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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.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ethics of Our Fathers Chapter 2 Mishna 2: Don't Sell out the Family for the Sake of the Community

"Rabban Gamliel, the son of Rabbi Yehuda Ha'Nasi said, 'It is well to combine Torah study with some worldly occupation, for the energy taken up by both of them keeps sin out of one's mind; all Torah study which is not combined with some trade must at length fail and occasion sin. Let all who work for the community do so from a spiritual motive, for then the merit of their fathers will sustain them, and their righteousness will endure forever. "I credit you with great reward (G-d says) as if you accomplished it all"

There is a disagreement among the rabbinical authorities what the first part of the Mishnah is talking about. Does it mean that one needs to learn combined with work or that it refers to learning with proper ethical behavior? If we say that it means that one needs to work, there is another Mishnah later Chapter 3 Mishna 22 that tells us that without a livelihood one cannot work.

While this is true, the Mishnah here explains that even if one learns Torah, he should combine it with something that will help him earn a living so that he won't come to sin when there is free time. The reason is that Torah study weakens a person and if a person when not learning does something to help earn a living, he keeps the evil inclination at bay because he is busy all the time.

This aspect of the Mishnah indicates that one must be busy so as to not fall in the clutches of the evil inclination. Even if that means when one is tired and not learning one should work to stay out of trouble.

This leads to the next part of the Mishnah which tells us that one should work for the community for the sake of heaven. The connection is keeping one's self busy while at the same time helping out others. Here we learn that the reason one helps the community is for the sake of helping the community and not for the sake of honor, or to get benefit from it or to have power over others.

There are many people that give to their all to help different aspects of the Jewish community. While this is good and even praiseworthy, one must know how to balance that with their familial responsibilities. As the saying goes, chesed (acts of loving kindness) start at home. A person must work very hard to keep his home structure strong and functional.

This means that even though they help the community-at-large, it doesn't mean every last second must go to that at the expense of their family. At all times, family must come first. This may be obvious but sometimes the goals of the individual cloud the person's thoughts and they end up sacrificing their family in the process.

This is why it is critical to have a rabbi or mentor to guide them in this process. Helping out and working for the community is an amazing mitzvah, but their must be clear boundaries when it comes to family.