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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, October 8, 2015

Ethics of Our Fathers: Chapter 5 Mishna 15: Don't forget your Learning!!

"There are four types of students: 1) One who grasps quickly and forgets quickly, his gain is offset by his loss; 2) one who grasps slowly and forgets slowly, his loss is offset by his gain; 3) one who grasps quickly and forgets slowly, this is a good portion; 4) one who grasps slowly and forgets quickly, this is a bad portion"

The Mishna here speaks about the importance of how a person should study. They should be eager to learn and do what they can to understand while at the same time do proper review so that they will retain it.  After all, what is the point of learning if in a very short amount of time you will forget it! Not everyone will have the ability to understand things quickly; for some it will come easier to others it will not.

What will determine one's level of learning will be on the amount of time they spend trying to understand the material at hand while constantly reviewing what they learn. Without review, how is a person supposed to retain what they learn? We may not find reviewing our learning and constantly going over it fun but at the same time, the more we have thoroughly exhausted the material the more we will acquire the learning at hand.

Many people feel that they have spent a great amount of time learning but they have not mastered it! There are a number of reasons why this might be true. It could be lack of focus, depth or insufficient time to properly review or all three of these things put together. Learning Torah is hard, no question about it but if we live what we learn and love what we do, then the extra time to master it will give us tremendous self-confidence!

 We may give up at the start because learning Torah seems as vast as the sea or as expansive as the heavens above. Nonetheless, we have an obligation to the best of our ability to master it. This means that if someone would ask us a question, we should readily have an answer at the tip of our fingertips!

Forgetting what we learn should be an embarrassment to us because it shows that yes we are interested in the learning but it doesn't stay with us for so long so it doesn't stay with us. The idea of in one ear and out the other comes to play here. The following story with my rebbe, Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlit'a will help us understand this idea.

I once was giving over to him something I had prepared and in the middle of my presentation he told me to stop because I had quoted one of the commentators wrong. I had mentioned a different name of one of the rabbis that the text did not quote. He told me that I should go back and look it up because I had not quoted it properly and if I didn't quote it properly then he had no obligation to listen!!

"After all, how could you forget who said this," he shouted at me. "Isn't the Torah important to you enough that you should at least remember who said what?" Taken aback, I told him that I had just seen this commentary the other day and didn't think I misquoted it.

I took the Talmud off the shelf, opened it up and sure enough it was not as I had quoted it. The rav was vindicated and made a very strong point to constantly review and don't forget what you learned! This story will be forever etched in my memory because I can't say when the last time he had seen this commentary but I bet it wasn't very recent!

I took great pride in what transpired here because it taught me a valuable lesson. The Torah is so holy, so precious, can it be we would forget some aspect of it that we learned? The goal is as the Mishna clearly tells us, be eager and quick to learn and love to learn but constantly review so that you retain it and have it at the tip of your fingers. A true lesson for life!