About Me

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, October 23, 2014

Ethics of Our Fathers: Chapter 3 Mishna 22: Actions vs Widsom

"He used to say, 'One whose wisdom exceeds his deeds, to what is he like? To a tree that has many branches and few roots, so that when the wind comes, it plucks it up and turns it over, as it is said, 'And he shall be like a lonely tree in the desert, and shall not see the coming of the good; he shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, a salt land and uninhabited'. But one whose deeds exceed his wisdom, to what is he like? To a tree that has few branches and many roots , so that even if all the winds in the world come and blow upon it, they cannot move it out of its place, as it is said, 'And he shall be like a tree planted by waters that spreads out its roots beside a stream; it sees not the coming of the heat, and its leaves are ever green; in a year of drought it is not troubled, and ceases not to bear fruit'.

The Mishna here teaches us the fundamental principle that knowledge by itself will not last and make a person a moral individual. The reason is because knowledge doesn't necessarily change a person.

If a person learns something which they feel will have no impact on their lives, what is it worth? Torah is about taking action. Learning Torah teaches us what is permissible and forbidden. They are not lessons just for the sake of learning ie like mathematics; they are principles for a meaningful life.

The first book of the Torah tells us about the roots of history and the character traits of our ancestors. It goes into great detail about the actions of these incredible people which have made a lasting impression throughout the generations. One may mistakenly look at these "stories" as just that, describing our historical roots.

This is tragic. Noach, for example gave us the ability thousands of years later to have the strength to fight against our environment and become great people despite who are neighbors may be. After all, he and his family were the only ones that survived the flood!

We have seen through the generations the "greatest, most intelligent people" who were immoral and outright cruel. How do we explain that the doctors, lawyers and academics were the first ones to join Hitler's third Reich and believed in his doctrine to wipe out the Jews.

Did they really believe that treating animals properly was better than treating a Jew as if to Jews weren't even human and deserved everything that they received? This is where education and wisdom left to its own elements cannot produce moral individuals.

If it is not harnessed properly and given the right values then wisdom can only take a person so far. The famous example of this is with Bertram Russel, the famed university teacher of ethics. When one of his students asked him how he could teach ethics and be unethical, his response was "if I would teach mathematics you would expect me to be a square"?

Our actions and what is behind them is what matters. A person could perform a mitzvah with all the kabblastic intentions and receive unbelievable merit for what he has done while at the same time, a simple Jew could do the same mitzvah and also receive great merit.

The more we learn, the more we understand our limitations and the great responsibility we have to serve G-d properly. This will in turn give us true wisdom which allows us to control our desires and do the mitzvos properly!