No one at the time would have noticed anything, there were no announcements, no launch events, no press, no excitement and certainly no congratulations.
However, there was an idea, an idea which 10 years later has and will continue to change the Jewish world.
Last night my wife and I were guests at the 10th anniversary dinner of Manhigut Toranit in Yerushalayim and are looking forward to a wonderful Shabbat.
The mission of Manhigut Toranit is simple:
To produce the next generation of high-level Torah and Rabbinic leaders, who will enrich, empower, and transform Jewish communities around the world by connecting them to Torah and Zionism.
They select a few outstanding students through rigorous screening, who have shown excellence and profundity in Torah as well as engaging personalities, who then commit to an intensive five-year full time intensive post smicha program, synthesizing Torah mastery, leadership courses and interpersonal skills. Graduates then translate years of dedicated in-depth learning into impacting communities around the world on their shlichut. All participants are married with families, and many have made Aliya from around the world. All of the Israeli-born students have served in the IDF.
Many of you will know some of the graduates. We in the UK have been blessed to have had four graduates so far. Two of which have already completed their shlichut. Rabbi Eliyahu Silverman and Rabbi Joel Kenigsburg. As well as two who are currently working in the UK, Rabbi Avichai Goodman – Rav Shaliach of Bnei Akiva and Rabbi Sam Millunchick, Rabbi of Belmont United Synagogue.
Rav Eliyahu and Rav Joel made an incredible contribution to the UK community in the years that they were here, and are continuing their contribution after they returned back to Israel.
For me, the overriding importance of Manhigut Toranit is to demonstrate that our world, the world of Torat Yisrael – produces Rabbanim of the highest quality who can model the centrality of Torah to our communities. Who can show the depth and majesty of Torah learning and its application to the modern world. Who can be proud members and shlichim of Medinat Yisrael.
Of course, this week Anglo Jewry lost a great man who was the pinnacle of showing us the depth and majesty of Torah, who was also incredibly warm and sensitive to all people that he met.
My first encounter with Dayan Ehrentreu zt’l after I became a Rabbi was when I had to pass an exam to be allowed to officiate at weddings. I was given the various sources to learn and then had to come and meet the Dayan. I was a very young Rabbi, and very nervous to be examined by one of the leading Torah scholars in the world.
I know I passed, but my overriding memories from that meeting were not the fact that I qualified but how he fully understood my nerves and made me feel relaxed and comfortable with him. His advice, his guidance was formed from decades of learning and living Torah.
Throughout the next 20 or so years, whenever I saw him, he always had that gentle encouraging smile, yet it was combined with a fierce defence of the Mesorah which led to the London Bet Din being seen globally as the gold standard in many areas.
While sitting last night and speaking to the next generation of young rabbonim, I was inspired by their passion, their drive and their love and knowledge of Torah and their desire to teach globally. However, I was saddened that they will never have the gift that so many of us had to meet with the Dayan, to be examined by the Dayan and to learn from the Dayan.
We read this week in shul:
And these are the generations of Yitzchak the son of Avraham; Avraham begot Yitzhak.
Rashi explains why both phrases are needed:
Since Scripture wrote: “Yitzchak the son of Avraham,” it had to say: “Avraham begot Yitzchak,” because the scorners of the generation were saying that Sarah had conceived from Avimelech, for she had lived with Avraham for many years and had not conceived from him. What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He shaped the features of Yitzchak’s face to resemble Avraham’s, and everyone attested that Avraham had begotten Yitzchak.
Throughout Jewish history we have had the ‘litznei hador’ the scorners of the generation. We have also had throughout Jewish history the ‘Gedolei Hador’ the greats of the generation who would defend and fight for Torah and make it a light for all.
Dayan Ehrentreu was one of those ‘Gedolei Hador’ who lived his life to strengthen Klal Yisrael and l’hagdil Torah Ulehadirah – to make Torah great and to glorify it.
So, this Shabbat, with Manhigut Toranit I am honoured to spend it with the future.
However, this Shabbat I will also remember the past, who helped us all to build the future, a future with Torah at the centre of our nation.