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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, November 6, 2014

Ethics of Our Fathers: Chapter 4 Mishna 1: Subduing our Desires

"Ben Zoma says, 'Who is wise? He who learns from every person as it is said: 'From all my teachers I grew wise.' Who is strong? He who subdues his personal inclination, as it is said: 'He who is slow to anger is better than the strong man, and a master of his passions is better than a conqueror of a city.' Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot, as it is said: 'When you eat of the labor of yoru hands, you are praiseworthy and all is well with you.' You are praiseworthy' - in this world; 'and all is well with you' - in the World to Come. Who is honored? He who honors others, as it is said: "For those who honor Me I will honor, and those who scorn Me shall be degraded.'

The first part of the Mishna tells us that someone is wise if they learn from every person. Wisdom, the Rabbenu Yona tells us if it is desired and loved, a person may not attain it per se, but he is still called wise. Why should this be the case?

The reason is because if a person wants to expand their knowledge, it can lead them to fear of G-d. This may not always happen but since one has the right desire to do so, he will gain more knowledge. This will lead that individual to the realization that they are really insignificant in the bigger scheme of things of how the world is run which will make them humble.

Another aspect of this idea is that a person may have a big ego because of what and how much they know and refuse to listen to the ideas of those not at their level. The Mishna here teaches us that we can learn from all people and add to our wisdom. When a person humbles themselves and envelops this idea, they begin the path in reaching wisdom!

The next part of the Mishna tells us that the really strong individuals are the ones who can conquer their evil inclination. Physical strength is limited because as a person ages, his vigor and power diminish.

Real strength is the ability to overcome the evil inclination because it never ceases to trap a person to do things that they shouldn't. It works 24/7 figuring out different ways to trap a person. We are given the evil inclination so that we can work on overcoming it and mastering the physical world.

This is easier said than done because most people just act at what is thrown their way without thinking. They are subjected to societies' whims and submit to its influence. The real power is working on their character development and not being slaves to themselves!

The next part of the Mishna speaks about the one who is rich. Someone who has lots of money and assets works very hard to make sure they will stay intact for years on end so they can live the lifestyle they are accustomed to. The question though is: how many rich people do we know that are really happy?

They spend their days and nights worrying about keeping ahead without losing what they have worked so hard for. The Mishna here points out that it doesn't matter how much money or property we have but are we happy with what G-d has given us?

Having more certainly doesn't insure happiness. Whether we have a little or a lot or just get by, we have to realize that everything comes from G-d and we need to appreciate it. Many will say it is easier to appreciate what we have when we have a lot. Even the little that we have can make us grateful as well!

These are eternal lessons of how we have to deal with the secular world while keeping our values strong. We don't capitulate to our surroundings and make every effort to strive and become the great people that we can be.