by Rabbi Daniel Cohen
(Health Communications Inc., 2016)
Just over two years ago I watched an incredibly inspiring TED-like talk by Rabbi Daniel Cohen which I have since watched and shown on numerous occasions.
Rabbi Cohen’s talk, titled ‘Living a Life of Legacy – Discovering Your Elijah Moment’, reflected on the legacy that we leave when we die, as well as our ability to ‘reverse engineer’ our lives to reflect the values that we want to be remembered by.
According to Rabbi Cohen, one way of doing so is to discover the ‘Elijah moments’ in our lives. As he explained, every encounter in our life contains opportunities for us to be agents of kindness. By harnessing these moments we create what Rabbi Cohen calls ‘Elijah moments’ that can be utterly transformative. For example, Rabbi Cohen described how a woman experienced an Elijah moment in a parking lot when she helped a random stranger tie his shoes, and how a random act of kindness of buying a stranger a cup of coffee in Starbucks helped him discover his Elijah moment. As he explained, while one person cannot change the world, we can change the world of one person every day.
But, as Rabbi Cohen then pointed out, ‘Discovering Your Elijah Moment’ is not the only way to live a life of legacy and in his book titled What will they say about you when you are gone? – which at the time he was mid-way through writing – he hoped to share further advice, insights and strategies on this topic.
As a growth-oriented Jew, a teacher, and someone with a particular interest in ethical wills and the spiritual legacies that we leave I was keen to hear more wisdom from RabbiCohen, and in late 2016 I was excited to hear that What will they say about you when you are gone? had been published. Having ordered it via amazon I waited with anticipation, and last week my copy arrived. With great eagerness I sat down in my most comfortable chair, with a coffee at my side, to begin reading.
What will they say about you when you are gone? is an exquisite book whose emotional, intellectual and spiritual waves carry the reader on a journey of future-self-discovery – from where they are, to a clear idea of where – and who – they want to be.
In What will they say about you when you are gone?, Rabbi Cohen interweaves Torah wisdom, general wisdom, stories, tips and personal challenges in a majestic fashion, such that the reader can find – often on the same page – Torah insights of RavSoloveitchik, wise observations of the Greek philosopher Marcus Aurelius, and personal perspective of film director Ron Howard.
But this book is not just a collection of the wisdom of others. In fact, this book is very personal and on each page Rabbi Cohen reveals aspects of his life, through which his warmth, wisdom and spirituality is palpable.
In What will they say about you when you are gone?, Rabbi Cohen speaks about the importance of making courageous choices, seizing meditative moments, creating memories, finding faith, living inspired and discovering your renewable energy, as well as discovering your Elijah moment. For each of these Rabbi Cohen offers concrete examples, and he offers suggestions about how to reverse engineer our lives to reflect these core values.
What will they say about you when you are gone? is a modern-day mussar work that can be appreciated & enjoyed by young and old, Jew and non-Jew alike, and it is a book that I believe is a must-read for anyone and everyone.
But more significantly, it is a book whose impact can, should, and will go way beyond its enjoyment in reading.
To purchase a copy of this book, click here.