Harold Klein

Don’t text and live! OMG – Vayigash

Have you ever wondered how much we lose by cutting everything short, not getting close, eliminating experiences, creating distance in relationships. We share, we solicit, we respond by texts, twitter, emails and instant messages rather than approaching, getting near. We lose the ability to connect, to experience, to make that important sale, to get close, to build experiences, to live. “I fear the day the technology will surpass our Human interaction. We will have a generation of idiots.” Albert Einstein.

When I teach people how to interview individuals for on camera appearances, there are a few major points I want the interviewer to employ so that the subject engages and reveals compelling, enlightening and persuasive information. These techniques center on building a relationship with the subject (person on camera) and gaining the desired outcome, similar to what a good salesperson calls upon in making a presentation that gets the contract.

First, I tell the interviewer, even though we can work with a zoom lens and ask the questions from a distance, you be near the subject and keep the shot close so the viewer feels near. Let that subject see your eyes, your emotions, reactions and feel your presence. Next, have the person tell a story in communicating the material. Nothing connects especially today when people rush to the click, as a story. Then within that story, have them share details, explicit details to paint a picture. One of my reference points is the documentary/film Shoah. It was so powerful, hailed as an epic, Roger Ebert referred to it not as political piece, nor a documentary, nor a film but “an act of witness”...because the director Claude Lanzman had the on camera personalities, share in grand detail their experiences. He did not use cutaways of historic material, the subject, piece by painful piece, painted the picture in a story telling approach that drew the viewer close in a captivated, emotionally draining and connected manner for 9 ½ hours.

One example of success in this philosophy is when we produced a presentation promoting Cardiac Rehab centers. Our director following the guidance, had those that had events, relive the experience telling their story moment by moment, detail by detail. In the telling, the camera person passed out and a crew member gave up smoking immediately.

“ Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all that stood by him; and he cried…” That was the result of Judah’s detailed presentation to Joseph, he made the sale.

Judah on behalf of his family and the future Israel had to make the pitch of a lifetime. His presentation is worthy of study in a sales course from the set up, engaging the prospect, making the pitch, building the evidence and closing the deal.

Then Judah came near unto Him, and said…let thy servant…..I pray thee say a word in my lord’s ears…” Learning the text closely supports the notion raised in my open. Judah got close, told a story, communicated in meticulous detail and added one more essential ingredient, passion.

Nechama Liebowitz takes this pitch apart sharing the actual sales structure of Judah’s formula in the presentation. She points out as well, that this is the “longest oration recorded in Genesis” and that in the telling, Judah strategically mentions the term “Father”14 times arousing emotion, compassion and a connection. I hope my kids are reading and seek out the real text here, because everything in life is a sales call and this is a selling and relationship building masterpiece. But there is more here than making the sale to a prospect.

There is a deeper connection and nearness which would be applied to our ultimate customer that we petition. The Sfas Emes on what we have cited here “ Joseph was no longer able to hold back. For it is wrtitten: Judah approached (came near) him’. The ‘him’ here refers to Joseph, to Judah’s own self, and also to G-d. ….The fact is that this entire account of Joseph and his brothers is an allegory for Israel’s worship of the Blessed Holy One….”

While what I am suggesting here has absolute practical value, there are deeper spiritual connections as well. It begins with the need, the demand of ourselves to approach, to get near to Hashem and make our presentation, going into detail, making that time with him a special interaction. Clearly, this in part refers to prayer, our petition to Him and in our living life.

In Rabbi Heschel’s “Man’s Quest For G-d” he shares the importance of maintaining a relationship through prayer and how to position ourselves to get close. It begins with the understanding of how important it is to be near. One of the stories that shaped Heschel’s life was when he was studying in Berlin. Late one day he found himself strolling the streets taken with; the high tech city, urban life, the structures, distractions, architecture, thinking whether to go to the new Max Reinhardt play or a lecture on relativity, “Suddenly I noticed the sun had gone down, evening had arrived”.…he thinks about the Mishna “from what time may one recite the Shema in evening” …. Heschel was distraught because he missed the optimum time to pray. to connect…”I had forgotten G-d- I had forgotten Sinai. I had forgotten that sunset is my business…..G-d wants me to be close to Him, even to bind every morning His word as a sign on my hand, and between my eyes. I would remind myself of the word that G-d spoke to me through his Prophet Hosea: ‘I will betroth you unto Me forever; I will betroth you unto Me in righteousness and in justice, in kindness and in mercy. I will betroth you unto me in faithfulness: and you shall know the Lord’. It is an act of betrothal, a promise to marry…It is an act of G-d falling in love with His people. But the engagement depends on righteousness, justice, kindness, mercy.”

We need Him to notice us, we need that partnership (marriage) with G-d wherever we are, wherever we go, whatever we are trying to achieve. How do we present ourselves? How do we approach, get near?

 Heschel as Chassidim do, tells a beautiful story to help communicate a way of thinking, of behavior, of helping us get near, of achieving honest passion of realizing Kavanah–sense the detail and the message. It is truly a magnificent story.

