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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 20, 2014

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 4 Mishna 3: Our Actions Matter

"He used to say: 'Do not despise any man, and do not consider anything as impossible; for there is not a man who does not have his hour, and there is not a thing that does not have its place'".

The first part of the Mishna should be obvious that a person is not allowed to despise anyone else. It is forbidden to look down upon someone, even if they feel justified in doing so.

Maybe that person wronged us or caused us damage in some way thereby making them despised in our eyes. The Mishna, though gives us a different reason for this. The Mishna tells us the reason we are not allowed to do this is because we shouldn't think that this person in the future could not possibly damage us because there is a no person who does not his hour.

What is the meaning of this? There is no person that is always down suffering. They have ups and downs which test a person. Therefore if we despise someone and look down upon them, who is to say that they can't effect us negatively in the future.

After all, we may actually need that person in the future. There are countless stories of someone helping another person when they were younger and then at some point, the one that helped that person needed their help in the future. Had they not been gracious enough to help them in the past, they would have surely suffered that future event.

Everything is calculated from above even to a hair's breadth. We don't always see it or understand but there is definitely irony in everyday life. Sometimes the most miniscule event in our lives have ramifications for the future which we are not even aware of!

The problem is that we don't see the value of our actions or think that they matter. We sometimes are able to see and get glimpses of what happens in our lives and how things are intertwined. Although that doesn't happen all that often, nonetheless when we do see it, we need to take stock of it and internalize the message.

Rav Chaim of Volozhin, the famed student of the Vilna Gaon brings down this idea in his epic work Nefesh HaChaim. He tells us that a person should never think what they do is meaningless. We have the ability to change the world with our actions, either for better or worse.

The Rambam tells us that we should look at the world like a big scale that is teetering to either side and our action right now will make the scale in either direction. This shows how important our actions are and what they are capable of doing!


Elliott said...

I recently had kind of an exegetical breakthrough, not sure if its been said before, but my usual teacher is busy at the moment or something, and it relates to what this post, as old as it might be.

Elliott said...

Its like this:

the mitzvot of "you will not mistreat an Egyptian, you were a stranger in his land", and "you will not abhor an Edomite, for her is your brother" seem anachronistic in this day and age, but Torah never says commands anything of no value, right? So how can we take it?

Well, who were the Egyptians? The Torah and rabbis tell us they were a culture of idolaters and sorcerers. Both idolatry and sorcery bespeak of spiritual confusion and falsehood, and everyone has gone through this, and most will continue to go through it, and thus "you were a stranger in his land". Its telling us not to mistreat or wrong people who are of different (false) religions, or people who are superstitious, small minded (mizraim, after all) or practice questionable moral and spiritual philosophies, since we've all been there at some point.

And who were Edomites? Descendants of Esau, but who was Esau? A hunter, a warrior, a hedonist, a glutton, a hot head, prone to violence and bloodshed. Of them it says "he is your brother". How? Everyone gets mad, everyone wants to kill, everyone is fascinated by death, destruction, and conflict, whether they want to admit it or not, everyone wants to binge on good food, good sex, and easy times. Torah says not to overtly despise such people who are captive y their baser selves, because we are every bit like them.

Just a theory, please let me know what you think.