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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 27, 2014

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 4 Mishna 4: Haughtiness and Hubris is not a Jewish concept!

"Rabbi Levitas of Yavneh said: 'Be exceedingly humble, since the end of man is worms"

The Mishna here is teaching about the importance of being humble to the extent that we should think of what our end will be which will help us do this. After all, how could someone be haughty and pompous when at the end of the day they will go to the grave and be eaten by worms?

The Rambam explains that normally when it comes to character traits we should find a happy medium and take the middle path. For example, if a person wants to be benevolent and give money to charity, they shouldn't give away all their money or they will be broke. Also, a person shouldn't be cruel and overly compassionate as well.

This means that we have to treat others properly but we shouldn't have compassion on people that want to cause us harm. We have an obligation to guard and defend ourselves against those who want to do us harm.

The commentaries here explain, though, when it comes to haughtiness and hubris, we shouldn't take the middle path but go to the opposite extreme and do whatever it takes so that we do possess this bad character trait. It is so bad, that the majority of our sins are attributed to it. If we don't have some level of haughtiness, though does that not make us weak and have low self-esteem?

The answer is that everyone has to have some level of self-esteem but ti should not be at the expense of others. We are not allowed to look down upon people or think we are better based on our social status or pedigree. Like anything, we have to find a middle ground that allows to be productive members of the society without stepping on others or putting them down in the process!

I once asked a great rabbi about boosting the egos of our children and always praising them for their actions. Wouldn't that lead to them to think that they are better than others or lead to haughtiness?

The rabbi answered that we live in a generation today that is so weak that most people don't have proper self-esteem and get walked and stomped on by others. Our praise to our children will make them feel good about themselves and want to strive to reach higher spiritual levels.

We always have to be on our guard and make sure if we are successful at something or get that prestigious job that we exhibit humbleness and realize where it all comes from. Woe to the person that thinks that everything that comes to them is based on the work of their own hands with G-d overseeing their actions and helping them along the way.

Is it really possible to think of our greatness as something positive if at the end of the day we will only go to the grave and be eaten by worms? This is what the Mishna here is telling us. We have to take a nice look in the mirror and see if our actions reflect humbleness or G-d forbid haughtiness and work hard to uproot that bad character trait from our hearts!