Rabbi Daniel Cohen would like all of us to find our “Elijah Moment.”
A rabbi, author and inspirational speaker, Rabbi Cohen is well-positioned to help change the world, one person at a time. And this is what Rabbi Cohen does with wisdom, authenticity, humor and humanity. Since 2005, Rabbi Cohen has served as the senior rabbi of Congregation Agudath Sholom of Stamford, Connecticut, the largest modern Orthodox synagogue in New England. In addition, he is a writer, a co-host of the radio show “The Rabbi and the Reverend,” and lectures throughout the country, delivering insights and inspiration about living an enlightened, meaningful life.
In his book, “What Will They Say About You When You Are Gone? Creating a Life of Legacy,” Cohen encourages you to “live your best life now.” He quotes Mark Twain, who asked, “What are the two most important days of your life?” Twain’s answer, “The day that you were born and the day you knew why.”
We are all born with a purpose and Rabbi Cohen believes we can look inward and find out what that purpose is. You can discover who you are as a person and how you can improve yourself. Cohen wants us to ask ourselves how we would like to remembered; what is the legacy that we’d like to leave behind? During critical times in our lives, we give pause to consider our priorities, but soon resume our normal rhythm of living. Cohen’s book challenges us “to crystallize the life you want to lead” and takes you on a journey of seven principles to “reverse engineer” your life so you can lead the life now for how you want to be remembered. The book is designed as a road map for intentional and inspirational living. Each chapter possesses a tool box with manageable tasks to directly impact and enrich your life now.
“Discover Your Elijah Moment” is the first principle one should develop toward living one’s best life. You should ask yourself, “What is it that I can do, each day, to make someone else’s world a better place? How can each of us bring acts of kindness into the world? If we can light up one person’s life by performing a kindness toward that person, with that one light, we can inflame the world.” By discovering your “Elijah Moment” you will be harnessing potential in every encounter to establish a connection and to make someone’s day.
Several years ago, Cohen called on his close friend, Pastor Greg Doll, to create the Elijah Moment Campaign. Explained Cohen, “In a world with increasing acts of violence, we encouraged people to flood the world with acts of kindness. We asked people to share their deliberate acts of kindness and to inspire others to do the same. We launched a Facebook page to share ideas and inspire deliberate acts of kindness.”
Cohen decided to try his experiment in his local Starbucks in Stamford. Standing in line for his morning cup of coffee, he paid for his drink and told the cashier that he’d like to pay for the person standing behind him. Of course, that person was astounded and asked why Rabbi Cohen had done this. “If I pay for your drink, it’s because I think you’re a nice person and I hope, by my appreciating you, you will have a good day. He continued, “Perhaps you will pay this forward and make someone else’s day feel special.”
What would you do if you knew that you had only 24 hours to live? Would you like to thank all those people who have had an impact on your life or those who have helped you? Rabbi Cohen asks us not to wait. Tell people today how wonderful they are, how helpful they’ve been, how much you admire them. Try reaching out to just one person a day to thank them for the work they’re doing and the difference they are making in the world. Try thanking the cashier at your local supermarket, with a smile and a connection. Show someone that you care.
Rabbi Cohen refers to Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, known as the RaMChaL, an Italian Jewish rabbi, philosopher and kabbalist who lived in the 1700s and wrote, “I have written...not to teach men what they do not know, but to remind them of what they already know and is very evident to them, for you will find in most of my words only things which most people know, and concerning which they entertain no doubts.”
In contemporary language, Rabbi Cohen explained his role is not to tell you anything new, but to remind you of the obvious. One should have the quest or desire to hear the voice of God in one’s life, to create eternal relationships, to see the beauty of the world. We should not be mesmerized by what the world says we should be, but by what we feel deep inside of each of us that will allow us to be our best selves. We should learn to act courageously, seize meditative moments, live inspired and transform every moment into one of impact and eternity.
While Cohen is an Orthodox rabbi, “What Will They Say About You When You’re Gone?” is intended for people of all faith traditions. The lessons Cohen has learned and shared in his book about his experiences, faith and the stories of others encourage readers to rise above the monotony of daily life and to set out on the path to becoming their best selves. One can “reverse engineer” one’s life so that the person you are today more closely resembles the self you aspire to be—the person you hope will be remembered.
Cohen believes the process of writing deepens his own sense of life’s mission and enriches his rabbinate as he becomes more attuned to others and helping others grow. Living with a greater awareness, he is able to discover a lot more about himself.
Cohen shared, “I love what I do. I pray to God for strength every day to be His ambassador for blessing in the world. We are all here for a purpose. Every day, every hour and every moment is an opportunity to grow, learn and spread light. As my father says, ‘Make everyday a masterpiece.’ We should all ask ourselves, is what I am doing today worthy of future memory?”
By Yvette Finkelstein
Rabbi Cohen’s book can be purchased wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher at 800-441-5569 or www.hcibooks.com.