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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 5, 2013

Ethics of Our Fathers: Chapter 2 Mishna 5: Be careful what you say and use your time wisely

"Hillel said, 'Do not separate yourself from the community; be not sure of yourself until the day of your death; do not judge your fellow man until you have been in his position; do not say anything that cannot be understood at once, in the hope in the hope that it will ultimately it will be understood; and do not say 'When I shall have leisure time I will study,' for you may never have leisure time"

The first part of the Mishna tells us that one shouldn't separate themselves from the community. Rav Ovadia Bartenura explains that the reason is because if one does not join the community and share in its suffering then they themselves will not be comforted at their time of sorrow. This means that one aspect of the community is to share and help when others suffer whereby it helps to soften the blow so-to-speak when others display solidarity.

The Rambam in the hilchos teshuvah (laws of repentance) tells us that this is one of the 24 things that stop a person from doing teshuvah. The reason is because if one is separates themselves from the community it shows that they only care about themselves. When one is self-centered and thinks everything is coming to him, then why should they do teshuvah?

The next part of the Mishna explains that man can never rely on themselves. The reason is because we all have evil inclinations and it can sometimes overpower us to act in a way that is against what the Torah wants for us. If we look at Yochanan the High Priest, even though he served in the Temple for 80 years, at the end of his life he became a heretic.

This is hard to understand at many levels. Someone so righteous, serving in the Temple can end up a heretic? This is exactly what the Mishna here states. Never rely on what I did yesterday. Today is a new day to grow and fight against my evil inclination. It is a constant battle that doesn't end. Relying on what we previously did may still not help us!

The next part of the Mishna tells us that we cannot hastily judge someone until we have been in their shoes. This means that if we see someone fail at a certain trial or tribulation that they may have, we are not allowed to cast judgement because we don't know what they are going through. Many are quick to judge without knowing the whole story!

Even though it is easy to condemn someone for their actions we have to consider the circumstances under which something was done. Although it does not condone the wrong action done, nonetheless it gives us awareness and helps us to show compassion for others.

The next part of the Mishna tells us that we should be careful in what we say to people. The intention is that what we say should be clear and understood lest someone misinterpret and make a mistake. How applicable this is today!

There are many times that we may give someone directions or advice but they are not clear. Often this will lead to a misunderstanding that could cause disastrous results. When speaking to someone we must be so careful what we say and how we say it. Clarity speaks millions!

The last part of the Mishna tells us that we have to use everyday to try and reach our true potential. We shouldn't say that I will learn when I have time or when I get around to it because we may never have the time. We have all kinds of obligations that need to be met so we need to use our time wisely.

This is why it is so important to have fixed times for learning Torah every day. These times have to be cut in stone so that nothing deters us. When we are steadfast in what we do we gain a lot and teach others the importance as well. When our children know that at certain times there father is learning and they are not allowed to disturb it shows the tremendous importance of what learning is all about!