Sunday, January 16, 2011

Imitation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery

Okay so here I am in California. Yep Im in Los Angeles, more specifically Pico Robertston. The Crown Heights of the West Coast, minus all the dirty looks and unfriendly nature of the the original. Guess what, there is a 770 here! Now for those of you who don’t know, 770 is the holy of holies in the Chabad world. The Rebbes shul and more importantly the headquarters for Chabad. Not only does it house the main Chabad shul, but also the Rebbe’s office, apartment, and a yeshiva. 
Now I always knew that many Chabad communities had replicated this building in their own cities, however I never knew there were so many. I have now learned that there are over a dozen “770’s” all over the world. That’s some kind of dedication and truly flattering. 
Erev Shabbos I was driving with my host, who happens to be one of my favorite people (no sarcasm). We were going to pick up her younger sisters from school. As we drove up the block I was checking out the scenery. All of a sudden I lifted my head and there it was. Just like home. Oh my God IT’S 770!!!! I was so excited I had to take a picture. My friend was amazed by my excitement. As you all know I am no longer religious so why would I care. But according to my friend I am still a very spiritual person so it makes sense that I would be excited. 
I took a picture and we kept driving. To my surprise we were driving behind 770, and then like driving into a holy portal we were driving into 770. Now if you were to do this in New York, at the original, you would find yourself driving into the mens section and would probably now be given such a warm welcome. Who the hell drives into a shul. However, in California it is welcome. Thats right, you can drive into 770 California version. Why you may ask, well because unlike the lower level of New York 770 which houses the mens section of the shul, the lower level of California 770 houses a parking garage and more importantly car pool for the girls school. I was amazed I finally know what’s in the basement of 770. 
As we drove in my friend was telling me how poorly designed the 770 parking garage is. Who cares how it’s designed, I was simply amazed that I felt like I was driving into a mall rather than the Holy of Holies. Do we have to take a ticket? How much does parking cost at the Holy of Holies? Well to my dismay there was no ticket and we didn’t have to pay. But that was kind of cool, we are Jews we love free things. Any way back to the design. Now Jews aren’t really known for making things easy. In fact we can complicate the most simple tasks. Putting on pants make sure you do right before left, going to sleep start on the left and make your way to the right, driving in carpool you must go down before you can go up. Yes that is right you have to drive to the lower level, go around and then go back to the upper level. There is something very Chassidish about this concept. This got me thinking. 
Everything we do has some sort of meaning. We can not just do things idly. Everything has meaning. We do things for a reason, to achieve some sort of spiritual satisfaction. Now, I am sure that when the parking garage was built brachas (prays) were made so that nothing bad would happen during the construction blah blah blah. But, the failure in design, the inconvenient “go down, to go back up” was probably not planned for any specific religious reason. However, it satisfies spirituality in some ways because I am sure somewhere in some Jewish body of knowledge there must be a reference to landing on your ass before you can reach a spiritual high. The point is I now know what the keep in the catacombs of 770, a parking garage.


  1. "I am sure somewhere in some Jewish body of knowledge there must be a reference to landing on your ass before you can reach a spiritual high."
    Chasidus in a nutshell...