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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 10, 2015

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 5 Mishna 24: Preparing our Life in this world!

"He used to say: A five year old begins Scripture; a ten year old begins Mishna; a thirteen year old becomes obliged to observe the commandments; a fifteen year old begins the study of Gemara; an eighteen year old goes to the marriage canopy; a twenty year old begins pursuit of a livelihood; a thirty year old attains full strength; a forty year old attains understanding; a fifty year old can offer counsel; a sixty ear old attains seniority; a seventy year old attains a ripe old age; an eighty year old shows strength; a ninety year old becomes stooped over; a hundred year old is as if he were dead, passed away and ceased from the world". 

A parent has an obligation to educate his children even from a very young age. When they first begin to speak they teach him the verse "Torah tziva lanu Moshe" (and the Torah commanded us to do...through Moshe). Even if the child doesn't understand what that means we are teaching him the importance about Torah and mitzvah observance because G-d commanded Moshe and gave us the Torah. This is important because we want to start our children when they first learn to speak to say words of Torah and show them how precious it is.

At the age of ten a child should be learning Mishna. In fact today, kids start learning Mishna earlier than that. They start off with Chumash (the Bible) and then go on to learn the Mishna which is a commentary on the Bible. This gives them the foundation to learn further i.e. Gemara which is a commentary on the Mishna and the subsequent commentaries as well. That continues through bar mitzvah where the child will develop his learning skills further as he gets older.

Fifteen is the latest one should start learning Gemara. There is a school of thought to go through all the Chumash and Mishna and constantly review until this age so that they have mastered it and then start the learning of Gemara. Since they have that other knowledge under their belt, it will make learning Gemara easier. Many do not hold this way as the teaching of Gemara begins even before bar mitzvah!

The Mishna then tells us at 18 a person should be married. In some circles that is practiced even by men but most wait until they 21, 22 before they start the dating process since they are more mature (or at least should be) by that age. Women get married younger, usually starting to date at about 19 but some even younger than that. They are mature already at that age and have been prepared for this their whole lives.

Some may feel that they have to already have a career and other life experience but it seems clear that the longer a person waits, the more difficult it is to get married.  A person is more set in their ways as they get older which makes the dating process more difficult. Being older in this case is not better but the reality is that the longer time goes by the more demands they may have on what they are looking for!

At the age of 20, a person should focus on Torah and running after it to be the best he can be. If he is indeed married at 18, then he would have to focus on what to do for a livelihood which will help support his family and learn Torah as well. The best livelihood a person can find would be one where they could utilize their time for studying Torah. This means that we should look for a livelihood that doesn't have as many hours so that the rest of the time can be put to Torah learning. Obviously easier said than done!

At the age of thirty a person has strength which doesn't diminish. We learn this out from the Levites who started serving in the Temple at the age of thirty. They needed strength to be able to do the many things that were required in the Temple and this is why the Mishna mentions the idea of strength here.

A person reaches true understanding at the age of 40. He has spent many years toiling in Torah and now has a broad enough knowledge that he has understanding of what it is all about. It comes with maturity and a desire for truth which leads him this way.

At the age of 50 a person has the ability to give advice to others. The reason is that they have learned for many years and now they have the knowledge and life experience to counsel others. Obviously it can only be that individual steeped in Torah that is able to do this

A sixty year old reaches seniority which means they understand that their time in this world is limited and soon they will no longer be here. It is at this time that people have to really take stock in their lives and how they are living as they will soon have to answer to the King of Kings for what they have done in this world!

When a person is in their 70's and 80's, they realize that they are closer to grave! King David says in Psalms that a person's life is only 70 years in this world and if he has strength he will be last 80 years. We see this clearly as the body starts to decay. The focus of a person's life at this stage should be to strengthen themselves in learning and sincerely repent for any wrongdoing they may have done!

A person that reaches 90 must realize that although they are alive, it is as if they have one foot in the grave. They have to make the most of the lives at this stage that G-d has given them and pursue Torah knowledge because tomorrow they may not be here.

When a person hits the age of 100 it is as if he is not in the world anymore. He has certainly been granted long life by G-d but at this stage we don't value him as being in this world. Most people do not live this long so by the time a person reaches this stage, it is as if they are no longer here.

We see from this Mishna the importance of different stages of our lives and how we should look at them! This world is about preparation for the next world and the stages in which to get there!