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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 26, 2015

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 5 Mishna 22: Who do you want to be like, Balaam or Avraham?

"Whoever has the following three traits is among the disciples of our forefather Avraham and whoever has three different traits is among the disciples of the wicked Balaam. Those who have a good eye, a humble spirit, and a meek soul are among the disciples of our forefather Avraham. Those who have an evil eye, an arrogant spirit, and a greedy soul are among the disciples of the wicked Balaam. How are the disciples of the wicked Balaam? The disciples of our forefather Avraham enjoy the (fruits of their good deeds in this world and inherit the world to come as it is aid: 'To cause those who love Me to inherit an everlasting possession (the world to come) and I will fill their storehouses (in this world). But the disciples of the wicked Balaam inherit Gehinnom and descend into the well of destruction, as is said 'And you O G-d shall lower them into the well of destruction men of bloodsheed and deceit shall not live out half their days; but as for me, I will trust in You'".

 Avraham's great character traits shows that he wanted to help others, was humble and didn't think he was anything special, just wanting to serve G-d the best way possible. We see that he desired to have guests to the extent that he was looking for them just three days after he was circumcised. He was no doubt exempt from this but the importance of this mitzvah is so great that we learn out that having guests is more important that even speaking to G-d directly!

His way of treating guests was unparalleled. We can understand this because when he had guests he served them what they wanted to eat not what he wanted to serve them. This shows how much desire he had to serve others and how much he wanted them to enjoy his hospitality.

He was also humble in spirit which means that he did not consider himself so special, just a person who dedicated himself to G-d in a world filled with idolatry. G-d gave him many difficult trials which he was able to overcome solidifying his legacy with the binding of Yitzchak! They made him stronger and gives us the ability to withstand trials and tribulations because of what he did

He is also meek soul which Rabbenu Yonah explains that he had no desire to do evil and was of such a pure soul that he continually strove to grow in spirituality regardless of what he was going through. He understood that G-d demanded a lot from him and was willing to do whatever was asked of him. Considering all the difficulties that he went through, he never questioned G-d's ways and successfully reached his potential!

Balaam on the other hand was just the opposite. He was greedy and arrogant and even though he communicated with G-d, it didn't change him for the better! This is incredulous to understand because we can't imagine that someone at that level who G-d communicated with could act in such a way.

He continued to do evil and didn't care about anything except himself. It turned him into a selfish person whose sole purpose was to look out for himself and give in to desires as he saw fit! Isn't that what most people do anyway, you may ask?

That may be true but he had tremendous influence over others. This is truly scary because he was able to corrupt others to go against G-d and live a wayward life. Someone who is subservient to their desires and does not work on them is never truly free because they are constantly busy just fulfilling the next desire...The truly free person though is someone who learns Torah and goes in its ways,

The Misnah compares both Avraham and Balaam showing how they represent to opposite ways of how to live one's life. A person can decide to go in the direction of Avraham, constantly rising up the spiritual ladder, willing to do anything to have closeness to G-d. Balaam, on the other hand, went after his how desires which destroyed his soul and those around him. The choice is ours to make: do we want to be like Balaam or Avraham?