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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, January 14, 2016

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 6 Mishna 3: Respect for those that have taught us

"He who learns from his fellowman a single chapter, a single halachah, a single verse, a single Torah statement or even a single letter, must treat him with honor. For this we find in the case of David, King of Israel, who learned nothing from Achitophel except for two things, yet called him his teacher, his guide, his intimate, as it is said: 'You are a man of my measure, my guide and my intimate. One can derive from this the following: If David King of Israel who learned nothing from Achitophel except for two things, called him his teacher, his guide, his intimate one who learns from his fellowman a single chapter, a single halacha, a single verse, a single statement, or even a single letter, how much more must he treat him with honor! And honor is due only for Torah as it is aid, 'The wise shall inherit honor...' and the perfect shall inherit good. And only Torah is truly good, as it is said, 'I have given you a good teaching, do not forsake My Torah'". 

This Mishna teaches us the importance of showing respect to our teachers even if they only taught us one verse of Torah or even one letter all the more so if they taught us more! The reason is very simple: we have to show gratitude to those that gave us the ability to understand and know His knowledge! For that alone, don't they deserve honor?

We see today more than ever how much teachers and rabbis are castigated for what they do. They could have years of success bringing others closer to Torah while at the same time having detractors trying to cause them harm. A rabbi who doesn't have people striving against him is not a rabbi! This will ultimately make the person work harder to achieve their goals. Why though, if these people are trying hard to educate others, why should they have enemies?

The answer is that many times they may speak about a topic or give over information that for some people is hard to hear.and they will fight tooth and nail against them because they don't want to hear the truth. While that may be true, it does not give anyone the right to chastise the rabbi or speak out against him.

There are laws of lashon hara (speaking badly about others) that we all have to know and review. There are times that it is permitted to speak out against someone if that person for example is causing others to go astray or not keep the Torah and there are times that we should be quiet. Most people are not aware that even if something is in the news and it is true it is still lashon hara!

We are quick to make accusations and give our opinions when we don't even know what the facts are! Haven't we regretted things we have said because of a knee-jerk reaction? That also can happen but the reality of the situation is that even before we know what has "truly" happened we are judge and jury!

What if the person is a Torah scholar? After all, if he has taught us something, even one thing as the Mishna tells us don't we have to show them honor? Shouldn't they be given the benefit of the doubt before they are sacrificed by the social media? Unless the person is a heretic (which has specific guidelines as to what one is) is it permissible in any way to destroy them after all the good that they have done?

If we only learned this Mishna and nothing else, then that would tell us how careful we must be when we speak about our religious leaders. The Vilna Gaon stood for the rebbe that taught him the alef - beis because that knowledge allowed him to begin to learn Torah! If the Vilna Gaon had that much respect for the one who taught him that, then we should have as much if not ore respect to those teachers that have taught us!