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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, January 7, 2016

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 6 Mishna 2: The Truly Free Person is one who learns Torah

"Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Every day a heavenly voice resounds from Mount Horeb , proclaiming these words: 'Woe to the people for their disregard of the Torah! For whoever does not occupy himself with the Torah is considered rebuked as it is said, 'Like a golden ring in the snout of a swine is a fair woman lacking in taste'. The Torah says, 'The tablets were the work of G-d and the writing was the writing of G-d, engraved upon the tablets.' Read not here charut meaning engraved but heruth which means freedom, for none can be considered free except those who occupy themselves with the study of the Torah. Anyone who occupies himself with the study shall be exalted, as it is said, 'Through the Torah gift one attains the heritage of G-d; by the heritage of G-d one is raised to high places'". 

The first part of the Mishna explains that there is this heavenly voice that goes out every day bemoaning the fact that the Jewish people disregard the Torah. The first question is who hears this heavenly voice and what does it mean that the Jewish people disregard Torah?

If we would be on the spiritual level that we could be on, spiritual things would manifest themselves in a way that we could fathom. There are unique individuals that may be on this level but the vast majority of us are certainly not. At the same time, hearing this voice would be like hearing someone speak between two mountains, Rabbenu Yona tells us. This is difficult for us to fathom but the idea remains that we are lacking in our observance of Torah.

Even though today there is more Torah learning going on than in the second Temple era, nonetheless the level of scholarship today is not comparable to what it once was. It doesn't mean that G-d forbid, people are not learning it is just that the level of learning is not the same as it once was. This is certainly a rebuke against the Jewish people as to how far we have fallen.

Although this may happen on a daily basis whether we hear it or not reinforces the idea of how much more we have to work to reach our potential. The Mishna then continues to speak about the importance of learning Torah and how the truly free person is one that is occupied with Torah. If that is true, do we say that the vast majority of the world not occupied in Torah are mere slaves?

The Mishna here means that if we are occupied with Torah, learning its mitzvos and trying to reach the highest spiritual level we can, then we are really considered free. The reason is because if we don't do that, then we are in reality slaves to our wants and desires. Although we are given free will to act and do as we see fit, nonetheless we see that the more we engage in the everyday without stepping back to "smell the roses" and do what is really important, we have surely missed the boat!

The purpose of our lives is to realize that we are put in this world to struggle and overcome our evil inclination. We do mitzvos and keep Torah because that is the best way to become closer to G-d since this is the book that He manufactured Himself. Although we are given many trials and tribulations over our lifetime, we nonetheless strive to become better and sanctifying G-d's name!