all, they acted within the laws of the Torah and showed mercy to Yosef by not killing him, they merely sold him!

The answer is that although according to the Torah they were justified in what they did, they still acted in a cruel way. For them to truly repent, Yosef had to make sure and put them through this trial even though it caused more anguish to his father. The whole ploy was also a way to get his father down to Egypt so that the future Jewish people would be redeemed!

What an amazing thing! On the one hand, Yosef is working on the character traits of his brothers while at the same time looking towards the future of the Jewish people. As we can see and have seen throughout the book of Genesis there are multiple layers of things going on that we cannot even begin to fathom.

We will see in next week's parsha that Yosef will say that he has no hard feelings towards his brothers because everything was orchestrated by G-d Himself! This is the lesson we have to take for ourselves. Whatever happens in our lives is really orchestrated by G-d and we are put in certain situations to see how we will react and rise to the occasion to reach our true potential! If we would live our lives with this in mind, we would look different and become great spiritual people!

Shabbat Shalom

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 5 Mishna 24: Preparing our Life in this world!

"He used to say: A five year old begins Scripture; a ten year old begins Mishna; a thirteen year old becomes obliged to observe the commandments; a fifteen year old begins the study of Gemara; an eighteen year old goes to the marriage canopy; a twenty year old begins pursuit of a livelihood; a thirty year old attains full strength; a forty year old attains understanding; a fifty year old can offer counsel; a sixty ear old attains seniority; a seventy year old attains a ripe old age; an eighty year old shows strength; a ninety year old becomes stooped over; a hundred year old is as if he were dead, passed away and ceased from the world". 

A parent has an obligation to educate his children even from a very young age. When they first begin to speak they teach him the verse "Torah tziva lanu Moshe" (and the Torah commanded us to do...through Moshe). Even if the child doesn't understand what that means we are teaching him the importance about Torah and mitzvah observance because G-d commanded Moshe and gave us the Torah. This is important because we want to start our children when they first learn to speak to say words of Torah and show them how precious it is.

At the age of ten a child should be learning Mishna. In fact today, kids start learning Mishna earlier than that. They start off with Chumash (the Bible) and then go on to learn the Mishna which is a commentary on the Bible. This gives them the foundation to learn further i.e. Gemara which is a commentary on the Mishna and the subsequent commentaries as well. That continues through bar mitzvah where the child will develop his learning skills further as he gets older.

Fifteen is the latest one should start learning Gemara. There is a school of thought to go through all the Chumash and Mishna and constantly review until this age so that they have mastered it and then start the learning of Gemara. Since they have that other knowledge under their belt, it will make learning Gemara easier. Many do not hold this way as the teaching of Gemara begins even before bar mitzvah!

The Mishna then tells us at 18 a person should be married. In some circles that is practiced even by men but most wait until they 21, 22 before they start the dating process since they are more mature (or at least should be) by that age. Women get married younger, usually starting to date at about 19 but some even younger than that. They are mature already at that age and have been prepared for this their whole lives.

Some may feel that they have to already have a career and other life experience but it seems clear that the longer a person waits, the more difficult it is to get married.  A person is more set in their ways as they get older which makes the dating process more difficult. Being older in this case is not better but the reality is that the longer time goes by the more demands they may have on what they are looking for!

At the age of 20, a person should focus on Torah and running after it to be the best he can be. If he is indeed married at 18, then he would have to focus on what to do for a livelihood which will help support his family and learn Torah as well. The best livelihood a person can find would be one where they could utilize their time for studying Torah. This means that we should look for a livelihood that doesn't have as many hours so that the rest of the time can be put to Torah learning. Obviously easier said than done!

At the age of thirty a person has strength which doesn't diminish. We learn this out from the Levites who started serving in the Temple at the age of thirty. They needed strength to be able to do the many things that were required in the Temple and this is why the Mishna mentions the idea of strength here.

A person reaches true understanding at the age of 40. He has spent many years toiling in Torah and now has a broad enough knowledge that he has understanding of what it is all about. It comes with maturity and a desire for truth which leads him this way.

At the age of 50 a person has the ability to give advice to others. The reason is that they have learned for many years and now they have the knowledge and life experience to counsel others. Obviously it can only be that individual steeped in Torah that is able to do this

A sixty year old reaches seniority which means they understand that their time in this world is limited and soon they will no longer be here. It is at this time that people have to really take stock in their lives and how they are living as they will soon have to answer to the King of Kings for what they have done in this world!

When a person is in their 70's and 80's, they realize that they are closer to grave! King David says in Psalms that a person's life is only 70 years in this world and if he has strength he will be last 80 years. We see this clearly as the body starts to decay. The focus of a person's life at this stage should be to strengthen themselves in learning and sincerely repent for any wrongdoing they may have done!

A person that reaches 90 must realize that although they are alive, it is as if they have one foot in the grave. They have to make the most of the lives at this stage that G-d has given them and pursue Torah knowledge because tomorrow they may not be here.

When a person hits the age of 100 it is as if he is not in the world anymore. He has certainly been granted long life by G-d but at this stage we don't value him as being in this world. Most people do not live this long so by the time a person reaches this stage, it is as if they are no longer here.

