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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, February 25, 2016

Parshs Ki Tissa: Breaking Shabbos to Save Someone

"Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, 'Now you speak to the children of Israel saying, 'However you must observe My Sabbaths for it is a sign between Me and you for your generations to know that I am Hashem, who make you holy'" (Exodus 31:13).

The Or HaChaim HaKadosh in his commentary on the Torah learns from this verse that a person is allowed to break shabbos for the sake of a sick person whose life is in danger. The rationale is that you break shabbos for him now so that he will be able to keep shabbos in the future. This means that since his life is in danger now, we do what we can to save him because we know that saving his life will allow him to keep shabbos in the future. What if he doesn't observe shabbos though, is there still an obligation to save him?

Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlit's in Chochmah V'Da'as brings a difference of opinion among the later commentaries whether we are allowed to do such a thing and it hinges on the fact of why they are transgressing the mitzvos if I am allowed to break shabbos.  If they transgress because they are not interested in G-d's law and are rebelling against Him then there would be no obligation to break shabbos to save them. If on the other hand they don't keep shabbos because they were never had a proper Jewish education then it should be allowed to save him. The issue is that even if we look at this person like someone who has not been educated properly at the end of the day they still are not going to keep shabbos so why would I be allowed to break shabbos to save him?

If for example there would be a child that's life is in danger and they live in a city where the majority people are non-Jews, there would still be an obligation to save him because of the command to live by the Torah and not die by it! Even if there is a doubt whether this person is a Jew or not, it seemingly would be important to save them because of this principle even if they won't keep shabbos in the future. There is another opinion that even if the person is truly evil, there is still a mitzvah to save them because maybe in the future they will repent and come back to Torah!

This is truly amazing because we see how far repentance can come for a person. We don't look at who they are per se but rather that by saving them, could change their whole perspective on life! How many times have we heard of people that have been in life threatening situations only to be saved and eventually come back to the fold. This doesn't always happen as the evil inclination doesn't want that, but it happens and awakens a person who could be so far from Torah.

From here we may say that the Torah is cruel G-d forbid.  How could there even be a question if someone's life is in danger that you wouldn't break shabbos to save them? The answer is that we don't understand how important shabbos is. If after all, they won't keep shabbos in the future, that gives me enough of a reason to save them? The answer is that we are allowed to save them but it is really based on a technicality. Not only that but the Torah says that you have to live by it and not die by it.

Therefore the Torah looks at shabbos observance as so vital that if a person doesn't keep it then if there life is in danger on shabbos, why should someone break it to save them? At the same time, we could say that if a person wouldn't do it and others see them walking away from it, that could cause a tremendous desecration of G-d's name and would therefore be permitted, whether it be a Jew or non-Jew.

This has often been misinterpreted and misunderstood by people to quickly retort that the Torah is cruel and backwards G-d forbid and doesn't make any sense. When we delve further and see how deep and important it is, we realize its sweetness and timely message!


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