Do you have an elevator pitch ready to go? Have you ever been on the receiving end of an elevator pitch?
For those who aren’t familiar with the term, it is a 20-30 second speech carefully crafted to sell an idea, a project or an organization in the time it takes to ride an elevator from one floor to another in a high-rise office building. You may only get that much time to convince someone. So, you have to make it good.
In an age long before elevators, Moses was called upon to make an “elevator pitch” on behalf of God to the Children of Israel before his death. Despite the amazing miracles and wonders God performed in Egypt and the wilderness, the Children of Israel were not yet 100% sold on God. Then, Moses stepped onto the “elevator.”
This is what he said:
“My father was a fugitive Aramean. He went down to Egypt with meager numbers and sojourned there; but there he became a great and very populous nation. The Egyptians dealt harshly with us and oppressed us; they imposed heavy labor upon us. We cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our plea and saw our plight, our misery, and our oppression. The Lord freed us from Egypt by a mighty hand, by an outstretched arm and awesome power, and by signs and portents. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey (Deut. 26:5-8).”
In four sentences, Moses told the story of our people up until that point. He reminded the Children of Israel of all that God had done for them. He made a pitch for them to observe God’s laws, customs and rituals once they entered the Promised Land.
It must have been a pretty good pitch. Not only did the Children of Israel accept his argument, but we also continue to give that pitch each and every Passover. Those four verses comprise the central text of the Passover Haggadah.
The challenge, of course, is to create a new pitch for God in the new year of 5776 – only two weeks away. We don’t have a Moses to step onto the “elevator” with us. We have to craft the speech ourselves. We have to figure out what about Judaism is meaningful and relevant to us today.
Granted, part of that challenge falls to a rabbi, whose job it is to bring the Torah and the people closer together. However, part of that challenge falls to each and every individual.
It’s not easy, but it’s worth doing. After all, we never know when it’s our turn to get off the elevator.