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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, September 17, 2015

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 5 Mishna 14: The Repentance Process in the Eyes of G-d and Man

"There are four kinds of dispositions: Easy to become angry and easy to be pacified, his loss is compensated by his gain; hard to become angry and hard to be pacified, his gain is offset by his loss; hard to become angry and easy to be pacified is godly; easy to become angry and hard to be pacified is wicked".

The Mishna discusses the benefits and weakness of anger and pacification. Anger is one of the worst character traits a person can have and the Talmud tells us that when a person is angry even if they were standing over the pit of gehinom (hell) they wouldn't repent because they are caught up in the moment and lose themselves.

Obviously it is forbidden to be angry but there are times when something happens and a person is caught off guard that they lose it in some way. The Mishna here tells us that even if this happens some times but not often if a person is hard to be pacified then his gain is offset by his loss. Pacification is something we all need to learn and not to stand on principle.

This is much easier said than done because if someone has wronged us in any way, most often we will not forgive them fully and the relationship has totally changed. This is a major difference between man and G-d and how the entire teshuva (repentance) process works.

Before Yom Kippur, a Jew is obligated to forgive immediately for the wrong that someone may have done to them. The Talmud tells us that we should forgive that person immediately because if we look past what someone has done to us then G-d will look past at what we have done against Him throughout the year. How does this work exactly?

When we ask forgiveness from someone we don't say "well I did this and that to you, do you forgive me?" That most likely could get you a well deserved punch in the nose. What a person should do is to tell them that if you have done anything against them, will they forgive you and they should immediately forgive you because if they don't then you could end up bearing a grudge and taking that transgression with you into Yom Kippur which is something you don't want to do.

G-d gave the Jewish people this novel idea of teshuvah but in reality it should never work for a number of reasons. First of all, if someone has wronged us and they try to make amends how can we truly forgive them? After all, look at the damage that has been done; the relationship is never the same. At the same time we should forgive them but that doesn't mean I have to be best friends; it just means that I can't hold a grudge which isn't a good thing either.

As for our relationship between man and man repentance and uprooting what has been done doesn't set the relationship back to where it once was. When we sin against G-d on the other hand, our sincere repentance not only uproots what we have done but we are even closer to G-d afterwards.

This is truly remarkable because when we transgress against what G-d wants us to do, we draw a wedge between us and Him. We pollute the universe spiritually and physically. Even if we do things wrong over and over and over again, if we repent, G-d looks at us as not only with a clean slate but we are even closer to Him. How does this work?

G-d understands the nature of man and the fact that they were created from the ground and from this world they will sometimes give in to their evil inclination. This is nothing more than rebellion against Him whether we do things on purpose or by accident. At the same time He has a tremendous amount of patience and allows us to come back to Him by admitting what we did was wrong and how we are going to fix our ways.

We could understand this by someone who only transgresses some of the time. In reality we all transgress and after the first number of times G-d can so-to-speak cut us some heavenly slack but after the 10th, 11th. 12th time...why should He not react and allow us to come back to Him and wipe the slate clean and uproot what we have done totally?

The reason is because He is G-d and not man. He lives and acts in ways that we cannot begin to fathom and the miracle of teshuvah is that if we admit what we have done wrong and sincerely want to draw close to Him He grants us that. Nothing short of miraculous because in human terms this doesn't exist.

How many second chances is a person going to give someone after they habitually do things against them? This is the hope and prayer we have at this time before Yom Kippur to remember G-d's infinite mercy. At the same time, though if we have wronged someone else we should ask their forgiveness and grant it to others as well, immediately!