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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 19, 2015

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 5 Mishna 21: Influencing others has Consequences!

"Whoever leads the people to righteousness, no sin shall occur through him; whoever leads the people to sins hall not be enabled to repent. Moses was righteous and let the people to righteousness, hence the merit of the people is attributed to him as it is said: 'He performed the justice of the L-rd, and his ordinances with Israel." Jeroboam the son of Nebat, sinned and caused others to sin, hence the sin of the people is attributed to him, as it is aid,: 'For the sins of Jeroboam which he sinned and caused Israel to sin'". 

People who are in positions of leadership have the ability to influence others for good and bad. If they lead people to go in G-d's ways and strengthen them, then the Mishna tells us that no sin will befall them. This is incredible because according to this it would seem that their evil inclination is kept at bay because of the great work that they are doing!

What this means is that although this may be true, the evil inclination does not rest and constantly works to ensnare a person into its web so that they can reach their true potential. That being said, working with others and influencing them positively can have a tremendous effect on a person and actually save them from sin.

Rabbi Eliahu Lopian z"l a Torah giant of the last generation and leader in the mussar movement explained that when a person works with others and helps them, bad judgement upon them is avoided because of their gracious acts. This means that if a person wants to guarantee long life (even though there are no guarantees in this world) they should work with people and help them. Why is this so?

If we work with others and try and help them in any which way, we gain tremendous merit because we are doing such a selfless act. We are not doing this because we want merit for our portion in the world to come but rather it is genuine because we are helping them and guiding them to greatness in spiritual things.

This has a tremendous power to protect us because if we are needed in this capacity then G-d will make sure that they are able to continue their holy work making sure that nothing bad befalls them. Although there are other factors involved that could override this, nonetheless it is a good way to protect ourselves.

 It also helps us in giving to others which will result in us wanting to help even more. This is what the Mishna in Ethics of our fathers teaches us that when we do a mitzvah, it causes us to do more mitzvas because we are not only used to doing it but it has a positive influence and causes us to do other good things as well.

If G-d forbid we lead others to go astray, there is nothing worse than this. The reason is because not only are we not helping them to go in G-d's way but we are leading them astray and causing them to rebel against Him. Therefore it is as if their sins are attributed to the one causing them to go in that direction. The question is if everyone has free will, why is it the person causing them to go in that direction is more severely punished than the one who transgressed in the first place?

The one who transgressed will surely be punished but if they were influenced by someone to go in that direction and do just that, the person who caused it is influencing them to go in the wrong direction. This is why the punishment for them is so severe.

This is the reason we have to be careful who we befriend and what influences we allow in our lives. Some are very good and can keep us on the straight and narrow path while others will destroy us and take us away from what we need to do!