It’s Thanksgiving weekend and the 2022 Holiday Season is officially underway.
Because this is a time of giving and sharing more light in the world, I thought today’s focus would be a little different. Today I am interviewing Rabbi Daniel Cohen, author of the book What Will They Say About You When You’re Gone: Creating a Life of Legacy.
Rabbi Cohen is a popular motivator, mentor, and inspirational speaker whose unique blend of authenticity, humor, wisdom, and insight can help anyone better navigate contemporary society and lead a life of legacy.
Oh, and full disclosure, Rabbi Cohen is one of my wonderful clients. (All of my clients will be interviewed at some point, so if that includes you, be thinking about your key messages and our upcoming conversation.)
Below is the transcript of a recent conversation we had about his book and some current promotions we’re doing. It might spark some ideas for your book as well, and we certainly invite you to participate in The Elijah Moments campaign:
Me: Rabbi Cohen, thanks for joining us today.
Rabbi Cohen: Thank you very much. It’s great to be here and full disclosure, you, Joanne, are one of my favorite people.
Me: Oh, that’s so lovely to hear. <smile> Let’s begin with your book since most here are writers, authors, and those in the literary field. What motivated you to write What Will They Say About You When You’re Gone?
Rabbi Cohen: I would say primarily there were two stirrings in my heart. One was that as a rabbi, I oftentimes encounter people at different moments in their lives and what I found is that when, God forbid, there is a tragedy that’s when they come to synagogue. That’s when they begin to think about what’s truly important in their lives. And then for about 24 hours or the extent of that journey, they remain motivated. But once the pressure is off and things are good again, they go back to life as usual. And I realized that that’s not the way life is meant to be lived.
I started trying to help people identify their best selves, and then take them on a journey of reverse engineering their lives. That moment of awakening could be at a funeral, where the idea for the book all started. Have you ever been sitting at a funeral and wondered, “I hope they say that about me when I’m gone…”
People are usually motivated for about 15 minutes, when once again they get distracted.
On a deeply personal level, this is something that I’ve grappled with after the loss of my mother, who died from a brain aneurysm at the age of 44. In that instant I learned that life is fragile. We can’t take anything for granted.
When I got to the same age as my mother, I asked myself if I’m doing the best I can to help make the world a better place with the life that God has given me?
So the book is really a way for me, and hopefully others, to be inspired to lead life to the fullest, to realize our divine potential every day and create eternal impact in every encounter that we have.
Me: I am sorry for the loss of your mother. Those events in our lives have such a big impact as you’ve so beautifully described. I love the idea of creating eternal impact in every encounter that we have. You found a way to expand on that as a way that we can all participate in, particularly now that the holiday season is upon us.
Let’s talk about the Elijah Moments Campaign. Who is Elijah?
Rabbi Cohen: One of the principles for leading a life of legacy is discovering your Elijah moments. It’s based on the idea that you may not be able to change the entire world, but you can change the entire world of one person.
Here is a brief story that illustrates this. A fellow went to see his mystic mentor and said, “ I want to see Elijah.”
The mystic said, “Go into the forest. There’s a widow there and you will see Elijah the prophet.”
He goes into the forest that day. Then he goes on Friday. He goes again on Saturday, he still doesn’t see Elijah the prophet. Finally he comes back on Sunday and tells the mystic there was no Elijah. The mystic says, ”Take food, go back into the forest, and I promise this week you’ll see Elijah.”
So he goes deep into the forest. It’s Friday afternoon and he’s within earshot of the home. And here’s a young child crying out to the mother saying, “Mommy, where are we going to get food for the Sabbath?” and the mother turns to the child and says, “Just like Elijah came last week, he is going to come again.”
And it was in that moment he realized that he was the one that the world was waiting for.
Mark Twain was the one who said there are two most important days of our lives: One is the day we are born and the other is the day we understand why.
We have so many opportunities to be an Elijah, whether it’s meeting somebody at the supermarket and sharing a smile, or seeing somebody in the parking lot who needs help and giving aid, or just calling somebody up on the phone to say hello. We can potentially light up something inside of the other person and not only influence them, but make the world a better place, simply by doing simple things.
I’m very into small acts having eternal consequences, and the Elijah moment campaign is now underway. It begins each year on Thanksgiving and runs through the entire holiday season.
Here is a great idea for all your readers. One simple, yet profound act is visiting first responders and bringing something for them, whether you go to the police department, the fire department, EMTs, healthcare workers, etc. Simply bring some cookies and say, “Thank you.” So simple.
Lift them up because there’s so much more that unites and binds us. This is the season to recognize our human common humanity, and to create the larger moments to truly lift up the spirit — not only of ourselves — but our community and our country.
Me: And if you have kids what a great experience for them as well. Take them along, give a gift to others and see everyone’s face light up. They were remembered and you took the time to bring them a special treat during the holiday season.
Rabbi Cohen: Yes, there’s no question that as we elevate those whom we give to, it elevates us as well.
Me: So don’t underestimate the impact of even 20 minutes given to others — basically strangers who put their own lives at risk every day for us — over the holiday season. While you’re there, be sure and take some pictures and maybe even a little video. That is an Elijah Moment. Take the photo or video and post to the Elijah Moment Facebook page.
Posting the pictures will inspire others to do the same so you’re not only impacting those with you, but likely others around the world. See the joy and light. Oh and be sure to like the posts of others too.
Rabbi Cohen: 100%. You know, kindness is contagious. When somebody posts photos of Elijah moments, it inspires others to think about what they can do and you realize there are so many opportunities.
Let’s make sure we don’t let a day pass without revealing a little bit of that light inside of us and make our mark on the world, especially during the season.
It has been tough economically for many people so find a place to collect food, go to a shelter, do an act of kindness and then post that on our Elijah Moment Community Facebook page. It’s another way to slowly transform our world into a world that is truly rooted in kindness. Remember, it is up to each of us. It really is. There isn’t someone who is going to come in and do everything for us. We each have to step up and participate in this, and that’s a good thing.
Me: There you have it. It is up to each one of us to spread the light and the good will. It doesn’t matter what faith you are, or if you choose not to affiliate with any religion. That is not the point. Doing the right thing feels good, it helps others, and what a way to express our own gratitude and thanks.
Thank you again for being here today Rabbi Cohen. It’s a pleasure, as always.
Rabbi Cohen: My pleasure and you’re a wonderful light yourself. God bless you to continue to be a conduit for many blessings in the world.
Me: Oh, thank you, Rabbi.
During this season of light, no matter what your particular faith is or isn’t, we can all light up each other, and we need to. Now more than ever.
To your success!
P.S. Happy Holiday!!
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