Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Ordained in Cyberspace

Yisroel Besser

One day we might discover that Citi Field was erected to host the Asifa, MetLife Stadium was built in honor of the Siyum haShas … and the Internet was developed to enable Jews from all corners of the world to connect to Torah. That’s the vision of Reb Dovid Engel, a young Gerrer chassid who travels the world — by air and by cyberspace — to inspire doctors, lawyers, stockbrokers, and just about any committed Jew to become a rabbi.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

I notice my interviewee before he notices me, and it’s immediately obvious what makes him stand out.

He’s walking alongTeaneck’sQueen Anne Street— as central to this neighborhood as13th Avenueis toBoroPark, or Rechov Malchei Yisrael is toJerusalem— headed to the coffee shop where we’ve arranged to meet. The scene on the thoroughfare resembles that of its better-known counterparts: businessmen on cell phones, mothers smiling into strollers, a few senior citizens sitting leisurely outdoors, spectators to the midday bustle.

Really, he should stand out. His high Gerrer hat and peyos, trousers tucked into socks and the “walk”— the rapid, swinging pace that speaks of the focus and alacrity unique to his Chassidus — should draw attention here in this hub of Modern Orthodoxy.

But he doesn’t. And then it becomes clear why he’s so well-suited to his work — it’s this ability to seamlessly connect and fit in with all sorts of Jews, in all sorts of locations and cultures. Not a chassid inTeaneck, just a good Jew among good Jews.

Seated across from him, I realize something else: I’ve rarely interviewed people younger than myself — but though Reb Dovid Engel oozes youthfulness and enthusiasm, it isn’t from lack of experience or accomplishment.

The yeshivah he leads has no eastern wall. In fact, it has no wall at all, but it does have talmidim — doctors, lawyers, accountants, and other professionals from around the world. It also has no historical precedent. Pirchei Shoshanim, an Internet learning project culminating in smichah in accordance with the grueling exams of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, might raise eyebrows — a harnessing of the tools offered by a new world to teach wisdom as old as time.

“At a Pirchei Shoshanim siyum where all our participants received their smichah certificates, Ateres Yisrael mashgiach Rav Chaim Walkin was the guest speaker,” Reb Dovid remarks. “The Mashgiach quoted the gemara in Avodah Zarah that when Mashiach comes, the nations of the world will also be called to judgment. They will claim that everything they did — the bridges they built, the roads they paved — they did for the sake of Yisrael. The Mashgiach said, ‘I have no doubt that when that day comes, we will discover that Citi Field was erected to host the Asifa, and MetLife Stadium was built in honor of the Siyum haShas … and the Internet was developed to enable Jews from all corners of the world to connect to this learning program, to be part of something so magnificent.’”

Rabbi Engel is serious. “That idea is really our mission statement. It wasn’t easy, especially when we started, to launch an Internet-based learning program. The Internet is a vehicle of so much impurity — could it really be the means to increase holiness?”

Actually, the mission he refers to is one started long ago, before there was an Internet, before Dovid Engel was even born.

 

 To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha. To sign up for a weekly subscription click here.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you