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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 18, 2014

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 4: Mishna 7: Use the Torah Appropriately

"Rabbi Tzadok said, 'Do not make of the Torah a crown wherewith to magnify yourself, nor a spade wherewith to dig. Hillel used to say, 'He who makes unworthy use of the crown of Torah shall perish'. So whoever makes selfish use of the Torah, takes his own life'.

The first part of the Mishna explains that we are not allowed to use our Torah learning for the sake of receiving honor! The purpose of learning Torah is to make us better people so that we can internalize and live according to its ways.

There is another Mishin in Ethics of our Fathers that explains how a person can never be haughty if they learned a lot of Torah because that is what you created to do in the first place! What would be the point of trying to receive honor for something that you have an obligation to do anyway?

The Torah in reality should make us humble as the more we learn, the more we understand how much we don't know which makes us feel quite small! This leads us to the next part of the Mishna which tells us that we are not allowed to derive benefit for learning Torah.

This is hard to understand because aren't there people who charge for the classes they give? What about rabbis who teach children, why according to this would they not be allowed to get a salary for their work?

The Talmud tells us that when it comes to a rabbi teaching children, he is not getting paid for his teaching but rather the fact that he is getting to paid to watch over them so that they don't cause damage to others. Even if he is teaching them, the main part of his salary is keeping them orderly!

Today people are paid to learn Torah or to teach like in anything other profession. The idea here is that getting paid for teaching or giving classes helps that person continue learning and inspiring others. This could be why that it is not such a lucrative field because if it was then people would have ulterior motives and it would not be the pure Torah that would help others.

The last part of the Mishna tells us the severity of what could happen to a person if they misuse the crown the Torah. This means that even to save one's life, if one could have done it in another way and they used Torah to save themselves, they are held liable. The reason is that they could have done something else to save themselves.

This is showing misappropriation in the usage of Torah. If a person is in a life and death situation then they can do whatever they can to save themselves. The question is if they used Torah to save themselves when they could have used a different medium.

This is why it is as if they have forfeited their life. They have taken something so precious and misused it. The Torah is something so important and life altering that we are not allowed to just use it for what we want. We have to honor it and give it the respect it deserves!