We see from this Mishna the importance of different stages of our lives and how we should look at them! This world is about preparation for the next world and the stages in which to get there!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Parshas Vayeshev: We are not hear for Popularity!

"And Yosef dreamed a dream and he told it to his brethren and they hated him yet the more" (Genesis 37:5).

If Yosef already had issues with his brothers, why did he tell them the dreams if he knew that it could potentially put his life in danger? After all, why not forego this and not tell them since it is going to increase their hatred?

These dreams that Yosef had were a form of prophecy and when someone has a prophecy they have an obligation to tell it over even if that will put their life in danger. Not only that, but a prophet having this vision has to give over the correct meaning of it and if he doesn't he is liable for the death penalty. It is tough to be a prophet!

This is the issue that Yona had when he didn't want to give over the prophecy to the people of Nineveh. Even though he tried to hide so to speak G-d came to him again emphasizing that he had to go and tell the people of Nineveh what He told him. From here we see an interesting idea,

On the one hand we see the importance of giving over the right message even if that meant possibly putting your own life in danger. We also learn that sometimes even if we feel uncomfortable we have to protest some things to show G-d that we don't approve. We have to know when and where to do this but why is it important?

Sometimes we will see something that goes against what G-d wants from us and we can't just sit around and watch a desecration of G-d's name. This means even if we don't think that what we are doing has any consequences, nonetheless we don't want to be held accountable in the next world!

Why would we be held accountable? The reason is that we didn't think it was that problematic and it is as if we see that there is nothing wrong with it! Is this really true? Does G-d want us to seemingly complain when people aren't going to listen?

First of all, we don't know that people won't listen. It will depend how we do it but at the same time, we have to show that this is not an ownerless world where what we do doesn't matter and that G-d forbid He is not around or doesn't care! By taking a stand, we are showing that there is judgment and there is a true Judge! If not, we could be held responsible and it will look like we agree with this!

Although this may be far from our reality, we have to ask ourselves, when we see Jews who don't keep shabbos drive by us on Shabbos, does it bother us or do we just chalk it up to their ignorance about the important of this holy day? If it doesn't bother us at all then we have some real spiritual issues that need to be worked on! We have to look inward to try and understand what we may be lacking in.

We also have to realize that even if no one is going to listen we still have a obligation (depending on the circumstances) to show that we disapprove of what is happening around us. As one person told me when that they went to a siblings intermarriage under protest. Under protest? How was the protest shown if they were actually there? The greatest protest that could have been made would to not have gone! By going under "protest" you are actually showing that you approve and that could not be further from the truth!

We sometimes have to make unpopular decisions but better to look stupid in the eyes of man than uncaring about Torah in the eyes of G-d!

Shabbat Shalom

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 5 Mishna 23: Serving G-d Properly and not Blaming others for our Actions

"Yehudah ben Tema said: 'Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and strong as a lion, to do the will of your Father who is in heaven. He used to say: The impudent is destined for gehinnom but the shamefaced is destined for paradise'". 

All these character traits are important so that one will be able to do the will of their Creator. One who for example is swift as a deer runs to do mitzvos and is constantly aware of his obligations in this world. He wants to do the right thing and will do whatever it takes to do so.

This is an important character trait to have because they are acting on their desire to serve G-d properly. Although we may have this desire, we sometimes get distracted and don't do what we need to The yetzer hara (evil inclination) works hard at keeping us busy with other things so that we focus less on Torah and mitzos!!

This is why we also have to be as strong as a lion. We need to put all our effort in keeping the Torah and doing G-d's will and work hard to stay at that level! It also means that we have to keep our bodies strong and in good shape so we can accomplish these goals. If a person is not healthy or doesn't keep a healthy lifestyle then that will hinder a person in reaching their potential because they will be incapable of doing so.

Even if in our mind we know what the right thing is, we have to put that into our hearts so we can actualize it. It cannot be emphasized enough that we need to have this desire on a daily basis so we can serve Him to the best of our ability. Through perseverance and hard work we will reach this goal!

The next part of the Mishna speaks about people that are brazen who end up in gehinnom. The commentaries tell us a person is brazen because they come from a forbidden union. Either the child was conceived through an adulterous union or where the parents did not keep the marital purity laws. Even a person who comes from such unions, is there no way to break out of this or does this follow them their whole lives?

Although Freud is not so in vogue today Judaism believes that even if one has a certain disposition whether they are born with it or for other reasons, they don't have to act on it. In other words, if a person's father was a killer and his father was a killer does not mean the grandson has to be one! Even if there is a hereditary, it is just something else a person has to work on,

They may have that disposition but we are obligated to work on bad character traits even if we may have inherited them. This means that no matter what we do we have to take responsibility for our actions regards as to what the cause of them may be. This is a tremendous lesson for us to remember!

We can't blame others for our socioeconomic circumstances; we have to take responsibility for our actions. This means that even if we have certain bad character traits that may have been inherited from our parents, we have to work hard to rectify them and not go in that direction. Although that may be difficult, this is the path that G-d has given us to reach the potential we all have!