There was a young shepherd who was unable to recite the Hebrew Prayers. The only way in which he worshiped was ‘Lord of the world! It is apparent and known unto you, that if you had cattle and gave them to me to tend, though I take wages for tending from all others, from you I would take nothing, because I love you.’

One day a learned man passing by and heard the shepherd pronounce his offer and shouted at him; ‘Fool, do not pray thus.’ The shepherd asked him, ‘How should I pray?’

Thereupon the learned man taught him the benedictions. The recitation of the Shema and the Silent Prayer, so that henceforth he would not say what he was accustomed to saying.

After the learned man had gone away, the shepherd forgot all that had been taught him and did not pray. And he was even afraid to say what he had been accustomed to say, since the righteous man had told him not to.

One night the learned man had a a dream and he heard a voice: ‘ If you do not tell him to say what he was accustomed to say before you came to him, know that misfortune will overtake you, for you have robbed me of one who belongs to the world to come’.

At once the learned man went to the shepherd and said to him ‘What prayer are you making?’ The shepherd answered, ‘None for I have forgotten what you taught me and you forbade me to say ‘If you had Cattle….’…. Then the learned man told him what he had dreamed and added ‘Say what you used to say.’ Behold, here is one who had neither Torah nor words; he only had it in his heart to do good and this was esteemed in heaven,, …’ The Merciful One desires the Heart’ (Talmud). Therefore, let men think good thoughts and let these thoughts be turned to the Holy One blessed be He.’ (Sefer Hasidim)”

This is a story of passion of the critical importance of getting close.

So what is the message to us? What, how, do we tell to connect? Oh so many lessons. I believe the answer lies in our living, really living through G-d’s text and its messaging so that we have stories to tell and be able to tell them, our honest way. That is how we get near and make the sale on many levels.

Allow me to share a personal story in a few stages that connects what I am trying to communicate.

When Nan’s young cousin Stacy in her 30’s, was diagnosed with a terminal disease, I read a book by Dr. Bernie Siegel who also was terminal but survived. Briefly, he shares the idea, that you must connect with your physician. Tell the doctor all about yourself, share details about your life, get close to him. Stacy, did not make it, but shared with me how valuable that insight was.

After my mom passed, within short order, my dad living in Florida was a mess in every way possible. He was a Holocaust Survivor, proud and stubborn. He did not want to budge. I needed to get him here and get him proper care. I can’t mention exact names here….Friends of mine at my kids’ school, told me to ask one of the parents, Dr. G to help, “He is a fabulous, busy and popular gerontologist that can truly help, tell him your story.”

Before the struggle to get my father here for the critical care and love he needed, I went to see Dr. G, I got near to him. “I know how busy you are, I so need your help. My mom suddenly passed, my father was dependent on her for everything. My father, Dr., is a Holocaust Survivor. My Dad came here really with nothing. My father is also a hero. He always knew how to talk, to be persuasive. Let me tell you a quick story about my pop. The Russians prior to the Nazis coming to his town in Poland, took over a building that housed the Shtetl’s Mikvah. They closed it and used it as their offices. My father went to schmooze with some of the officers. Dad was a shoemaker, he made shoes for some of them. He spoke to them, joked with them, got near to them. Ultimately, my father convinced them to reopen the Mikvah. The women were walking 10 miles to go to another one. One night, after midnight, my father heard knocks at the door of his home. His father answered. It was the Chief Rabbi of the town, he told my grandfather, ‘Zvi Hersh, for what your son has done, your family will be blessed’.’” Dr. G I remember, was silent. He then spent over 1 ½ hours with me on a plan. He said “ I know your father’s condition, he probably doesn’t have long.” I told him my father had to make Max’s Bar Mitzvah, which was years away. Dr. G did not say anything. The plan engaged and started to work, I got my dad to NY. Dr. G spent 3 hours, 3 hours with my father. Can you imagine? Even after executing the approach to care which required other facilities not affiliated with Dr. G, Dr. G stayed on top of it. Without me knowing, he interacted with the other Doctors. Well, my father lived, he went to Max’s Bar Mitzvah. Even though he had severe dementia, did not communicate at all, while Max read so beautifully the Parasha…Rabbi Siff (who inspired me to write these pieces) taps me during the laining (reading)…he points to my father in his wheelchair. I am brought to tears as I write this….. tears were running down, deep down both sides of his face. My father knew, the text was in him, it was Torah from his coming generations. Torah never leaves a person, it is text that has life, continued life. My father’s life contract was extended, he lived just till after Max’s Bar Mitzvah. So the Rabbi’s blessing worked, dad was blessed in that I am able to tell this story.

The message is get near G-d, get Him to know you, tell him your story in detail, make the sale with passion and Don’t live and Text, LIVE through the Text. OMG

Heschel in portraying the life of the prophets cites Ezekiel “Thus says the Lord G-d, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!”

About the Author
Co-founded with Nan Klein in 1976 one of the country's first video companies. We produce programming for the top organizations in the world. We live a fully Shomer Shabbat life in Woodmere, NY.
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