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“Ten Carmageddon Commandments” from Rabbi Mark Diamond

by Jonah Lowenfeld

July 15, 2011 | 2:49 pm

This just in, from Board of Rabbis of Southern California EVP Rabbi Mark Diamond:

“And God said (to Elijah):  ‘Go out and stand before (Me), the Eternal, on the mountaintop. Then the Eternal passed by.  A furious wind split mountains and shattered rocks in the presence of the Eternal, but the Eternal was not in the wind.  After the wind, an earthquake—but the Eternal was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake, fire—but the Eternal was not in the fire.  And after the fire, a still, small voice.”
First Kings 19:11-12, Haftarah for this week’s portion, Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1)

The clock is ticking as we anticipate the shattering of the Mulholland Bridge over I-405.  We yearn for a still, small voice to comfort and calm us on Carmageddon weekend.  To that end, here is my personal survival guide of Ten Carmageddon Commandments:

1. Eat a Shabbat meal on Friday evening with friends and family.  If it goes well, repeat the process on Shabbat afternoon.
2. Read a good book.  I prefer the old-fashioned hard or soft-cover variety.  If you must, read your book on a Kindle or iPad.
3. Walk.  My wife and I take a walk every Saturday afternoon, and it’s a highlight of our Shabbat experience.
4. Meet your neighbors.  They may be nice people.  If you already know your neighbors, you’re part of a privileged minority in southern California.
5. Appreciate the outdoors. There is abundant natural beauty in Los Angeles, so get out there and enjoy it.  This is best done on foot or bicycle, NOT in your automobile.
6. Rest. Take a nap.  Robert Fulghum famously noted, ““Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.”  Sans milk and cookies and a blankie, I try to take a nap on Shabbat, and I commend the practice to you.
7. Support retail businesses in your neighborhood.  All this talk of “get the ___ out of town” strikes me as unpatriotic, un-American, and un-civic-minded.
8. Turn off your radio, television, computer, Blackberry, and/or iPhone whenever Carmageddon is mentioned.  This may require turning them off the entire weekend, which is not a bad idea anyway.  In fact, that’s what Shabbat is supposed to be—an island in time free of the noise and clutter of intrusive technology.
9. Laugh.  Everyone outside Los Angeles is laughing at us right now, so we should laugh at ourselves as well.
10. Chill.  It’s only a freeway closure, not a terminal illness, natural disaster, or the end of the world.  Remember the wisdom of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, who taught:

Kol ha’olam kulo gesher tsar me’od
Ve-ha’ikar lo lefached klal.

“The whole world is a very narrow bridge.
The most important thing is not to live in fear.”

I’m beginning to relish the prospects of the Carmageddon experience.  Can we please do it again soon?

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Carmageddon—it’s the end of times. Or the end of the 405 overpass as we know it…

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