At my recent adult bat mitzvah, I had the honor to read Exodus 19, verses 18-20 which opens with the dramatic scene at Mount Sinai. I was taken aback by the powerful divine and natural forces. Mount Sinai is covered in smoke, God arrives in fire, there is an increasing loud blast of the shofar (the ram’s horn), Moses speaks, God answers in thunder. God calls Moses up the mountain; Moses goes up.
Respectfully, I believe that God had the plan, along with strategy and tactics to deliver a big idea to the Israelites. To me, this is solid evidence that God is the very first advertising executive.
Not a Don Draper or Darren Stevens type of ad executive. Nor Albert Brooks when he was a “Lost in America”-type of ad executive. But with all reverence, I believe in these passages the Eternal really understands the needs of the audience, the best way to get their attention and delivers just the right tone for the persuasive message that would compel them – to just do it.
For example, God uses influencers to encourage the people. Long before there was social media, God encouraged the people with leaders, role models and prophets all the time. It’s no accident that Moses recites the last eight commandments after God tells the assembled Israelites the first two.
Furthermore, there are the role models for Jews by birth or by choice in the Book of Ruth. In Haftorah portion, Isaiah Chapter 42, God wants us to be a light onto the nations – sort of like brand ambassadors for the Eternal.
God understands that sound is inspirational to any message. And that inspiration can make us aspire to something greater. Talk about getting our attention. As mentioned, besides the smoke and the crackle associated with the fire, God will answer Moses in thunder. The mountain trembled, the people in the camp trembled. And it is the blare of the shofar that is sounded on Mount Sinai but gets louder and louder — not softer and softer — as time goes on. We as a people, are harkened to stop everything, listen and heed the call.
In addition, it is to be understood that when God revealed the Ten Commandments, the Torah and the entire wealth of Jewish learning, “no bird chirped, no fowl beat its wings, no ox bellowed, the angels did not sing, the sea did not stir, no creature uttered a sound, the world was silent and still and the Divine Voice spoke: ‘I the Eternal, am your God.’”
That’s why no one else but an honored, respected brand personality like God could have made such a magnificent, majestic moment — the kind that the greatest commercial director would give their soul for.
Ultimately God is all about communications – the Commandments are deceivingly simple and succinct yet so personal and complex to give us ways to find their relevance in our lives. From an advertising perspective, it’s when a laundry detergent can make for cleaner and brighter clothes but when sold to us emotionally it represents not suds but how we take care of our families. Similarly, the Ten Commandments can make for righteousness. But the emotional impact and implication is that if we don’t embrace these commandments, we won’t lead our best lives.
God is a great advertising executive because the Eternal laid out the Ten Commandments and each of us ultimately must use reason to accept them as our own. God understands the people. God understands the importance of delivering great words with even greater content and visuals. God knows that there are those like me, who continue to question, to measure conforming and revelation against innovation and revolution. We are, after all, a people called Israel, as we struggle with what God asks of us.
Undeterred by our need for further understanding, I believe the Eternal continues to sell — to us all.
Hadassah stands for Jewish values and traditions. Hadassah also stands up for women’s empowerment and leadership, and therefore strongly supports the role of Jewish woman as keepers of the flame of Jewish values, traditions and beliefs. I am proud to be a Life Member of a national organization with such a noble purpose.